At the beginning of this book, a group of soldiers under the evil king Acrisius of Argos is tossing his daughter Danae and her baby son Perseus into the sea in a wooden chest. Poseidon, in the form of a seagull, flies to Mount Olympus for a meeting of the gods. Zeus is furious; the boy is his, but it disobeys the laws even he must obey for someone to kill family like that. He has Poseidon send the Kraken, the last of the monstrous Titans, to destroy all Argos.
Perseus grows up happily on the island of Seriphos; but the goddess Thetis''s mortal son, Calibos, has sinned beyond even Zeus''s tolerance level, and Calibos is made to look as he is inside himself -- and he is hideous. He was to marry Andromeda, the princess of Joppa, but Zeus says now, only if she consents. Thetis, to get even, moves the figure of Perseus to Joppa, far from his idyllic island home. (The gods have a great figure of the world and of people who matter to the world and the future, whom they can move and manipulate, crush, elevate or transform -- though ultimately only within the limits of the divine Law and Fate.) Zeus finds out and furiously demands that Athene, Aphrodite and Hera provide Perseus with proper helmet, sword and shield. In Joppa''s deserted amphitheater outside of town, Perseus meets with an old actor, Ammon, and they become fast friends. When Perseus receives the divine gifts, he runs off by himself to Joppa and learns of the curse on Andromeda. Any suitor who fails the test must be burned alive at the stake in the square. He sneaks up and sees her, and vows to set her free of the evil curse -- he falls hopelessly in love. A great vulture comes carrying a golden cage and Andromeda''s astral double goes into it and is carried away. Ammon tells him it is certainly Calibos''s work. They set out to capture Pegasus, the flying horse, and do. Then Perseus sets out for the the swamp where Calibos lives. He hears the next riddle her suitor must answer to avoid the death at the stake, fights with Calibos (cutting off his hand) and returns to Joppa to answer the riddle and set her free. As they are about to marry, her mother Cassiopeia, says that Andromeda is even more beautiful than the goddess Thetis. The goddess is furious; her statue breaks apart adn she condemns Andromeda to be sacrificed to the Kraken or her whole city will be destroyed by this terrible creature. Perseus must then begin the journey that will lead him to conquer even the great Titan -- Kraken, whom not even the gods could destroy up to this point, but only Zeus and Poseidon had even the power to control and imprison. Perseus must go to the three weird sisters, who are perfect prophets (and cannibals), who tell him of Medusa. He must go to the Isle of the Dead, where, between Life and Death, he must conquer Medusa, the snake-headed lady whose visage turns men to stone. He has to conquer and kill Calibos, have his faithful mechanical owl set Pegasus free (Calibos had captured and imprisoned him, hoping to use him as bait to get to Perseus, if all else failed), and return in time to turn the Kraken forever to stone, putting away from mankind one of its greatest fears, and winning his beloved bride, Andromeda. He does, and they are honored forever in the names and shapes of the starry constellations.
This is a beautiful, exciting retelling of this ancient tale. It is worth reading and rereading. The author is a great teller of tales, and makes the human element, and the humanity in and of the story, real for the reader. It is mythos from the inside out, not just the bare story as told and told again through time. It the book form of a movie by the same name.