Blog Book Tour | “The Sky Throne” by Chris Ledbetter A new approach to the back-story of #Zeus with a #GuestPost by the author explaining the ‘Sky Throne’.

Posted Monday, 16 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been aware of the publisher Month9Books for quite a few years now, as I used to host their Reveals & other special tours – even interviewing a lovely batch of their authors as books released I felt I would appreciate reading. However, in truth – I have only read two releases by them (as of yet) and this one marked an interest as it is a gateway into Greek Mythology. I received a complimentary copy of “The Sky Throne” direct from the author Chris Ledbetter in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Ahead of my review, I asked a topic of interest for Mr Ledbetter:

How did you conceive of the ‘the Sky Throne’ and how did you best want to endeavour to describe the power of the Gods previously only generally known through Myth and Legends? How did you want your story to stand separate and together from the legacy of what has already been written?

Since I primarily write for the young adult audience, I ultimately wanted to tell an “origin” story that re-imagined the deities of ancient Hellas as teenagers. From that genesis point, I had to decide which myth to begin with. One of the most well known myths is that of Kronos eating his children to prevent a prophecy from coming true. This is a huge cornerstone of the Hellenic gods’ creation myth as told in Hesiod’s Theogony.

From there, I had to choose which deity I’d focus on as the main character. Even though the number of myths containing each deity varies widely, from a source material perspective, I love each of the Olympians. But I’ve always been drawn to Zeus strictly from the lightning and thunder aspect of things. And because he’s the king of the Gods. I realize the myths paint him as a bit of a sordid character… and I’m not excusing his colorful behavior in the myths, but I sought to create a more sympathetic version, while still remaining generally true to his essence. He is indeed one of the most dynamic figures in myths.

After I’d conceived the story concept, I tried to describe their otherworldly powers and abilities as if they were super heroes and heroines. In many ways, the Gods of pantheons past were our first super heroes and villains.

In the marketplace, there was a plethora of young adult titles in which the main character was a half blood, demigod child of an ancient god. I wanted to go to the source and tell the story of the deities themselves. That’s what separates The Sky Throne from its peers.

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Notation on Cover Art: I personally love the image of Zeus which is not only gracing the cover but it is inclusive to every ‘chapter’ page within the novel! There is simply something quite striking about this representation of Zeus and it stays with you as you read the story!

Blog Book Tour | “The Sky Throne” by Chris Ledbetter A new approach to the back-story of #Zeus with a #GuestPost by the author explaining the ‘Sky Throne’.The Sky Throne
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

Duality dwells at every turn, and an adolescent Zeus will learn that all too well when Hyperion attacks his family on Crete.

When the dust settles, his mother is unconscious and his best friend left for dead.

Stacking epic insult upon fatal injury, Zeus discovers the woman who raised him is not his biological mother. But to ensure her safety while she recovers, a heavy-hearted Zeus leaves her behind to seek answers at Mount Olympus Preparatory Academia.

Zeus embarks on a quest to discover who ordered the attack on his home, avenge the death of his friend, and find his birth mother. When some of his new schoolmates vanish, Zeus's quest is turned upside down, and the only way to make things right is to access the power of The Sky Throne, confront a most dangerous enemy, and take his life back.

On his way to becoming king of the Greek gods, Zeus will learn to seize power, neutralize his enemies, and fall in love.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781945107870

on 18th April, 2017

Pages: 311

Published by: Month9Books (@Month9Books)

Converse via: #Zeus, #GreekMythos + #CleanReads + #YALit

About Chris Ledbetter

Chris Ledbetter

Chris Ledbetter is an award-winning author of short fiction and novels for young adults. “Jason’s Quest,” a short story retelling of the Jason and Medea Greek myth was published in the anthology, Greek Myths Revisited. His first full-length novel, Drawn earned him two awards, Library of Clean Reads Best YA 2015 and Evernight Publishing Readers’ Choice Award Best YA 2015, as well as a USA​ ​
TODAY “Must Read” recommendation. His second novel, Inked, concludes that duology. The Sky Throne is his newest young adult novel. The second book in the series is set to release in 2018.

