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Friday, May 11, 2018

Hermes:Tales of the Trickster. Written and illustrated by Geroge O'Connor. First Second, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2018. $14.50 ages 12 and up

"Why, a rustic setting like this would be the perfect place to find Hermes! He could help you keep an eye on your herd over there! Heh-heh. In all seriousness, though, perhaps it was Hermes's role as guardian of the flocks that led to his most-unusual child. And, to be sure, Hermes has had many unusual children."

I think I have said this is previous posts: if I had had these graphic novels to read I might have remembered names and characters more easily. Oh, and actually to know more about the Olympians family tree which is displayed prominently before this book begins.

This is George O'Connor's tenth book in the Olympians series, following books about Zeus, Athena, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Ares, Apollo, and Artemis. We can only hope that there will be more! Each is worthy of space on your library shelf, and you need no recommendation from me before purchasing every other one Mr. O'Connor pens. They are so good!

Opening pages show the teller of our story, travelling with his dog and saluting a statue of Hermes as he passes. The plan has been to sleep outdoors, but perhaps a lone farmhouse will offer welcome. Trading entertainment in exchange for food and a dry place to sleep, the traveller begins his story. It concerns Hermes, son of Maia, the eldest and brightest of the Pleiades, and Zeus.

Hermes is a trickster from birth. The first thing he does is steal Apollo's cattle. Angered, Apollo wants the rest of the gods to know that Hermes cannot be trusted and is destined to cause problems wherever he goes. Hera succumbs to Hermes and his charm. So, he is allowed to stay.

Each new tale of the trickster adds information for interested readers who will be astonished to know all that Hermes has many duties - guard dogs, athletics, peacemakers, astronomy, calendars, writing, thieves and liars, language and eloquence, politicians,  merchants of trade, hospitality, travel and boundaries, rustic divination and gambling, flocks and herds and those who watch over them. All in an effort to keep the trickster busy and out of trouble. Did it work? What do you think?

The many stories told, incorporating some that cover Hermes's son Pan (no surprise there) and references to other mythology, are full of humor and move quickly to ensure attention and connection.

"Like his father, Pan is a protector of shepherds and their flocks.
And, also like his father, Pan is possessed by a certain mischievous
bent. His cry can induce a particular state - a panic - that sets
hearts racing and flocks to scatter."

Backmatter follows, as is an expectation for this winning series. There is an author's note, a informative profile of  Hermes, a glossary that links readers back to pages and panels, illustrated profiles that provide further information about Argus Panoptes, Pan, and Typhon, as well as a bibliography and suggestions for further reading. Exceptional!

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