Best known for several long-running series (Berserker, Swords, Dracula), Saberhagen is now working inventive changes on Greek myths. The story of Jason and the Argonauts provides the basis for this fourth myth-based novel (after 2000's The Arms of Hercules), in which a naked man staggers out of the sea, shipwrecked and amnesiac. He knows only that his name is Proteus and that he must be part of the Argo's crew as they search for the Golden Fleece. Repairing the character's missing memory is a deft way to introduce readers to the tangle of alliances and betrayals behind the original myth. In fact, however, even readers who think they know the story will be surprised. Things don't always happen according to the myth for one thing, bystanders sometimes weren't observing carefully; for another, it's clear that super-science rather than magic underlies many of the strange events. It's impossible to say whether the book is set in an alternative past before "history" jelled or in the far future, when our history has been forgotten. Fair enough: readers should be wary as they watch gods interfering with mortals while plotting against each other and also trying to avoid hostile, superhuman giants in this bewildering, dangerous world. This isn't one of Saberhagen's best books, but the hints of hidden motives and secret powers are intriguing enough to keep fans alert for the next book in the series.
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The fourth of Saberhagen's Books of the Gods series is about Proteus, the hero who finds and acquires the face of the sea god, Triton, in the course of a battle with giants. But Proteus comes out of that battle and from the sea with no memory of who or what he is. He stumbles into the camp of Jason's Argonauts, on their way to Iolchis and the Golden Fleece. Acceptance into their ranks doesn't bring back much of his memory, but he keeps encountering, usually under dangerous circumstances, people who seem to know who he is. He doesn't regain his assumed identity as Triton until Jason and company are fleeing Iolchan treachery with the Golden Fleece and the lovestruck Medea, and then he gets scant reward for saving his comrades. Or perhaps not so scant, since he consequently finds his way back to home and wife. In any event, this is another ingenious and absorbing reworking of classical material from Saberhagen. Roland Green
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