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Prometheus is again on the run, and he flees in and out of time before landing in gritty, ramshackle 1795 Eden City. Enter our narrator: Nell, a young girl and aspiring novelist―she and her crafty pa travel the city with their stage show, trying to get their audiences to open up their pockets and purses. As always, Prometheus has a soft spot for humans in need, but using his powers to get his new friends out of trouble will betray his hiding place to the gods! Terry Deary masterfully interweaves two plots, with the action jumping at a whirlwind pace from Mount Olympus to the back alleys of dingy Tudor City.
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Terry Deary is the author of over 160 books. He writes both fiction and nonfiction to much acclaim and has a hand in the television, theater, and radio worlds as well. His Horrible History series has sold twenty million copies worldwide, and his books have been translated into twenty-eight languages. Deary has won numerous awards, including Blue Peter's Best Nonfiction Author of the Century in the United Kingdom. He was named a Doctor of Education by Sunderland University. For more information please visit www.terry-deary.net.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Greece—around 4,000 years ago
I wasn't there myself, but I met someone who knows exactly what went on in
those days. You will have to trust me when I tell you that every word of this
story is true . . . probably. All right, a LOT of it is true. Other parts I may have
made up to fill in the gaps so that it all makes sense. Yes, you'll see that I
tell a lot of lies. But liars are the only people you CAN trust in this world.
Zeus sat on a cloud.
You can do that sort of thing when you're a Greek god. But YOU shouldn't
try it. You would need a very long ladder to get up to the clouds, and as soon
as you stepped off, you would probably fall clean through the cloud. This
could get very messy—especially if someone is walking underneath you.
Only special people like me and my pa could sail up and over the clouds.
How could I do that? Wait and see.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Zeus on his cloud. He wore wings and was the most
beautiful thing you've ever seen—so beautiful that ordinary people (like you
and me) couldn't bear to look at him.
Next to Zeus sat his wife, Hera, and she was not so beautiful because she
had a scowl on her face. Her nose crinkled like a caterpillar's back, and her
lips were as thin as an ant's leg.
"You promised me a vacation," she snapped.
"This is a vacation, dearest," Zeus said and smiled. "A sparkling blue sea and
miles of sandy beach."
"The beach is covered with human corpses!" she screeched.
"There's a war on, my lovely," her husband said with a shrug. "We can sit and
watch it just as those humans watch their little plays at the theater."
Hera pouted. "I wouldn't know. You never take me to the theater."
"This is real life—much more fun," he argued. "We can even join in."
"You are too mean to take me to the theater. You're so mean that you'd steal
a dead fly from a blind spider."
"Only if you were feeling hungry," he muttered.
Hera didn't hear. Just as well.
"The town stinks," she said. "Humans stink. I don't know why you don't just
send down a thunderbolt and burn it to the ground. A good fire would clean it
"Ah, fire," Zeus said and nodded. "They don't need my fire. The humans can
make fire for themselves."
Hera turned to him with a face as sharp as a shrew. "And who gave them the
power of fire?"
"I know," Zeus said and sighed.
Hera slapped and plumped up the cloud to make herself more comfortable. "I
asked you a question, Zeus. Who gave them fire?"
"My cousin Prometheus," Zeus said and closed his eyes. He was wishing
that he hadn't mentioned it.
"Yes, your cousin Theus! He stole fire from the gods and gave it to those
creeping little, fighting little, stinking little humans."
"Don't get on my back. I have punished him . . ." Zeus began.
"Oh, you punished him. You had him chained to a rock. And every day the
Avenger came down in the shape of an eagle and ripped out his liver. What
sort of punishment is that?" Hera snapped, and thundery sparks crackled in
"Every night the liver grew back, so he had to suffer the agony every day for
two hundred years . . ." Zeus argued and grew angry as the cloud grew dark.
"But what happened? Eh? What happened?" Hera sneered. "You let him
"I didn't exactly let him . . ."
"All right. You let Hercules rescue him. Same difference. And where is Theus
now? Hiding. He's traveled through time and space, and he could be
anywhere. The poor little Avenger has worn out its wings looking for him!"
"Poor? Little? It's a blooming great bird with the sharpest beak this side of
Mount Olympus. Its talons can rip a rhino's skin . . ."
