A Game of Retribution by Scarlett St. Clair is A Touch of Ruin from Hade’s POV. While the two books occur at the same time with many of the same scenes, there are a lot of new things. Scenes are expanded upon or shown completely differently. As Hades picks up on things that Persephone doesn’t, and some additional ones that don’t make appearances at all in A Touch of Ruin. So, even though they are essentially the same book, they are different enough that you could enjoy both. Plus, the plot regarding what they do apart is different, which makes A Game of Retribution a good read.
Hades, God of the Dead, does not take sides or bend the rules. He makes no exceptions to these values—not for god or mortal, even his lover, Persephone, Goddess of Spring.
Usually, fear prevents retaliation.
But not this time.
When Hera, Goddess of Women, approaches Hades with a plan to overthrow Zeus, he declines to offer help. As punishment, Hera sentences Hades to perform a series of labors. Between killing mythical monsters and recovering deadly stolen artifacts, each feat seems more impossible than the last and draws his attention away from Persephone—whose own tragedy has left her questioning whether she can be Queen of the Underworld.
Can Hades maintain the balance he craves?
- Published: May 31, 2022
- Page Count: 468
- Genre: Mythology, Fantasy Romance
Thoughts on A Game of Retribution
Similar to A Touch of Ruin, A Game of Retribution start and ends at the same point in time, but getting to those moments flows differently. Mainly as Hades has to deal with missing divine monsters, trials that Hera requests of him if he wants to marry Persephone, and the escalation of the Triad. All of these things happen without Persephone’s knowledge. While we knew he had been busy with something, we didn’t know what it was. Through his perspective, we get a lot more insight into the events that will play out in A Touch of Malice. From Persephone’s POV, the “big bad” on the horizon was her mother, but it’s not, and Hades’s POV shows that. We get to see the beginning stages of the Triad testing methods in which they can kill the divine, which Zeus does nothing about. We also see Hera outright helping to plot against Zeus with Triad, and why even on an opposing side to Hades that she agrees to bless his marriage with Persephone. She has to or Hades will reveal her treason.
While all of this is happening, Persephone is dealing with her job that wants an exclusive of her relationship with Hades and Lexa’s accident. I had wondered why Hades didn’t do more while reading A Touch of Ruin, and now we know. He literally didn’t see the problem. He knew that Lexa’s soul was merely choosing to die and didn’t want to damage it. Plus, Persephone would see Lexa again in the Underworld so it wasn’t like their friendship was gone. And he handled her dying the same way he handled anyone else dying. He does acknowledge later he could’ve shown Persephone more to make her understand why he wouldn’t heal Lexa. Not to mention, he could’ve been there rather than what he thought was “honoring Persephone’s remaining time with Lexa” by allowing them privacy. I understand his perspective even more now.
Side Note: I always understood his side and often wondered why Persephone was trying so hard to keep Lexa alive when Persephone literally would just see her again in the Underworld.
Another thing I found interesting was how Hades’s story which is off doing a hundred other things than Persephone’s story was going to link up. Most of the time, Hades is interrupted before his plotline can advance by whatever Persephone is doing. From her article on Apollo, her attempts at bargaining for Lexa’s life with Kal and then Apollo, getting drunk at a club with Apollo, etc. All of those instances forced Hades to stop whatever investigation or interrogation he was doing. The man… god… almost died once and was then forced to deal with Persephone’s melodrama. At times they felt a bit forced to keep the stories connected, but other times it was like “again Persephone, let the man have a break.” And I know that was the effect it was going for. Because Hades always just magically appeared whenever stuff was happening, so seeing him pulled out of his plot into hers made sense. I just kind of thought Hades somehow knew things were happening, but not he was interrupted during something by his spymaster, Ilias.
We also get more information on Zofie, Persephone’s bodyguard. I had thought Hades got her a bodyguard specifically due to instances that happened during A Touch of Ruin. But no. He was rescuing the Amazon from being killed over the fact she slept with someone outside of the mating period, which was punishable by death. It had nothing to do with Persephone, though her protection was something that Hades wanted to ensure. I liked that touch because it was seriously missing from Persephone’s POV. He never brings it up with her. We knew a little about Zofie’s background, but it didn’t have the same impact as seeing Hades rescue her through a bargain with the Amazon queen.
There are some editing errors (grammar mistakes, spelling errors, double words, etc.). It was minor enough that I could overlook it, though it still took me out of the book for a moment each time.
Another thing that annoyed me was that the text was small with massive margins (like three fingers of space at the bottom, two at the top, and two on either side). While I don’t have a problem reading small text, it was something that really annoyed me while reading the physical version of the book. Mostly because there is so much wasted space on the page. If you’re going to print, make sure to make the most out of the real estate available. Or print on a smaller size of paper to avoid wasted space.
Apparently, Amazon confirmed it was a printing error (which is where I pre-ordered the book from), so I’m submitting it to exchange mine. I find it odd this wasn’t caught beforehand in QA, but it only happened with the Amazon paperback editions. Hopefully, the second paperback I get from them for this book doesn’t have the same issue. I really hope they don’t mind that I read quite a bit of the book before I saw that announcement on Scarlett St. Clair’s Instagram.
Overall, I would give A Game of Retribution a 3.5 out of 5-star rating.
I can’t wait to read the last two books in these connected series. There’s A Touch of Chaos, which is book 4 of both series as it’s a shared POV between the two individuals. Though it technically falls into the Persephone side of the series. And then A Game of Gods (Hades Saga Book 3), which is the A Touch of Malice retelling in Hades’s POV and takes place before A Touch of Chaos. Both are expected to come out in 2023. A Game of Gods is coming out in May, while A Touch of Chaos is either in October or November. Or at least that’s what Scarlett St. Clair has posted on her Instagram. There are also going to be two spin-off books from this universe called A Song of Sorrow (Apollo and Hyacinth) and Temptress of Fire & Fury (Aphrodite and Hephaestus).
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