If you haven’t read the first books of the Pantheon Saga by Eric Nierstedt, then I absolutely do recommend them, since they are a fascinating mix of urban fantasy, stories of gods who exist as legends only, and a journey to save the world (multiple times). So when Spider Stories came out, I was thrilled to get to read it.
1. Thoughts on the plot(s)
This book is a collection of short stories, offering origin stories on the various main characters of the Pantheon Saga. It follows Balder, Anubis, Coyote, Kali-Ma, Athena and Loki, sharing stories of the gods before people knew they were gods, or stories never heard before that define who they were. All of the stories take place before the Pantheon Saga stories, excepting the last, which is a Christmas story that takes place between books one and two. The stories are narrated by Anansi, the African spider god and storyteller, who catches all interesting tales in his web.
I enjoyed the chance to explore the identity of the gods before they appear in the Pantheon Saga. Each tale gave a defining moment that highlighted one of the most important traits or events for each god, be it through their making, them claiming their role or a shift in perception. While I enjoy the adventures in the books quite a bit—I’m a sucker for urban fantasy stories that catch the imagination—it was nice to see them on their own turf, as it may be.
2. Thoughts on the characters
I am already familiar with all of these characters from other books, and so already know what traits they claim and how they interact with the world. However, these stories take place long before the other books and so show the moment where these traits become defined. This lends an extra air of depth and gives a chance to understand better where these characters are coming from. It was also nice to see them before I knew them in the books, to see how far they’ve come and grown.
3. Favourite part
I think the narrative pieces given in Anansi’s voice were probably my favourite part. They managed to tie the stories together and also provide a bit of context for each situation. That, and Anansi seems to have mastered the art of sincere snark, which I appreciate quite a bit.
I don’t really have a critique for this book except that it needed one more proofread. There weren’t an overwhelming number of errors, but just enough that I noticed them. Otherwise, the prose was great and very easy to read, the characters were entertaining and the stories themselves fun to read.
Overall, I’d say this is a charming collection of short stories, and one that adds an extra element to a series that I enjoy thoroughly.