"Don't argue with me, Zeus. You always lose," Hera said with a shake of her
head. "Theus gave fire to the humans, and he got away with it. I only hope
that the Avenger finds him one day. It's still out there searching!"
Zeus propped himself up on an elbow. "I did make Theus a promise, my dear.
I gave him a challenge. I said that if he could find one true human hero, I'd
Hera snorted . . . and then her nose twitched as the stench from the city
slipped into her nostrils. "He'll fail. He'll never find a human hero. The Avenger
will find Theus first."
"The Avenger will be a bit busy, my dear," Zeus said and peered over the
edge of the cloud to the city by the sea below. "There will be a lot of warriors
here who need to be taken down to Hades and the underworld. I'm tired of
"You're like a baby," Hera said and laughed bitterly. "You soon get tired of a
"I said Troy, not toy," Zeus said with a sniff. "The Greeks have been trying to
take the city for ten years now—that's not getting tired quickly! Ten years!"
Hera rolled over and lay on her stomach next to her husband. The gods
Inside the city the ragged Trojans trudged through the streets, thin and weary
from the endless war. With secret tunnels and hidden doors, enough food
had slipped into the city to keep them going for ten years. Bottomless wells
of sweet water would last them forever. But the spirit of the people was as
threadbare as their clothes. They longed for freedom. Freedom from a city
that had become a prison—freedom from the fear that their prison walls would
fall and let in sharp, slicing, stabbing death.
There were no rats in the city of Troy. They'd all been eaten long ago.
Outside the city a thousand Greek ships rested and rotted on the hot shore.
Tattered tents stood, faded and patched, flapping in the warm wind that blew
over the soft sand. Slouching soldiers sat on rocks, polished their worn
weapons for the 3,600th time, and longed for home.
"So, what are you going to do about it, husband?" Hera asked.
"Put an end to it," Zeus said.
Hera nodded. "And would you like me to tell you who is going to win?"
Zeus's shoulders dropped. "You are going to anyway."
Hera gave a small smile like a cat that's cornered a bowl of milk. "The
Greeks are going to enter Troy. They are going to kill the pathetic Prince
Paris and his hideous Helen."
"I thought you might say that," Zeus muttered. Hera held a big grudge against
Paris and Helen. Ten years ago the goddesses held a beauty contest, and
Prince Paris was the judge. Hera offered the judge power over all of Asia.
Athena, the goddess of war, offered him victory wherever he fought.
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, offered him the gift of the most beautiful
woman in the world. And everyone knew that was Helen of Sparta.
Paris chose Aphrodite as the winner and won the hand of Helen. Hera chose
"I hate Helen! Hate her, hate her, HATE HER!" she cried.
"You don't like her, then?" Zeus said with a smile.
"I can't TELL you how much I hate her," she screamed, and the cloud
shivered and shook out a storm of raindrops onto the dusty heads of the
Trojans below. "She is not the most beautiful woman in the world—her hair is
too straight, her nose is too short, and as for her ears . . . well, what can I
say about a woman with ears like that?"
"And she's married to Menelaus, of course," Zeus added, stoking up his
"Ooooh! Yes! A faithless woman. Married to poor King Menelaus, and still
she ran off with Paris of Troy." Hera pulled back her lips in a savage
sneer. "Her Troy boy!" she said and looked pleased with her little joke. "And
just look at the trouble she's caused," she added with a sweep of her hand at
the scene below. "A thousand ships and fifty thousand soldiers sent to take
her back to Greece. Me? I'd leave her to rot in Troy. From the smell of the
place, it is rotting already."
Zeus sniffed and nodded.
Hera turned quickly to Zeus. "So? Whose side are you going to join? If you
let Troy win, then I will make you wish that you lived in Hades with all of the
tortures that the humans suffer there after death."
Zeus held up his mighty hands. "Oh, don't worry, wife. Troy will lose because
the old curse says that Paris will bring about the destruction of the city. We
can't go against the old curses," Zeus said.
"The old curse also says that the Greek hero Achilles will die in Troy." She
jabbed a finger at the Greek tents on the plains of Troy. "He's still alive."
Zeus rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Yes, there's so much to do. I don't know
where to start."
"Send for the Avenger," Hera told him. "It'll be handy to have it around when
Achilles and Paris are killed. The Avenger can take them straight to Hades."
Zeus nodded, placed his fingers on his lips, and gave a whistle that shoo...
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