Lion’s Legacy

Union Square & Co. May 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781454948056.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Tennessee Russo has been estranged from his reality TV star father, a famous archeologist and treasure hunter, ever since they fought over what should be done with the (occasionally magical) artifacts they recovered. His dad thinks the rich have better resources to preserve them—in addition to landing him a nice payday—while Tennessee thinks they should remain with their country of origin. After two years of radio silence, his dad comes back with a new hunt, and he wants Tennessee’s help to find the magic rings that belonged to an elite army of gay Greek soldiers in the fourth century: the Sacred Band of Thebes. Ten wants to ensure his father doesn’t sell off this vital piece of queer history to the highest bidder, while his father’s business partner has plans of their own. The logistics that go into filming a reality show—which involve removing all references to magic for believability—put a fun twist on the Indiana Jones vibes as Ten’s group begins to explore. Rosen has balanced a thrilling adventure with a flirtatious queer romance, while highlighting moments from history most won’t learn about in school and discussing what responsible archeology entails. While the magic rings are not real, the Sacred Band of Thebes was, and readers who enjoy Greek mythology and history will be riveted by this adventure. Tennessee is white and Jewish; there is racial diversity throughout the cast.
VERDICT A page-turning action-adventure that highlights the importance of reclaiming queer history and culture. Recommended for general purchase.

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