Omega Beginnings

Omega Beginnings

This is going to be another very short post but I feel the need to talk about the Omega Beginnings mini-series before my scheduled review of Omega next month.

Omega Beginnings is a series of eight short stories which were published monthly in the lead up to the release of Omega, the first novel in Lizzy Ford’s new young adult series. The title of each short reflects the name of the character that it focuses on – Alessandra, Mismatch, Phoibe, Lantos, Theodocia, Niko, Cleon and Herakles. The shorts are currently available individually on Amazon but an eBook collecting all of them is due for release later this month.

The mini-series takes place twelve years before the events of Omega and is set in a world where the Greek Gods have returned to dominate man. In light of this, Greece has become a major world superpower and humans are ruled by a Triumvirate formed by the Supreme Priest (representing the Gods), the Supreme Magistrate (representing humans) and the Greek Queen (a human born from the Bloodline favoured by the Gods). The Gods largely distance themselves from human affairs but are contactable by the Oracle of Delphi who forms a bridge between the two worlds.

The story centres on Alessandra – a six year old girl who possesses the power to make her toys come to life. When she accidentally awakens a grotesque at the Temple of Artemis, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a complex web of political intrigue. Alessandra’s parents have kept her hidden for years because they know that she’s the next Oracle and could very well be the one destined to save mankind from the machinations of the Gods…

Omega Beginnings is clearly designed to provide much of the scene setting for the Omega series. Although I have been advised that it’s not necessary to read the mini-series to completely understand Omega, it serves the function of moving all characters into the places that they need to be, explaining how all of them are involved in the story-line and giving a first taste of how Ford’s world works.

For a first glimpse, it’s actually all pretty intriguing. Although the stories are only incredibly short (I feel that I should note that, although the individual eBooks are each around 65 pages long, most of this is taken up by a lengthy excerpt from Omega), they were enough to wet my appetite and give me an idea of what was going on. Ford’s world building is excellent. It’s a very political setting and each of the characters fit into it in a different way, whether they’re looking for political power (Cleon), favour from the Gods (Theodocia) or even redemption for past acts (Herakles).

I’ve loved Greek Mythology ever since I was little and I found it interesting how Ford tied this into a contemporary setting. Magic is only used by the Gods and the Oracle so most characters are humans who are just simply surviving in a world where they can easily find themselves as pawns in the power games of a God. While some aspects of the world did not seem to fit so well (I don’t really consider grotesques to be really connected with Greek history and mythology) other aspects like the popularity of underground gladiatorial games and X-Factor-esque TV shows to select the next Oracle are a really nice way of modernising the myths.

Each of the shorts is loosely connected to one another through its characters rather than an overarching plot. In Alessandra’s story, she animates a grotesque whom she names Mismatch. In Mismatch’s story, he pays a visit to his last living descendant who is Princess Phoibe. Phoibe is a lonely girl who is only friends with a shadowy spirit who visits her in her room (Lantos). And so on and so forth. Through their short narratives, we learn a little about each of these eight key players and see both how their lives are connected and the events that lead them to the positions that they will hold in Omega.

As intriguing as the mini-series is, it does have a few problems. Firstly, it works far better if read as a whole as none of the shorts really stand-alone very well. You need to read each one in turn to fully appreciate the world building as this does grow with every instalment. The stories are also very exposition heavy as they essentially serve the purpose of giving us the entire background of each character and tell the reader why they should care about them (or not in the cast of gits like Niko and Cleon).

Some of the stories are also, frankly, better than others. I personally found the three that focused on the female characters (Alessandra, Phoibe and Theodocia) to be the most engrossing as I just felt that these characters were easier to empathise with. Both Lyssa and Phoibe are vulnerable little girls and so you quickly feel sorry for them while Docia is just a wonderful female lead, balancing out her faith, emotion and strength of character in order to do what she believes is best for her unborn child (rather than what Niko believes she should do with it). In comparison, some of the other stories seemed a little tacked on to the overarching plot. Cleon, in particular, did not feel like an especially central character but perhaps his importance will become clearer when I have read Omega.

I also have some concerns that perhaps this mini-series should not be read before Omega, despite the fact that it was released on Amazon first. As Omega Beginnings employs the plot convenience of amnesia on two separate occasions (a fact that annoys me no end. Seriously, why do writers feel the need to develop a character just to immediately wipe their memory of said development?), the reader is left in the frustrating position of knowing more about the backstory than either Lyssa or Mismatch/Adonis. I suppose only time will tell whether or not this affects my reading of Omega but it seems strange that I’m going to start the novel in a more enlightened position than two of the major protagonists.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about this mini-series as it’s so very short. The stories are well written and certainly did make me interested to pick up Omega, despite the fact that they’re a little clumsy about exposition at times. At the time of writing, all of the short stories except for Herakles are free on Amazon.co.uk and based on this I would certainly say that it’s worthwhile downloading them to see what you think.

I also feel I should note that all of the proceeds from the pre-orders of Omega are going to be donated to a charity chosen by Ford’s fan-base on its release week. If you enjoy Omega Beginnings, you can pre-order its sequel [here].

You can purchase each of the eBooks individually from Amazon.co.uk by clicking on the following links:

Alessandra

Mismatch

Phoibe

Lantos

Theodocia

Niko

Cleon

Herakles

Alternatively, the collected edition is due for release on 12th September 2015 and can be pre-ordered [here].

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Omega | Arkham Reviews

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