Title: The Seventh Pleiade
Series: Atlantis #1
Author: Andrew J. Peters
Genre: Gay YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Pages/Word Count: 264 pages
Atlantis is besieged by violent storms, tremors, and a barbarian army. For sixteen-year-old Aerander, it’s a calamitous backdrop to his Panegyris, where boys are feted for their passage to manhood.
Amid a secret web of romances among the celebrants, Aerander’s cousin Dam goes missing with two boys. With the kingdom in crisis, no one suspects the High Priest Zazamoukh, though Aerander uncovers a conspiracy to barter boys for dark spiritual power. Aerander’s proof— an underground vault that disappears in the morning—brings shame on his family and charges of lunacy. The only way for Aerander to regain his honor is to prove what really happened to the missing boys.
Tracking Dam leads Aerander on a terrifying and fantastical journey. He spots a star that hasn’t been seen for centuries. He uncovers a legend about an ancient race of men who hid below the earth. And traveling to an underground world, he learns about matters even more urgent than the missing boys. The world aboveground is changing, and he will have to clear a path for the kingdom’s survival.
A fantastic world, rich with detail and political intrigue–I absolutely loved this novel. The historical aspects were of Ancient Greece, but the world was one of the author’s creation. The details painted a perfect picture, and though Ancient Greek customs and ideals of masculinity can be hard to fathom at times, the author did a fantastic job of making them more relatable to modern interpretation (it was way better than trying to suss out the motivations of the people and the gods in The Iliad). I loved the familiar pieces of ancient culture and mythology, but I also enjoyed the world when it took on more fantastical elements.
The breadth of politics in the story impressed me. Aerander is about to undergo his Panegyris, the ritual where boys become men, and the sacred rites are not only important to him and the other boys, but to the entire society, which needs some normalcy after having been wracked with civil unrest, foreign bandits, and a terrible storm–signs of the gods’ unrest. Aerander is at first unaware of the larger implications of his becoming a man, and what starts off as a few boyhood indiscretions on his part during the festival, soon creates a great political upheaval. Aerander’s love of other boys may have aided the growing rift between the houses, but it becomes very clear that there are other factors at work, and the entire kingdom is in grave danger. For a young man he has incredible agency, but I didn’t find the plotline outlandish, as I do in quite a few other YA works (*cough* The Hunger Games). He uses his wit and physical prowess–in good Greek fashion–but he is not the best at anything in particular, and he loses nearly as much as he wins.
This was a fantastic tale, and while I’m not normally a fan of YA, I gave it five stars. The writing is fantastic, and the plot and characters didn’t strike me as silly or superficial. Kirkus even reviewed it. Peters seems to write mostly Greek mythology-based works, and I can’t help but feel as if I’ve hit the jackpot. Rest assured, I’ll be reading more.
Visit him at: http://andrewjpeterswrites.com/
Review originally posted to Queer Sci Fi: