Why do I like it? Partly because anyone who thinks the Vulcanverse is just a retread of Greek myth (yeah, I’d be yawning too) is going to do a double take when they see this. It doesn’t look like a classical Greek city? No, it looks a million times more exciting than that. Marble colonnades and hypostyle halls evoke the slap of sandals on a sound stage, the unconvincing clash of prop swords wielded by bad actors. Whereas Mattia's cover looks like the set of an MCU blockbuster. That could be Ronan the Accuser in front of the core of the Supreme Intelligence. It’s an image that promises nonstop excitement.
And it’s absolutely right that the fifth book should upend expectations. The Vulcanverse isn’t the world of Greek myth. It’s a Matrix-style virtual universe created by the god Vulcan (well, Hephaistos) using his hyper-accelerated development of today’s information technology. Go behind the curtain and you won’t find oxen turning wheels and steam-powered colossi from the old legends – you will find something startling and amazing and all-new. Something that coruscates with Kirby krackle, that whips the rug out from under you, that takes your breath away and blows your mind for good measure. This is not some lame old 1980s stop-motion movie with a bleeping owl. It’s the American Gods or Anansi Boys of Greek myth, the reboot that brings it up to date at warp speed. And that’s why Mattia’s cover is so perfect. It says: this is not your father's Greek mythology.
While we’re talking about the Vulcanverse books, eagle-eyed gamer Teófilo Hurtardo has pointed out some sloppy syntax in the second one, The Hammer of the Sun. If you get yourself killed, your god arranges to resurrect you and the text says:
‘If you were wounded, untick that box on your Adventure Sheet, but add 1 to your total scars because none returns from the land of death without being marked.’
So what it should say is:
‘Add 1 to your total scars and, if you were wounded, untick that box on your Adventure Sheet.’
'Despite my title, there is one wolf I do not rule...' leading into telling you about Wolfshadow and, 'Hey, take one of these arrows of Artemis to King Midas's tomb in Hades to maybe get gold-plated so you can kill that nasty thing why don't you? Oh, and don't forget to fetch along an actual bow, either.'
Also at Blackwell's UK: