Go to Homepage   Fred Saberhagen: God of the Golden Fleece (Book of the Gods, Volume 4)

 

Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three moon gifTor Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-87037-X
Beneath its golden lining, God of the Golden Fleece, the fourth volume in the Book of the Gods series, reads much the same as the tried and true tale of Jason and the Argonauts, and their quest for the infamous ram pelt. However, Fred Saberhagen reworks this ancient story by telling it from the point of view of an Argonaut named Proteus -- an unusual man of forgotten origins.

Book: Fred Saberhagen, God of the Golden FleeceHis memory shattered, Proteus remembers only his mission to accompany Jason and the Argonauts on their latest voyage. Upon reaching his destination and joining up with the crew, Proteus still can't make sense of the fragments of recollection. He experiences a vision of a woman. But who is this woman -- friend or foe? And what role does she -- or Proteus, for that matter -- play in the fate of Jason and the Argonauts? With an acute eye, Proteus searches for signs as to who he is and where he came from. How did Proteus, a mortal, manage to defeat the monstrous giant that robbed him of his past? What of his premonitions? And how does Proteus manage to control the sea?

The fact that assassins sent to murder Jason recognize Proteus as one of their own, proves an even more puzzling question. Could Proteus possibly be one of King Pelia's henchmen, sent to undermine Jason's success by murdering him? Bound by honor to his new master, Proteus protects and defends Jason like no other Argonaut. As he serves Jason on his perilous journey, Proteus begins to see glimpses of his past in the dark folds of the crashing waves.

From the moment the reader steps on board the Argo with Proteus, mystery bids the reader to sail on, regardless of apparent inconsistencies. Whether Proteus did in fact sail with the Argonauts became the first point of confusion for me. Resolving that point entailed putting down the book and doing an Internet search on the crew of the Argo. Unable to find Proteus listed as a passenger -- he appears only as a minor sea god or as the keeper of Poseidon's seals -- I returned to my reading a bit unsettled.

Book: Fred Saberhagen, The Arm of HerculesLife on the Argo doesn't always qualify as the ultimate in reading excitement. But pit stops at familiar mythological locales (Iolcus, Lemnos and Colchis, to name a few) and interaction with fascinating characters like King Aeetes, Apsyrtus, Circe, Medea and King Pelias -- not to mention giant sea monsters -- lend excitement to this legendary journey.

While I enjoyed Fred Saberhagen's skillful retelling of this story, it did cause me to yearn for a recounting of the story without his imagined "twists." As a result of the variations from the popular version, I often became preoccupied in trying to figure "how the 'real' story goes." However, when all is said and done, a meeting with Saberhagen's God of the Golden Fleece proves worth the journey and is sure to awaken an interest or re-ignite a passion for reading myths.

Lynne Remick

An avid reader, Lynne Remick will rarely be found without a book in her hand. When not reading, traveling to or writing about historically passionate places in Europe, Lynne lives in Nesconset, N.Y. with her fiance, Michael, her adorable son Kevin, her darling Schipperke Dante, a feral cat named Sahara and a spoiled baby hedgehog named Apollo Nike.

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