Title: Prince of Death (Lords of the Underworld #1)
Author: Sam Burns / W.M. Fawkes
Release Date: March 7, 2019
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 306
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 4 flame out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Gifted power over life and death, Lysandros has spent millennia in the underworld, listless and alone. The youngest child of Hades and Persephone, he’s been sheltered from the threats in the world above.
Theo Ward hasn’t been so lucky. After watching his mother wither away, he’d do almost anything to have her back. When a messenger appears at the Banneker College of Magic and offers the young professor a chance to save her, Theo can’t pass it up, even if it means going straight into the underworld and dragging her home. But Theo gets more than he bargained for when he crosses paths with the prince of Hades.
Set against the king of Olympus, they must shed their past burdens and learn to trust in each other, so they can face down a storm that threatens to wipe the nation’s capital off the map.
Who wouldn’t dream of hooking up with a genuine god, especially if that god turns out to be an exceedingly handsome hunk? Not that Theo Ward, somewhat non-descript theory professor at the Banneker College of Magic in Washington DC, would have dared dream of anything of the sort. He’s much too down-to-earth for that. Plus, his mother has recently died, so hooking up is currently not on his to-do list at all. But one day someone delivers a hitherto unheard-of book written by the founder of the college, Mr. Banneker, who’s been dead for ages. Then a smug stranger invites him to take an underground train of a hitherto unheard-of line, and lo and behold, he finds himself in… the underworld! Yes, the same underworld he’s read so much about, the one everyone knows from the ancient Greeks’ mythology, Charon, Thanatos, and Elysium included. And he finds himself facing first the three-headed hound Cerberus, and then… a broody goth, but a very hunky broody goth.
That’s how this story begins. Turns out the ancient Greek gods are now dwelling in DC. And the hunky goth is Lysandros, son of Hades and Persophene. As the plot unravels from little godly intrigue to little godly intrigue (the creators of “Dallas”, “Dynasty”, and similar TV soaps didn’t come up with anything new—the ancient Greeks invented all that stuff eons ago), Lysandros becomes less and less broody and ever more smitten with the young, slightly awkward mortal. And of course, for said mortal, Lysandros is not only a walking wet dream come true, but also the trustworthy companion and soul mate he’s secretly been looking for all his life.
I won’t give you further details about the storyline so as not to spoil your reading pleasure, but trust me: it’s much more than a mere guy-meets-god/guy-falls-in-love-with-god/HEA-ensues plot. It’s not a tepid “new ‘n’ gay” take on the “Percy Jackson” series either, even if they have the Greek-gods theme in common (and I have to admit I very much enjoyed reading “Percy Jackson”—guilty as charged). For those who love Fantasy novels, this book has got anything you could ask for. There’s suspense, there are intrigues and thrills, there’s magic you can sense and smell. Everything feels natural and utterly believable. Yes, it does, even if deals with loads of gods and magic and stuff. “Why would the Greek gods end up in Washington DC of all places?” was a question I did ask myself, of course; but that’s a question I ask myself each time US writers transfer foreign gods or myths to the US—must be a kind of “European rash”-reaction that doesn’t last long. Especially not if the rest of the plot falls so nicely into place as it did in this novel.
For those who like a nice romance, you’ll get your fill too. Lysandros is nicely broody and moody and dark in the beginning (and unaware of his stunning beauty), whereas Theo is that clever dude with that whole guy-next-door thing going, whose life seems deservedly duller than dull to him until he stumbles upon his god. The story of the two of them meeting, getting to know each other and slowly falling in love with each other is just outright charming—you know, with those “Ow! How cute!” moments when you melt a bit while reading a particularly touching paragraph. In the ancient Greeks’ tradition, we don’t get any dichotomical characters with “good guys” here and “bad guys” there. Back then people did know how to make their gods perfectly human, each with some Yin and some Yang—take Hermes, for instance: god of travellers and… god of thieves, amongst other things. The two authors of this books have remained true to that tradition, which makes for characters (mainly gods) who are never merely hateful nor merely loveable. The dialogues are savoury, and there are steamy scenes galore. Imagine getting it off with a god! Makes one want to burn an incense stick or two, just in case one of Them can thus be summoned…
All in all, I was pulled into the nicely paced and very well written book right from the start and then pulled along until the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am glad there’ll be follow-ups (at least one is already announced, and I dare hope there’ll be more after that).