Happy Monday and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for LORE by Alexandra Bracken! I’m so excited because today I have an excerpt of the book to share with you! This book is truly amazing and I’m so excited to for you to find out more about it, PLUS enter for a chance to win a print copy!
Published on January 3, 2023 by Disney-Hyperion
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology, Retellings, YA
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Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals. They are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory after her family was murdered by a rival line. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man—now a god—responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek her out: Castor, a childhood friend Lore believed to be dead, and Athena, one of the last of the original gods, now gravely wounded.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and a way to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore's decision to rejoin the hunt, binding her fate to Athena's, will come at a deadly cost—and it may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
He woke to the feeling of rough ground beneath him and the stench of mortal blood. His body was slower to recover than his mind. Unwelcome sensations burned through him as his skin tightened like newly fired clay.
The dew of the grass seeped into the back of his thin blue robe, and he felt the dirt splattered on his bare legs and feet. A humiliating shiver passed through him, sweeping from scalp to heel. For the first time in seven years, he caught a chill.
The mortal blood that flowed through him was like sludge compared to the liquid sunlight of the ichor that had burned away all traces of his mortality and released him back into the world. For seven years, he had swept through lands near and far, stoked the vicious hearts of killers, nurtured the embers of conflicts into flames. He had been rage itself.
To feel the boundaries of a body again . . . to be poured back into this weak vessel . . . it was torment enough to make him pity the old gods. They had lived this atrocity two hundred and twelve times over.
He would not. This would be his final taste of mortality.
His senses were dulled, but he recognized the city and its grand park. The smell of mowed grass mingling with faint sewage. The sound of traffic in the near distance. The electric, restless feel of its veins deep beneath the street.
The corners of his mouth stretched up awkwardly, forced to remember how to smile. It had been his city once, in his mortal life; the streets had offered him riches, and the greedy had sold him pieces of power. Manhattan had once knelt before him, and would again.
He rolled, shifting into a crouch. When he was certain of his limbs, he rose slowly to his full height.
Dark blood flowed in rivers around him. A young girl, her mask ripped from her face, stared at him with unseeing eyes from the edge of the crater. A knife was still buried in her throat. A man’s head, severed from his body, bore the mask of a horse. A dagger was balanced in a limp hand that was missing fingers.
There was a faint shuffle of footsteps to his right. He reached for a sword that was no longer at his side. Three figures stepped out from beneath the shadow of the nearby trees. They crossed the paved trail between them, their faces hidden by bronze masks that each bore the visage of a serpent.
His mortal bloodline. The House of Kadmos. They had come to collect him, their new god.
He stretched his neck until it cracked, watching their approach. The hunters were awed, and it pleased him. His predecessor, the last new Ares, had been unworthy to hold the mantle of the god of war. It had been an unspeakable pleasure to kill him and claim his birthright seven years ago.
The tallest of the three hunters stepped forward. Belen. The new god watched, amused, as the young man plucked the arrows from the bodies in a ruthless harvest. A shame that his only surviving offspring had been born a bastard. He could not be the heir of Aristos Kadmou, the mortal the new god had once been. Still, his lips curved, and he welcomed the glow of pride at the sight of the young man. Belen lifted his mask and lowered his gaze respectfully. The god reached up, feeling along the lines of his face. The boy’s was so much like his own now. The scarred husk of decades had been peeled away from the god when he had ascended, leaving him young again. In his prime, forever.
“Most honored of us all,” Belen said, kneeling. He offered the new god a rolled bundle from the bag at his hip—a crimson silk tunic to replace the hideous sky-blue one he wore now. “We welcome you and offer the blood of your enemies in tribute to your name, as a sign of our undying loyalty. We are here to protect you with our lives until the time comes for you to be reborn again in power.”
The words were gravel in the new god’s throat. “Beyond that.” “Yes, my lord,” Belen said.
More hunters approached from behind Belen, all cloaked in a hunter’s black. They dragged a figure also wearing a tunic of sky blue.
“Bring him to me,” he told Belen.
Two black SUVs, their lights off, approached from the nearby street and drove over the grass to reach them. The Kadmides then began their work. They unrolled tarps on Central Park’s grass and rolled the dead hunters onto them. They overturned the soil. Replaced the bloodied grass. Loaded the brutalized carcasses into the trunk of yet another SUV pulling up behind them.
This same ritual, he knew, was being performed by the other bloodlines across the park.
The captive lashed out again as he was drawn forward, battering the nearest hunters with his skull like a rabid animal. They had cut the tendons of his ankles to prevent him from using his heightened speed to escape. Good.
The hunters forced him to his knees. The new god reached down to rip the hood off his head.
Gold eyes burned as they glared up at him, the sparks of power there swirling with fury. Blood poured from a wound at his forehead, staining his once-luminous skin and tunic.
“Your last useful power has been taken from you,” the new god said. He clutched a fistful of the old god’s curling brown hair and wrenched his head back, forcing his gaze up.
“I know what you desire, Godkiller,” the old god said in the ancient tongue. “And you will never find it.”
He’d only needed to know that it hadn’t been destroyed. The new god’s rage was its own kind of euphoria. He brought the razor-sharp edge of his blade to the old god’s soft mortal flesh.
The new god smiled.
“Trickster. Messenger. Traveler. Thief,” the new god said. Then he slammed the blade through the ridged bones of the prisoner’s spine. “Nothing.” Blood burst from the wound. The new god drank deep the sight of the old god’s fear—that pain, that disbelief—as his power faded. A shame the new god could not add it to his own.
“It’s the way of things, is it not?” the new god said. He leaned down, watching as the last flare of life left the old god’s eyes. “The way of your father, and his father before him. The old gods must die to allow the new to rise.”
The park was silent around them, save for the wet sounds of the new god’s sawing blade, and the invigorating crack as he finally separated the head from its body. The new god thrust the head of Hermes high enough for his followers to see.
The hunters hissed in pleasure, banging their fists against their chests. The new god took one final look at it before tossing the head onto the nearest tarp with the other remains. Come morning, there would be no sign of the eight gods who had appeared like lightning within the boundaries of Central Park, or those hunters who had fallen in their attempts to kill them.
The city thrummed around him, aching with barely constrained chaos. It sang to him a song of coming terror. He understood that longing—to be unleashed. “I am Wrath.” The new god knelt, dipping his fingers into the bloody mud. “I am your master.” He dragged them down over his cheeks. “I am your glory.” The hunters around him lifted their masks to do the same, smearing the damp earth across their eager faces.
A new age was in reach, waiting to be seized by one strong enough to dare. “Now,” the new god said, “we begin.”
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What do you think about Lore? Have you added it to your tbr yet? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous day!