Review: "Apollo – Claimed by the Sungod" by Rachel Kinsley
When I decided I wanted to write mythology erotica, I went to Amazon and had a look what else was published in that niche. The first books to catch my eye were those of Rachel Kinsley's series "Mistress to the Gods".
There was never a question as to whether I would read this. At first, I was specifically interested in those books about my favourite gods, but when I read a review about the complete collection, praising the variation in kinks featured throughout the series, I knew I had to get the collection.
"Apollo - Claimed by the Sungod" is the first book in the series and if you follow Rachel Kinsley on Twitter, you may catch a day where it's offered for free, if you feel unsure as to whether you will like it, even after reading this review.
The story is akin to Ovid's version of the myth of Medusa: Khamaileon or Khamai, a priestess of Athena, is seduced by a god despite her vows of chastity and is taken by her divine lover in Athena's temple.
The story takes its time to set the scene and establish a calm, peaceful atmosphere before Apollo's arrival in Khamai's life. She is happy. She pledged herself to Athena and aims to become high priestess one day. Then Apollo shows up and everything falls apart.
I would have liked for her to be more reluctant, especially at a beautifully done scene where she feels the coldness of the metal key to the temple, a symbol of her responsibility as a priestess, and hears the rippling water of Athena's holy pool beneath her statue, representing an earlier established connection Khamai feels to her goddess through the sacred water. I feel it would have made sense for her to feel bound by her loyalty to Athena. On the other hand, she's not much older than 18 years old, I think, so it's not absurd she would make a fateful decision despite her better judgement.
Khamai is very likable to me. She is a young woman with drive and passion for the life she chose and while it's established that she doesn't know much about physical love, she never comes across to me as overly naive. I care about Khamai and I feared for her, considering the wrath that can consume Athena, despite all her wisdom.
Speaking of Athena, I loved her eventual appearance in the book. She is fierce, proud and dignified. She doesn't take any shit from Apollo. She's awesome and she knows it. I hope she will show up in future installments of the series, even if she, as a virgin goddess, can only be a minor character.
Apollo, often described as "the ideal of youthful manliness", can easily impress Khamai with his beauty and he knows it. Without revealing too much, I hope, I found the emotional coldness Apollo often shows in myth perfectly represented in this story. He's beautiful but detached and cold, despite the light he brings.
Some myths are alluded to throughout the book, to my great delight.
As might be expected given the similarities, the myth of Medusa is referenced briefly when Khamai fears Athena's punishment once she's no longer a virgin. Medusa was punished by being turned into a horrible monster with snakes for hair. Khamai's fate is different, but hardly less cruel.
Another myth is also briefly mentioned, the one in which Teiresias, a priest of Zeus, had lived as a women for seven years before being turned back into a man. When Zeus and Hera fought about who took more pleasure from sexual intercourse, men or women, they came to Teiresias to settle the matter. Teiresias agreed with Zeus, claiming women had nine times more joy from sex than men. Furious, Hera struck him with blindness. Unable to lift Hera's curse, Zeus gave Teiresias the gift of second sight and a long life.
I really loved the book and what I mention here are only nit-pickings or tidbits I want to share. This wouldn't be a mythology blog if I had nothing to say about the mythology and life in ancient Greece :-)
"It [becoming high priestess] was the one route through which a woman could hold power in the public sphere."
Hetairai, a class of highly educated courtesans, provided companionship to their clients as well as sex. They could charge a lot of money for their services and become very wealthy, and control their own finances, as opposed to wives in most of ancient Greece.
They could become quite influential if they had powerful clients, as e.g. Thaïs, allegedly the hetaira of Alexander the Great, is said to have influenced Alexander to burn the Persian royal palace in Persepolis to the ground.
But Khamai may well be right, and a hetaira doesn't hold public power by herself, she just taps into the power of her client(s).
Apollo's "clean-shaven cheekbones"
Khamai would know that Apollo is a young, beardless god. His lack of a beard symbolises his eternal youth. He doesn't need to shave, ever.
It is left ambiguous, but I suppose a youthful god looking 17 or 18 years old would have fit quite well with Khamai, who I understood isn't much older.
Maybe a more mature appearance was either more attractive to the author or to the intended audience and that is why his beardlessness is introduced in this way.
"My only knowledge had been from works of art, but art only offered two extremes - either the realistic but flaccid, members of statues, or the highly-stylized and laughable cocks of pottery."
Of course, the extend to which Khamai may have seen phalli or actual penises is debatable. But male nudity and phalli were quite common back in ancient Greece. Herms, simple statues of Hermes, would stand at the roads, in the city and at the entrance of a home. Rubbing its phallus was supposed to bring good luck.
"women could come too"
The reason women were said to be more lustful than men in ancient Greece (and possibly the reason for Teireisias' judgement) was not merely that women could have an orgasm too, but that they could have multiple orgasms: for a man, sex had a natural end with the ejaculation, while women could go on and on and on and on.
"The most beautiful and terrible woman I had ever seen dominated the parthenon.
Athena scoffed. My chest caved. Athena was well-known to be Zeus' favorite child. Nothing Apollo could say would make the allmighty ruler of the gods and men begrudge his daughter something as simple...as miniscule...as this."
I wholeheartedly recommend this highly enjoyable read! The sex is hot and gets even hotter as the series progresses. The characters are engaging and there is enough plot for me to be excited what will happen next. Loved it!
Follow Rachel Kinsley on Twitter: @RKinsleyErotica
Buy "Apollo - Claimed by the Sungod" here.
Buy "Mistress to the Gods: the Complete Collection" here.
Browse Greek mythology erotica written by me here.
Is there any mythology erotica you think I should review? Let me know in the comments!