Cover image for Ariadne's web
Ariadne's web
Saberhagen, Fred, 1930-2007.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Tor, [2000]

Physical Description:
412 pages ; 22 cm.
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
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Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, conspires to rescue the man she loves from the gods' sacrificial altar, but their troubles increase when Dionysus intervenes.

Author Notes

Author Fred Saberhagen was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 18, 1930. Before writing full time, he served in the Air Force, worked as an electronics technician, and wrote and edited for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His first novel, The Golden People, was published in 1964. He has written science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and historical fantasy. The novel Berserker was published in 1967 and became the first book in his popular Berserker series. His company, Berserker Works, Ltd., has produced several computer games based on his characters. He died on June 29, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The sequel to The Face of Apollo (1998) continues the war of the ancient gods, who survive only as Faces worn by a succession of mortals. The protagonist is Dionysus, whose Face is the object of deadly struggle between contenders including Theseus, who is neither king nor heir apparent of Athens here but instead an unscrupulous, rather scruffy pirate. Ariadne's legendary thread is in this context the magical ability to see connections--that is, the web linking things--and her half-brother the Minotaur is the most civilized, compassionate, and ethical character in the story. Besides the mythical characters there is Alex, a soldier who first hopelessly loves Ariadne from afar and outlaws himself by helping her, Theseus, and labyrinth creator Daedalus escape, and then becomes allied with Apollo against squalid, thuggish, and homicidal Shiva the Destroyer, whose Face is worn by a man of ignoble character. Although Saberhagen sometimes underwrites and thereby diminishes emotional impact, the suspense of the briskly moving, well-told tale should keep avid fantasy readers hooked right to the end. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

This followup to The Face of Apollo plants one foot in the mythology of ancient Greece and the other in Saberhagen's wry take on the frailties of human nature-a slippery position, as it turns out. The novel is based on the myth of Prince Theseus, who is shanghaied to Crete as tribute to evil King Minos, cajoles Princess Ariadne into stringing him through the deadly Labyrinth and kills the monstrous Minotaur. To Saberhagen, though, Theseus is an opportunistic pirate who uses, then dumps, Ariadne in his pursuit of a god's Face: a mask "as clear as fine glass" that, when donned by a mortal avatar, sinks below his skin and endows him with divine attributes--but not with immortality. Meanwhile, Alex, a soldier smitten by hopeless love for Ariadne, becomes the avatar of Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy. Aided by the genial Minotaur Asterion, the source of Saberhagen's pithiest reflections on human foibles, Alex/Dionysus swashes his way through several rousing Aegean adventures to rescue Ariadne, but his knees buckle at the sight of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, whose "great game" of eternal warfare against Apollo, god of the sun, anchors this fantasy series. Despite all the fun, Saberhagen's redo of classical myth has pitfalls. Jerky shifts in point of view disrupt the action; names seemingly snatched haphazardly out of Bulfinch's Mythology tend to distract. Most problematic of all, Saberhagen waters down mighty gods into mere rollicking humans, denaturing deities who for time immemorial have given Western culture its metaphors for the human condition. Something necessary to human imagination is thereby lost--and the old magic just isn't there. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

After the brutal death of her royal father, the princess Ariadne resolves to prevent her beloved Theseus from becoming a sacrifice to the whims of the dark god who presided over the assassination. Saberhagen (The Face of Apollo) gives the familiar story of Theseus and the Minotaur a whimsical twist as gods and heroes come together in an elaborate scheme to further the twin causes of love and justice. The author of the popular Berserker series brings his storytelling expertise and gracious wit to bear in this seriocomic mythic fantasy that belongs in most libraries. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.