He's a proud member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and a strong supporter of the Need for Diverse Books. He now writes and lives in Wilmington, NC with his family, including three cats.

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why i felt tempted to read this story:

I’ll admit, understanding Greek Myth as a child was a bit of a moot point considering I never could find an entrance into the mythologies which either didn’t bore me endlessly or confuse me to the point of exasperation. In part, this is why I wanted to read “The Sky Throne” if only to find a way to make the legacies of the Greeks palatable and approachable – I felt Ledbetter might have be the one author I could trust to get me a foothold into a part of literature I shy away from the most.

Except to say, when I first started reading the novel, I felt like I was back in 7th Grade – barely treading water in a text which did not have a lot of traction in my mind to follow. Until of course, the novel turnt a bit – focusing in on Zeus’s inner circle, from the friendship he shared with Anytos. It was through their antics at school and the innocent love Zeus had for an Oceanid which started to prove I might make progress with this story rather than feel cluttered again by the Mythos I never understood.

To me, the Greeks were muddling and clouding a bit in what they wanted to disclose to us – their stories felt weighed down and heavy in a way which was not enlightening but frustrating. Ledbetter, blessedly is finding a way to make enroads into understanding the Greeks on a level of interest for all of us who never understood the Greeks in the first place or those who want to go ‘further’ than what the legacies will yield.

My Review of the sky throne:

What was incredibly disheartening is how quickly innocence can be extracted from a young soul – Zeus watched his best friend die in front of him but not before he questioned the sudden appearance of Hyperion! I would have questioned it myself – but it’s how righteously Hyperion acted in front of Zeus which gave you immediate pause – there were things happening outside our understanding (at this junction) which put a new spin on why Zeus was living on a goat farm. One irony of course, is how Zeus was firmly against the goats – finding little use for them and not appreciating their company. (knowing then, this was a forebearance to future events but happily surprised in the ‘how’ and ‘why’) I laughed a bit at this as recently I had learnt about how joyful it is to keep goats and how goats in of themselves are happy companions to have round you. You could readily gather Zeus feels out of sync with his classmates – his concerns are on energy and the topics therein; you can relate to him if you ever stared at the clock in school willing yourself to suddenly turn telekinetic to increase the minutes forward to where the bell would ring without having to suffer through one more deadpan lesson which would make you feel more lethargic than energised.

I laughed when Tia (an unconventional student at Mt Olympus Prep) tried to explain the ‘strengths’ of the athletes she was introducing Zeus too – Poseidon and Hades! Especially clever is how Ledbetter updated the dialogue for 21st Century teens whilst hinting towards the lyrics from a Taylor Swift song. This is where Zeus found himself deposited when he was not allowed to remain with his mother – although, if I had been told everything he was before shipped off to an island I barely knew, I am unsure if I would have handled the transition half as well. You can gather, he is without the fuller knowledge of ‘who’ he is and his experiences are shaping him to understand his fuller destiny. The irony of course, is how powerful Zeus really is whilst finding him at a cross-roads as a teenager without the benefit of seeing his future.

When I saw ‘shapeshifting’ was on the docket for Zeus’s studies, I was immediately excited! I love shapeshifting narratives and I was most anxious to reach this chapter! It arrived at a point in the story where I was nearly fearing I’d exit this unfinished, too. This is where I felt Ledbetter excelled at showing a humbling part of Zeus’s journey towards self-acceptance. It was another firm entry in how Zeus was unable to conceptionalise his own standing as a ‘God’ and only saw himself as an ‘ordinary’ boy. As he started to shapeshift, he was struck odd by how innate the motion of ‘shifting’ came to him but how uncomfortable the shift itself felt overall. It was also interesting to notice how his classmates reacted to his natural abilities – almost as if they too, were not privy to his destiny and were each learning as they went about futures yet told.

I had to smile. Ledbetter reinvented ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – Hera’s unexpected kindness to teach Zeus a few things about himself was a lovely addition. It also was interesting to see how each of the Gods & Goddesses at the Academy never knew their parents but they also, did not always have a deep respect for their guardians as Zeus had for his ‘mother’ who wasn’t his mother; something he hadn’t always known but still missed her fiercely.

