"Shadow of Athena takes us back to Ancient Greece where the lives of men, women and children were ruled by the gods ... with the blind belief in the powers of those gods coming through very clearly and well written."
fictional drama / romance
Based on an ancient legend and a true practice, Shadow of Athena takes us back to Ancient Greece where the lives of men, women and children were ruled by the gods – or at least, by those who served them - with the blind belief in the powers of those gods coming through very clearly and well written.
The city of Lokris is cursed by Athena and is obliged to send two maidens each year to serve the goddess at her temple in Troy. They are to serve for one year before being discharged, but they may not marry or have children for the rest of their lives.
Marpessa is one of the two girls chosen to the dismay of her mother and the annoyance of her father, a vintner, who has promised her hand to a rich and cruel merchant. A slave, Arion, is to travel with them as protection and with a promise of freedom when he returns. A series of events throws them together and, of course, they fall in love. But Arion is determined to fulfil his oath to Marpessa's mother and bring her home safe. The two are innocents and naïve, duped many times as they try to make their way back. Dangers face them on the journey and if or when they do return to Lokris, what fate awaits them there?
There were a couple of quibbles: one was because of formatting and the other confused me. Dealing with the first: every thought by any character is italicised to the point where there is at least one instance on almost every page. Few of these actually needed to be in italics, particularly when certain thoughts or incidents would have been emphasised by italics ... the impact was therefore lost.
The second is that the author's pen name is on the front cover and spine, yet her real name, in the US style of publishing, is printed at the top of every left-hand page. This reviewer wonders what is the point of a pen name if it is not consistently used overall. Was this deliberate or an error missed during editing? Perhaps this was an ARC copy (paperback edition reviewed) and has been rectified before the final print run?* The arrangement is somewhat confusing - it would not hinder the e-version however, as the use of an author's name and book title heading each page is not included - so I'd recommend the e-book for preference.
Putting these two issues aside, this is a neat, if sometimes predictable, tale - but there is nothing wrong with predictable! The writing is solid without being spectacular (there is nothing wrong with that either!) and the author traces the journey of the couple's maturity from vague recognition to true love very well indeed.
All in all, an enjoyable read.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Richard Tearle
paperback edition reviewed
* The publisher has been notified - we believe the error has been rectified
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