Book Eighty-Three of 2014: Night of Pan by Gail Strickland

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The slaughter of the Spartan Three Hundred at Thermopylae, Greece 480 BCE—when King Leonidas tried to stop the Persian army with only his elite guard—is well known. But just what did King Xerxes do after he defeated the Greeks?
Fifteen-year-old Thaleia is haunted by visions: roofs dripping blood, Athens burning. She tries to convince her best friend and all the villagers that she’s not crazy. The gods do speak to her.
And the gods have plans for this girl.
When Xerxes’ army of a million Persians marches straight to the mountain village Delphi to claim the Temple of Apollo’s treasures and sacred power, Thaleia’s gift may be her people’s last line of defense.
Her destiny may be to save Greece…
…but is one girl strong enough to stop an entire army?

Night of Pan is the first book in a trilogy about the Greek Oracle of Delphi. I’m not a huge Greek myth fan, I’m more of a Norse mythos kind of girl, but I do love the history of the Classics. This book was a great blend of history and myth with a dash of young adult adventure.

The prose is both lyrical and to the point. I could feel the Gods when they appeared in the book or showed their prophecies with Thaleia. It was both haunting and magical. I like that Strickland shows the Gods’ own weaknesses and humanlike qualities that we see in their myths. It made them feel real.

Thaleia is the only human character I really felt connected to. She seemed outside the realm of both mortal and immortal. Which does make sense, given her purpose. The reader is supposed to take this miraculous journey with her, not other humans.

However, I feel that it would have been nice to be able to understand and be a part of her Mom’s life or even her friend Sophia. For instance, her friendship with Sophia doesn’t seem as strong as she says it is. I know they are supposed to be like sisters, but I didn’t feel that energy in Thaleia’s narrative. A little of it was there, just not enough to completely justify to me that they would go thick and thin for each other.

I’ve read some reviews that this book is written purely for education and though I can see what they mean, I disagree. There is a glossary with sites to go to for references and there is a study guide of sorts (you know the kind with questions that the reader answers). It does make the book seem targeted for schools or book clubs, but I like those type of things for something people don’t really know or think about outside of their educational enviornment.

I like those type of questions to think about and wonder. I wouldn’t write an essay about them, but I do like them. Now, do I think this book needs the study guide questions? No, but it is fun for the bookworm who just wants to reflect on what they’ve read. Is the glossary important? Yes. There are words I never heard of and it was nice to look at them and say “ahhh, now I get it.” The Greek alphabet section seemed a little not needed though.

However, if it is the author’s intention to educate as well as give the reader a good story, she did a good job. I love the story and the way Pan moves in the book. I felt like I was in a trance during those moments. Sure, more could be done with the emotional connection of the friends, but it makes sense that that isn’t the center of the book. There is a war going on between the priest and Thaleia as well as a war between the Greeks and Persians. Sometimes, the depth of a friendship needs to be set aside for the true bulk of the story.

Would I continue in this series? Yes. Pan’s flute music has me enthralled.

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