Orion and the Conqueror

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Orion is more than a man, but less than a god. His first moment of consciousness finds him in battle against the Macedonians, where he proves himself such an accomplished fighter that Philip of Macedonia asks Orion to join his army. Orion’s memory begins surfacing, but his memories are at odds with reality. He remembers events that are in the distant past, and remembers, as people, entities the Greeks consider to be gods.

Philip’s wife Olympias takes an interest in Orion. While many of the Macedonians regard Olympias as a witch, Orion recognizes her a Hera, one of the godlike “creators” with whom he is familiar. Eventually, Orion falls under Olympia’s power and finds that he must do as she commands. It is her desire that her son Alexandros become king soon; yet her husband Philip is alive and well. Orion, as his memories return and become a bit more clear, recalls his true love Anya, also known as Athena. Overcoming great odds, he meets with her and finds out that all of space-time may unravel if he makes the wrong moves. The creators need his help, and to help them he must do the one thing he finds most repulsive.

An interesting mix of genres, Bova’s story is compelling. Orion is a thoroughly convincing character. While he is almost invincible on the battlefield, and is engineered to be physically superior to other mortals, he struggles against the “gods” who created him, and is able to be enough of an annoyance to them to satisfy the reader.