I also liked the ‘Science’ within the foundation of this world – how the Hurlers were explained and how there is a balance between Alpha and Omega (one thing I loved mastering was the Greek Alphabet but the letters were only the tipping stone to what they foretold). There is a lot of well-researched elements threading through this novel – those are what I hung onto the most because I liked how Ledbetter assembled the world-building behind the angst of seeing the dialogue choices and some other bits I disliked. Even the small clues towards who the Professors were and why their studies of interest were running parallel to being ‘elementally important and imperative’. There was even a farthing of interest in Cosmology and AstroPhysics – something hinted originally when ‘the sky throne’ was initially placed as a marker of interest to Zeus. The ‘Hurlers’ though is this world’s form of ‘teleportation’ which in of itself was of curiosity to me. I like finding how authors of Science Fiction treat transportation issues in their worlds or re-invent how dematerialising their characters can effectively seem ‘new’ to a reader of Sci-Fi.

There is one girl in particular who was used as a pawn in a cruel twist of fate towards trying to secure Zeus on a path not of his choosing which I felt went a bit too far in some regards. Not that the situation isn’t realistic it’s because of how real it is stated that makes you shudder to think about her plight. Even her disregard for her own safety and security to help overtake Zeus was difficult to read because she was trapped in a situation she could not control nor effectively alter. To me, her character was dealt the cruelest of fates but also, a hardening one to where even during her moment of vulnerable disclosure – you could feel the heaviness of her guilt.

I had a feeling I knew what the Sky Throne could be used for and watching Zeus interacting with it confirmed my suspicions. Seeing him in that moment was interesting because it was a shadow of how a boy could become a man and how a God could become transformed out of ordinary existence. It was only a glimmer of who Zeus is or was rather, but in that moment, I could sense why Mythology has held the attention of curious readers for as long as it has… for that scene was incredibly layered and yet, it ended quite abruptly as you would think it should for where Zeus is right now on his path.

The last few chapters held the most joy for me to read – mostly as I do not know the lineage of the Gods & Goddesses so for me, a lot of what was revealled was ‘new’ and ‘rewarding’. Also, I liked how Ledbetter kept a lot of secrets until the end – secrets which would alter how all the teens would view each other but also themselves – there are a lot of overtures of self-identity and self-esteem issues which stem from not having a firm understanding of ‘who’ they are until they fully understand their ‘past’. Also, finding out more about the structures of how the Deities are allowed to interact with each other and the rules of the universe therein was fascinating folly, personally. I liked how Ledbetter used Science to thread the undertone of the novel and wished in some regards there was more strength in this vein of thought than only causally bringing it into the foreground. Ironically or not, I loved how Kronos learnt one powerful message: there is never enough ‘time’ which is why it’s best to use it wisely rather than to scuttle your moments for ill.

Fly in the Ointment: Content Note

One thing which took me out of the flow of the story-line is how everyone was assigned a nickname – which in theory would be ideal, since we’re dealing with well-known Gods & Goddesses, but somehow I felt their nicknames were muddling the joy of reading the story. Especially as some of the nicknames were either too common or seemed irrelevant to the characters’ personalities. I think I would have much preferred they simply went by their ‘real names’ rather than shorten them into common names which did not hold as much weight. I also noticed early-on a lot of the words, phrases and just general ‘pace’ of the story was typical of a lot of the YA on the market today; the kind I tend to avoid, because it bores me to read.

I was thinking about this as I read “The Sky Throne” – try as I might to read a well-rounded collection of YA stories, there are some which reside a bit outside of what I enjoy reading. It’s hard to even explain the differences – I just notice the differences as I’m reading the stories. For this novel, I also contemplated if this would have suited me as a teen and realised, it wouldn’t have held my attention even then because some of the slang and humour wasn’t similar to how I spoke myself. Nor that of my friends. This isn’t an issue limited to YA either, as I have grievances against New Adult & most Contemporaries as well.

