The Book Bloggers List
Shadow of Athena
Reviewed by Hastha Chand
January 23, 2020
“As a person who loves to read adventure novels, this one came as an absolute treat. A definite recommendation . . .”
In a cruel, centuries-old tradition, lovely sixteen-year-old Marpessa of Lokris is chosen by lot to serve as a slave for one year in distant Troy, across the Aegean Sea. She can return, but only if she survives. Marpessa leaves behind her devoted mother, and also a ruthless oligarch, Klonios, who vows to have her as his wife upon her return. The young slave Arion is sent to escort the maiden on her treacherous journey. After delivering her safely, he escapes slavery to eke out a living on the Trojan shore, until barbarians raid Troy. Captivated by the girl he remembers from the sea journey, Arion rushes to save her. The two find themselves marooned in a rough, unforgiving land teeming with dangers. Struggling to survive, they yield to forbidden love. Marpessa longs to remain with her beloved, but Arion knows he must give her up. When they lose everything in a deadly flash flood, he must return her safely home, despite the price on his head as a runaway slave and the evil Klonios who lurks in wait. By the time they reach Lokris, Marpessa is with a child. Enraged, Klonios orders their deaths, but Arion will stop at nothing to save Marpessa’s life. Even at the cost of his own.
Historical fiction is one of the genres I recently explored and loved. So when I was approached by the author for a review, I immediately accepted the offer. I haven’t read anything related to Greek mythology or Goddess or the rituals before and out of curiosity to know about the Greek goddess Athena, I did a quick Google search after reading the prologue of this book.
I also read the article slavery in ancient Greek in Wikipedia considering that it’s one of the themes of this book. Athens had the largest slave population, with as many as 80,000 in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, with an average of three or four slaves per household, except in poor families.Wikipedia contributors. (2020, January 21). Slavery in ancient Greece. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:06, January 24, 2020, from Wikipedia
In the book Shadow of Athena, the author had touched upon various themes like War, slavery and forbidden love. Through her vivid description, she had taken us into ancient Greek and its religious beliefs and customs. It was really shocking to know that the ritual mentioned in the book was in fact undergone by Lokrin maidens for hundreds of year. The best part about Historical fiction is though the characters and situations are fictional it reveals the norms, beliefs and people of the past.
I loved the author’s writing style, narrative and the way how each character was presented. Marpessa was one of the strongest female protagonists I had read. Arion was a very protective and caring person. I liked how he always plans things before proceeding to do anything. In the book, atleast he has a practical way of seeing and understanding things rather relating everything with the wrath of the goddess like others did.
The concept of forbidden love couldn’t have been portrayed more beautifully than it was already presented here. A slave who caught between his feelings and his own conscience often reminding him of who he is. The situations Marpessa and Arion entangled in, the hardship they had endured together, the pain and the suffering Arion went through to protect Marpessa and how they stood for each other at the end, everything made me grow fond of this pair.
A girl child was and is seen as an economic burden on the family but that’s not the case with a male child. A son is always seen as an inheritor of a family business and the one who takes care of parents in their old age. That mindset still prevails and the author had very well represented it through Thrasios’s character.
The first 16 chapters and the last 16 chapters were really engrossing but in the middle, the book was a bit monotonous with Arion’s and Marpessa’s daily routine. If there was a part where I felt that it could have been better it was that. The climax was heart-warming and it is all that I hoped for too. As a person who loves to read adventure novels, this one came as an absolute treat. A definite recommendation from my side.