Reviews of Face of Apollo, the (1998)
Review by jsgoddess (2005-06-27)
The premise of The Face of Apollo is a fascinating one. Jeremy is a young man, orphaned and living with his relatives. An injured woman stumbles into his life, secretly, and she tells him of a special burden she is carrying to a distant city. She tells him no more than the names of the people she seeks; when she is killed in an attack, Jeremy flees with her burden--a small, partial-face mask.
He knows nothing of the mask's powers, but when he accidentally puts it on, Jeremy finds that the world appears to be a different place. His nearsightedness is cured. He can hear at amazing distances. He can control livestock. Slowly, the mask transforms him into an avatar of Apollo.
This is a great idea for a fantasy series, as Jeremy learns his new role as a god. But the execution leaves something to be desired. I can't really fault Saberhagen's skill at character-creation--Jeremy is winning, and other characters have some complexity. But the narrative is slower than it should be, and Saberhagen's explication is far too repetitive.