In that regard, sometimes I think reading YA is a tricky balance of finding the stories which I enjoy to read which are grounded in the modern world (as far as relatablity) but with aren’t pulling me in and out of their narrative by passages which make my brow wrinkle wondering why this word or phrase was chosen over another or why some of it read to be a bit too predictable.

There are two layers of content in “The Sky Throne” – there is the serious layer built on the mythology of the Greeks which held my interest whole-heartedly and then there is the layer which seemed to takeaway from the first layer – where everything felt a bit more simplistic round the edges, to where cliches and predictability ran too rampant. The greatest strength I felt, is when Ledbetter was captialising on the mythology aspects and not dumbing down the journey Zeus was taking by trying to capture something that did not need to be included. In this vein, despite the fact I understand being bullied all too well – there was something out of step in this regard in the narrative. I personally do not like the word ‘whore’ went ascribed to girls – even though I know this can be used in a negative cognition in certain circles, why it had to be given as a choice of dialogue between Atlas and his girlfriend, I know not. This is the kind of example I meant by how where I felt Ledbetter lost credit where how he chose to tell the story itself.

I wish in some ways, he had staid truer to the first layer – where the context of the story was alleviated and the momentum of the Gods and Goddesses was strengthened through his re-telling of the Mythology aspects without bringing this down to the gutter so to speak. I honestly don’t know how these teens went unchecked by faculty or parents for so long – who is raising them to speak like this and to act like this? It is almost as if YA Lit today is influencing teens to believe they can raise themselves and get away with everything they choose because there isn’t a ‘check and balance’ on their impulses and choice of language. Nor any consequence for their actions – right or wrong – nor any manner of conscience reproach. I think I’ve just found myself unwilling to accept these kinds of stories for young adults.

One note of praise for Mr Ledbetter:

This is truly a ‘Clean Read’ for young adults, for which I give him credit for maintaining – even when he could have ‘gone the other route’ so many YA authors chose to do in today’s market. Especially of credit is how he kept the ‘choices’ of expression inclusive to his world-building – he grounded the cleverly spun harder emotions out of elements from the perimeters of this ‘world’ thereby encasing us in the Gods & Goddesses ‘world-view’ whilst expanding on their personal experiences of what they understood and observed. In this, I was highly thankful to see an author up the ante on how YA Lit can be ‘clean’ without the overt use of vulgarity which I find distasteful in YA Lit (per previous ‘Fly in the Ointment’s or the section at the end of my Children’s Lit page.

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Reader Interactive Question:

I look forward to hearing your reactions if you’ve read this novel too

and/or if your curiosity had become piqued to read it after reading my own ruminations!

Definitely suggest other Greek Mythos re-tellings or origin stories which may lay an interest to be read ‘next in line’ after this gateway novel. After realising I still am uninterested in the ‘source materials’ as honestly reading his GP response – I noticed I preferred his ‘changes’ to the origins behind the ‘children’ of Kronos – honestly, this is what I was hinting about as one of my favourite takeaways in the ‘ending chapters’ – it was so cleverly writ and I wasn’t even sure if it was factual but the concept behind the parentage and lineage was bang on brilliant! I do find I appreciate re-tellings and after canon Lit especially in regards to Fairy Tales – so perhaps this is cluing me into how I can appreciate the Greeks – only a handful of decades after I first ‘met’ them!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Sky Throne”, book synopsis, author photograph of Chris Ledbetter, author biography, and the tour badge were all provided by iRead Book Tours and used with permission. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 16 October, 2017 by jorielov in After the Canon, Alternative History, Ancient Civilisation, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Brothers and Sisters, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Gods & Goddesses, Good vs. Evil, Greece, Greek Mythology, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Heroic Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired by Stories, iRead Book Tours, Literature for Boys, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Mythological Societies, Parapsychological Gifts, Quantum | Mechanics Physics Theory, Re-Told Tales, School Life & Situations, Science, Science Fiction, Shapeshifters, Siblings, Speculative Fiction, Superhero Adventure, Superhero Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Teacher & Student Relationships, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Upper YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

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