I’m delighted to be taking part in the For the Immortal blog tour today – I loved the first two instalments of Emily Hauser’s Golden Apple trilogy which started with For the Most Beautiful and continued with For the Winner, and whilst I’m sorry that the publication of this novel brings the series to a close (I could read about the exploits of the Greeks and their meddling Gods indefinitely) I was also thrilled to receive an early copy, and I can’t wait to see what Emily goes on to do next.
Thousands of years ago, in an ancient world where the gods control all and heroes fight to have their names remembered down the ages, two extraordinary women become entangled in one of the greatest heroic tales of all time… and must face how much they are willing to risk for immortality.
Desperate to save her dying brother, Admete persuades her father, the king of Tiryns, to let her join Hercules on one of his legendary twelve labours. Travelling to the renowned female warrior Amazons in search of a cure, Admete soon discovers that both Hercules and the fearsome Amazons are not as they first seemed.
The Amazons greet the arrival of the Greeks with mixed feelings – and none more so than Hippolyta, the revered queen of the tribe. For Hercules and his band of fighters pose a threat to her way of life – but also stir up painful memories that threaten to expose her deepest secret.
As battle lines are drawn between the Greeks and the Amazons, both women soon learn the inevitable truth – in war, sacrifices must be made; especially if they are to protect the ones they love most…
One thing that I have loved about this series is that it’s easily accessible with little or no prior knowledge of Greek mythology and their heroes and Gods. For the Immortal features Hercules on one of his twelve labours, but whether you’re familiar with this particular tale or not, it doesn’t matter because, as with the first two instalments, the focus of the novel is on the women that feature in this tale, namely Admete and Hippolyta in this instance. I think that it’s very easy to read up on the men of this time, and I’ve loved the focus on the women throughout the series to give a different perspective on these stories. It’s also worth noting that each novel comes with a handy glossary of people and places, so it’s easy to find out who’s who and how they’re connected if needed.
Whilst this is the third novel in the series, these novels can all be comfortably read as standalones, as they all feature different characters, and the stories are all quite different. They aren’t entirely disparate, however, and they are connected by the overarching themes of the Golden Apples of the Hesperides and the concept of fate versus choosing one’s own destiny, and I think that they work equally well when read sequentially or individually.
For the Immortal focuses on the characters of Admete and Hippolyta – two women who I found to be quite different characters. Hippolyta is an Amazonian Queen, and as such she is proud, confident, and above all fierce. I fell in love with her straightaway, of course. It seemed to me that the Amazons – of which I know little beyond them being female warriors – are one of the few societies to have mastered equality between the sexes, with women being revered and trained from an early age to battle and ride horses (with none of this side saddle nonsense), considered to be equal to their male counterparts. Hippolyta gets quite a rough treatment throughout this tale, and there were moments at which I was distraught to see this proud lady brought so low – at the hands of the Greeks, of course, and one in particular, who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this review. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Greek heroes were largely arrogant *****, which doesn’t actually surprise me in the slightest.
Admete is a rather different character. Of mixed Greek and Amazonian heritage, she has grown up in the Greek court, and has learnt that the Greeks, for the most part, don’t want to be reminded of her mixed parentage. She has grown up to be extremely well versed in healing – particularly in herbal cures and remedies, and it is this (along with a desire to find her absent mother) that drives the story when she tries, but fails, to heal her feverish brother. She seems like a quiet individual, but there is an inner strength in her which drives her to stand up for what she believes in, whatever the cost, and whilst she may not be the dominant force that Hippolyta is, she is strong in her own, quieter, way.
I haven’t gone into the plot at all, but it is driven by Admete’s need to find a cure, and the need to search further afield than her own herb garden. It coincides with Hercules – a long-time friend of Admete and her family – performing his labours in order to be recognised by the gods, Hera in particular, as the son of Zeus and to achieve immortality. Thus, Admete’s quest is extended to incorporate a labour for Hercules, so that he can achieve his own ambitions whilst accompanying Admete. I don’t really want to say much more than that, but it’s a great story, and I loved that it ends at the siege of Troy, in which the first novel, For the Most Beautiful, is set (chronologically, For the Immortal, comes first).
This is a brilliant end to what has been a fantastic trilogy, and I can’t wait to see what Emily Hauser goes on to do next. For someone who enjoys books inspired by old mythologies, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, and in particular the different slant that Hauser has put on these tales.
For the Immortal was published on 14 June by Doubleday. Many thanks to Hannah Bright and the publisher for the review copy, and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour: