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David M. Graham, Pandora Revisited, Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 2005, 451 pp.
Children (age 10-15 )
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Zoia Barzakh, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, email@example.com
Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
David M. Graham
, b. 1971
David M. Graham is an American actor, theater director and teacher. Raised in rural Georgia, he moved to Los Angeles in 1999 “to pursue his dream of being poor and hungry”, as he himself writes with characteristic self-irony. Here he has had “more jobs than he could count and remember” -- including BMW-salesman and grave-digger. Finally, he found himself as a director and an actor in the Shakespeare by the Sea theatre in Los Angeles. Among the plays he directed there are Romeo and Juliet (2003), The Merchant of Venice (2007), Antony & Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night's Dream (2008).
This book is his first attempt as a novelist. It was supposed to by the first in the series A Little Mythunderstanding with the second book Ra, Unleashed!, but, to our knowledge, none of the following books of the series have appeared in the past 13 years.
Bio at imdb.com (accessed: October 1, 2018)
Bio prepared by Zoia Barzakh, Bar Ilan University, email: email@example.com
This fantasy novel for young readers is set in the present day. Diana, 14 years old, and her brother Jason, 9 years old, travel with their parents from the USA to Greece to the funeral of their great grandmother and the reading of her will. Diana, led by a mysterious fish, finds a box in a sea-cave and opens it. What had been placed inside the box and now have broken loose are all the ancient monsters that had pursued the humanity in ancient times. This is told to the siblings and Dmitri, their swimming coach, by Prometheus, who appears immediately to find out what has happened. According to Prometheus, the gods placed all these creatures in the box as a kind of test for humanity: if humans are silly enough to open the box for the second time, then they, as an inferior race, deserve their fate of being pursued by these monsters. Zeus is particularly scornful of humanity, while Prometheus repeatedly expresses his belief in mankind. Diana, out of a feeling of responsibility for what has happened, volunteers to help Prometheus to deal with the problem; Jason and Dmitri, with whom she is in love, join her. Although they seek help on Olympus, which is still inhabited by gods, the only immortals who promised help to them are Hermes and Charon. However, after some debate Zeus promises his help, too, if they find and bring him the Golden Fleece. During their visit to Olympus, Prometheus thoroughly offends Zeus by reminding him that “he is not the only king of gods”.
Meanwhile, the children must return home to participate in their great-grandmother’s funeral and to hear her will. Here a surprise await them: the two of them, and not their parents, as everyone had expected, became owners of the house and all their great-grandmother’s belongings. This fact inspires sudden rage in Mr. Korangar, a friend of their father who volunteered to be a translator and a witness of the ceremony. It turned out that, while it was believed that children’s parents would become owners of the old lady’s belongings, Korangar persuaded their father to sell the house and all the other property to him. Korangar -- whose name is a palindrome of Ragnarok and who owns the company named LOCI based in Norway, which implies further Scandinavian overtones -- immediately starts blackmailing the children, threatening them with possible “accident” that can occur to their parents if they don’t agree to the bargain. Indeed, the episode is followed by sudden disappearance the children’s parents. A strange letter from an unknown “friend”, telling the children that their parents are alive and unharmed, is of little comfort.
Meanwhile, Diana finds among her great-grandmother’s possessions a whistle that can cause small earthquakes, and uses it to save herself from the attack of the Chimaira. She decides to hide it inside the box of Pandora.
Diana and Jason have both powerful friends and powerful enemies, and face a dozen different complicated quests, including fighting several ancient monsters, finding the Golden Fleece and unbinding Prometheus, who in the course of events is bound by Zeus again. Most of the ancient Greek monsters appear to be rather easy to fight, but the most dangerous enemy is obviously Mr. Koramgar, who is also clearly the one who stands behind the luring of Diana into opening the box of Pandora and distracting Argus, who was its guard. He can change his appearance and also possesses other magical powers. By the end of the first book he captures each of the children once and demands they tell him the whereabouts of the magic whistle.
By the end of the book Diana is free, but Jason dies while releasing her from the Sphinx, who, under Korangar’s command, was guarding her. However, Heracles promises to free the boy from Hades, which he, as he says, has already done for another mortal (presumably Alcestis). Meanwhile, at the end of the book the boy finds himself not in Greek Hades, but rather in the Egyptian Hall of Dead.
As is common in young adult fiction, the main underlying topic of the book is the formation and development of a child’s character. The didactic purpose of the book becomes clear from the first lines, namely from the episodes where we see both children in their school environment: Diana should become a better team-player, less selfish and more reasonable, and Jason, a clever but shy boy, a typical victim of bullying both by his schoolmates and his sister, should become braver, gain more self-confidence and self-respect. And both of children must learn to get along with each other.
The moral emphasis of the book shapes the children’s adventures with the gods. For instance, each god is represented as flat, and one-sided, each having one single character trait: Zeus, as Diana states it, is “just a big bully”, Hercules is eager for adventures, Prometheus is full of sympathy towards humanity, Hermes is evasive and cunning, etc. The author attempts to encompass into one plot all the most famous plots and motives from Greek mythology -- Pandora’s box, binding and unbinding of Prometheus, several of Hercules’ labours, the Golden Fleece, the riddle of Sphinx, etc. -- which leads to a lack of unity and to an over-simplified presentation of each of the heroic deeds. However, given the approach to the story, the gods and myths are secondary to the children’s character development.
David M. Graham (Standard Copyright License) Published by Lulu Enterprises, Inc.