Works in the popular sub-genre of Weird Western often have the feel of outrageous history or exaggerated Steampunk. Others might come off as just strange or bizarre while on occasion readers will even find stories of horror or the occult. So when C. E. Martin published the first installment of a short story serial in June 2016, we didn’t really know what to expect with a title like Outlaws of Olympus.
It turns out, the title is spot on. What if the Gods of Olympus migrated to the Wild West and mingled with rest of the mortal world? What if many of the outlaws of the old west actually came from the works of Greek Mythology? And what if these stories were collected and presented in the guise of the classic dime novels that made outlaws more popular and idealistic than notorious? Well, you would end up with the fresh pulp stories called Outlaws of Olympus.
After Hercules’ stepmother Hera murdered his family and friends in a fit of rage over the god’s fame, the son of Zeus was cursed with immortality and banished to wander Earth for eternity. Now known as Father Ercole Morricone and a devoted celebrant of the Church, the son of Zeus prays for the souls of man while fighting the wicked beasts and beings sent down from an Olympus intent on terrorizing the godless world of mortal man.
What makes these stories so compelling is the raw dedication to pulp westerns while remaining loyal to the mythological Gods of Olympus. The clever mixture of late 19th century western lore and the religious culture of an ancient theology results in a fresh take on an age-old literary form.
These well written stories are preceded with the disclaimer that they are filled with “graphic violence and pulp action that may be too extreme for sensitive readers,” but as a fan of the genre, it would be disappointing if they were anything but mature in nature.
In the opening story of Outlaws of Olympus which shares the series’ title, author C. E. Martin allows readers to gradually discover who our hero truly is through his gentle but stern actions in an otherwise violent world. The well placed character development sets a nice tone for the rest of the story as the tension slowly builds, allowing the mystery behind who the antagonist really is to grow as well. In the end, the reveal of why the Quicksilver Kid is so evil sets the tone for the entire series.
On a lighter note, intent on deflecting his own identity and storied past while delivering his message of God, Father Morricone is first introduced using differing names. This ironically comes back to bite the man when his newfound and recurring companion, former soldier Captain Bartholomew John Black, playfully begins to call the priest “Macaroni.” Though this type of banter is sometimes awkward, it does lend to the authenticity of Father Morricone’s compassion and forgiveness, which in turn brings a sense of validity to the story.
The second story, “Black’s Magic” (July 2016), follows Father Morricone as he faces a marauding tribe of female Indians bent of murdering the white settlers who’ve invaded their land. In “The Great White Hunter” (July 2016), the third installment, our hero meets a notorious hunter in search of a great white buffalo that may be more than just a rare breed. If the appearances of Greek characters like Adrestia and the Minotaur are any indication of things to come, the forthcoming story, “With Forked Tongue”, should be quite intriguing.
All of the stories are short enough for a quick read (under seventy pages), but complex enough to keep the reader’s interests in a single sitting. Each installment is a stand-alone story with a defined conclusion, but for the best development, it is recommended to begin with the first story and continue on in order of release.
The Outlaws of Olympus by C. E. Martin is a fun new series that will appeal to fans of both pulp westerns and Greek Mythology. Even if you’re not a fan of the genres, give these books a try. You just might change your mind.