Reading the sequel to a book that you enjoyed can go one of two ways: either you hate it, or you’re stepping back into a world that you loved and everything feels more, better, the adventure a perfect extension of book one. Shadow Pantheon by Eric Nierstedt was like that.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This book would have a hard time being as world-changing and dramatic as book one, but somehow, it managed that quite well. This time, our pantheon of gods stuck in the modern world have a better handle on how to deal with the world around them. That doesn’t make the challenge they’re facing any easier, though, because what they’re facing is their past. And if there’s one thing that people have a difficult time with, it’s the past. I can’t really tell you anything more specific than that because of spoilers for book one and book two, but I shall tell you this:
The plot was, as expected, well thought out. The pieces were a mystery at first, but they seemed to flow together very well so that by the end, you knew exactly what was going on and desperately needed our characters to fix it. And the way that was done…well, it was a great application of mythology, fantasy, and highly capable storytelling. (And this mythology was done right.)
2. Thoughts on the main character
As with book one, there are several main characters in this book. They are our pantheon of gods from various different cultures, living in New York and doing their best to get along with mortals. I really liked seeing these characters again. They are precisely as you would expect, coming from the first book, but there is enough further development in consideration to the new situation and the resurgence of the past that you don’t get bored with them. You get to grow along with them (although I’m not sure Coyote really grows, but more moves sideways to expectations). I enjoyed reading them just as much as before. Balder is still one of my favourites, but this time Anubis probably takes the top slot for me.
3. Favourite part
I enjoyed the particular plot with Anubis and Carlos, the boy holding a part of Anubis’ past. I think there was really great depiction of the characters from mythologies, without watering it down like you would see in some television or movies. The essence was captured perfectly, but the human side of Anubis as Mustafa was just as intriguing as the mythology. Definitely a great piece of the story. (Though, the plot twist at the end was really great, too.)
I think the only issue I had with this book was to do with some of the unanswered questions at the end. Of course, this is more to do with my curiosity than anything, so there isn’t really a problem with the ending. Actually, the ending is quite good. I just…I want to know more. How they continue, what comes next, all the usual things that happen when a book I really like is finished. Sigh.
Overall, I’d say that Shadow Pantheon is a fantastic sequel to the first book. The characters are still wonderful to read, the situation is new and interesting while retaining what they learned before, the plot twists are fun, and it was a great modern exploration of various mythological and religious systems. Essentially, a VERY GOOD book.