In the final volume of the Olympians series, Dionysos: The New God, the first Olympian Hestia narrates the tale of the gods. She explains how the gods defeated the Titans and created twelve thrones in Olympus. She then begins to weave the tale of the half-mortal god Dionysos.
As the tale begins to unfold, we are introduced to Dionysos, a son of the god Zeus and the mortal princess Semele. She worships Zeus and he is drawn by her adoration; they begin a relationship. Zeus visits Semele in many different forms, since seeing the true image of a god is deadly for mortals. Unfortunately, after she becomes pregnant, she sees Zeus’ true god form, bursts into flames, and dies. Zeus saves the baby by sewing the baby into his thigh. Dionysos is born and so begins the tale of his complex upbringing.
In the kingdom of Thebes, Dionysos is delivered to his aunt, Princess Ino, by Hermes. Dionysos is raised the first few years of his life as a mortal girl to disguise him. But the child of Zeus quickly gains enemies and is brought to the forest to live with satyrs (spirits in Greek mythology that take a half human male/half horse form). There he discovers his first love, male satyr Ampelos. Unfortunately, Dionysos’s friend and lover meets a horrible fate. Although Dionysos loses his first love, he creates the first grapevine from Ampelos’s flesh. With this grapevine Dionysos creates wine.
Heartbroken, Dionysos tries to find himself in the deserts of Syria and Egypt. He travels throughout different lands promoting his love of wine. He gains a reputation of spreading madness amongst people. Dionysos has the ability to change things with his touch. He travels around creating elixirs by changing liquids to wine. He continues his travels to Naxos, where he marries Ariadne and goes on a quest to the underworld in order to conquer death. This final mission will test everything Dionysos knows. It will take all his skills and powers to seal his destiny. Dionysos must choose to accept his complex fate as both a mortal and god.
Even if the earlier books in the series were not read, this story of Dionysos is exciting. Dionysos is an engaging story of a half mortal/half god who goes from causing death and madness to bringing joy and love of drink. He is a dynamic character. His love for his mother and family makes his story an interesting one. He is charming and has many whimsical adventures.
The author/artist George O’Connor does a wonderful job illustrating this tale. The panels are easy to understand. He uses a lot of red and earthy tones, highlighting Dionysos’s fiery personality.
This graphic novel is complex and will appeal to older children. There is some brief nudity and some frightening images. Children who enjoy Greek mythology will be captivated by Dionysos’s quest.
Olympians, vol 12: Dionysos: The New God
By George O’Connor
Macmillan First Second, 2022
Publisher Age Rating: 9-14
Series ISBNs and Order
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)