Pegasus: The Flame of Olympus by Kate O’Hearn is a juvenile fantasy series and The Flame of Olympus is book number one. The story begins in Olympus where there is a war going on; Olympus is in ruins and many Olympians were fighting the invading Nirads, a four-armed foul-smelling black/grey creature that are surprisingly difficult for the Oympians to defeat. Apollo, Diana, Mercury, Aries, Juno, Hercules, Pegasus and Jupiter are all attempting to fend off hordes of Nirads. Paelen, a thief, is also there, but lacks confidence in himself and loyalty to himself, his countrymen and homeland; he decides not to join the others in battle, but instead will steal Pegasus. Pegasus is tied up at Jupiter’s palace; eventually a mob of Nirads are able to reach the large white stallion and, despite Pegasus’ best efforts, he is overtaken and badly wounded. Paelen is sneaking over to Pegasus to steal the stallion and his golden bridle. Just as Paelen got his hands on the bridle and got the bridle released from the post, a huge strike of lightning hits them both causing them to disappear.
In modern day New York lives a young girl named Emily who lives on the top floor of a Manhattan sky rise building with her police officer father, Steve. Emily’s mother passed away not too long ago due to cancer – Em is still grieving and attempting to cope with it. She is home by herself during a very gnarly thunderstorm – blinding rain, lots of thunder and lightning. Emily is on the phone with her father when the biggest lightning strike she’s ever seen hits the top of the Empire State building causing some damage and most of the city’s power to go out including Emily’s apartment building. Simultaneous with the lightning strike and thunder clap, Emily hears a loud, heavy thud on the roof – where her mother kept a small garden of flowers, fruits and vegetables. Neither Emily nor Steve have gone up there since Em’s mom died, so she assumes that the shed up there toppled over, but when intermittent thuds continue, her curiosity gets the better of her, conquers her fear and leads Emily to grab a flashlight and head to the roof.
On the roof she can see a very large shadow there, but isn’t certain what it is that she’s seeing and doesn’t fully believe anything could possibly be there. However, when a bright flash of lightning hits the night sky she’s not able to deny that Pegasus landed on or fell to her rooftop. When she slowly moves closer she can see that Pegasus is badly wounded and in need of some care. She’s able to care for his burn (from the lightning strike), and some of his gashes from when the Nirads attacked him on Olympus. She realizes she’s going to need help to fix Pegasus’ broken wing and remove the large spear from his flank. Now Emily plans to ask one of the grumpiest classmates she knows for help since she believes that he’s the only one in the class who won’t think she’s crazy and would take helping and caring for Pegasus seriously.
With some help from Pegasus Emily is able to move him into the shed to hide him from public view while she went to find and convince Joel (her classmate) to follow her home and help her. She sets out on foot to talk to Joel; after finding Joel sitting on the steps of a Brownstone, Emily explains what happened with the Iknowthissoundscrazy disclaimer and shows him photos she took of Pegasus with her cell phone. A few minutes of coaxing later and Joel is following Emily up the stairs to her 20th floor apartment and then the roof. Together, they do the best they can to set Pegasus’ wing, they remove the spear and super glued the wound closed, then they put ointment on and bandaged the remaining cuts.
Joel is Italian with a voracious interest in Roman mythology so he’s pretty knowledgeable about Olympus and Olympians; he shows this when he informs Em that on Olympus they eat (or drink) ambrosia which is very sweet. In order to help Pegasus heal faster and regain his strength, Em and Joel brought him as many sweet foods as they could find in and carry from the kitchen. This helped Pegasus heal some, but he still needed a bit more time for his wing and other cuts to fully heal. Unfortunately, they don’t get that opportunity because now they are being pursued by the Nirads. Pegasus with Joel’s shirt in his mouth and Emily on his back, takes flight off the roof to save them and although they were successful, Em is badly injured on one of her legs by a Nirad when she tried to kick it off of the stallion’s legs and side.
Paelen was also on earth in Manhattan and was also badly burned and injured. He was admitted to a local hospital after being found by bystanders, there he was treated and due to his bizarre answers to questions by police and his quick recovery in the hospital, he is whisked away by the pseudo-secret government agency called the CRU. When he woke up, he ascertained that he was being held in a facility underground; two agents – Agent J and Agent O – question and torture Paelen to try to get him to tell them information they can believe, explain or use. It’s not a pleasant time. After escaping the Nirads Emily, Pegasus and Joel head over to Central Park to attempt to hide from the police and the CRU. Emily’s dad is in touch with her over the phone and helps her and Joel to find an adequate hiding place in the park. In order to camouflage Pegasus better, Joel and Emily decide to dye the stallion’s mane and fur. It isn’t the best dye job, but it gets the job done. Eventually Diana shows up on earth to help Pegasus with his mission to find the Daughter of Vesta.
The story is narrated by Emily and told from her point of view; it tells of Joel and Emily’s adventure in their quest to help the Olympians in their united mission and goal. I have a few favorite characters in this story – I like Emily because she is brave and responsible. I like Joel because he’s not as mean and menacing as many thought him to be, but has simply had a difficult life; I like Pegasus because who wouldn’t love a flying bright white stallion? I also like Diana because she is fearless and fierce – she is not the type of person (or Olympian) you would want to mess with; and I also like Paelen because even though he started out the novel with malintent, he changed in the end becoming a good Olympian and courageously faces the Nirads while Emily and Joel do their part to help save Olympus. The characters that I disliked were Agents J and O with the CRU – I’m not a huge fan of secret government groups because they simply shouldn’t exist. The story is creative and fun – not lacking in adventure or action, there are funny moments and some suspenseful moments too. The story is engaging and a fairly enjoyable fantasy novel. I would recommend it to any reader who really enjoys the fantasy genre of books, Roman (or maybe even Greek) mythology, and action. I purchased this copy for my daughter from Barnes and Noble; currently Barnes and Noble is selling reprints of the paperback copy for $8.99 or you can purchase a hardcover for $19.99.
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