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Update on Publication of SHADOW OF ATHENA

The publication date of Shadow of Athena has been postponed to an undetermined date in 2016, most likely in the fall. This is because Knox Robinson Publishing has changed distributors. I’ve been assured that books due out in 2015 will be given priority in the new year. I will post the date of publication as soon as I learn when it will be.

When this change came about, I had already been given a cover design. I’m pleased and excited by the cover art for Shadow of Athena. Here it is:

shadow of athena

Title Change: ANCIENT WRATH Is Now SHADOW OF ATHENA

After a lot of consideration, I have changed the title of Ancient Wrath to Shadow of Athena. It was suggested to me that “Ancient Wrath” sounds as if it is about warriors and wars. Also, the “ancient” was confusing. Did it refer to a wrath that was ancient to our hero and heroine? Or did it just indicate that the story took place in ancient times? So “Shadow of Athena” is a better fit. The word “shadow” is mysterious and can suggest either threat or protection, both of which are applicable to Athena in our story. Look for more forthcoming posts about SHADOW OF ATHENA, to be published on November 24, 2015.

A Map for ANCIENT WRATH: The Ancient Aegean World circa 700 B.C.

AncientGreece scaled down2
Graphic artist Carol Collier produced this map of the Aegean circa 700. B.C., to accompany ANCIENT WRATH when it is published, so that readers can trace Marpessa and Arion’s journeys through the world of Archaic Greece. Click on the map to enlarge it.

The publication of ANCIENT WRATH is set for November 24, 2015.

ANCIENT WRATH Accepted for Publication

After years of unsuccessfully seeking an agent for ANCIENT WRATH, I decided to try my luck by going directly to small, independent publishers. The first one I tried was Knox Robinson Publishing, which specializes in, among other things, historical novels, historical romance, and fantasies. They asked for my complete manuscript, and in short order offered me a contract. This is the dream of a lifetime, and, needless to say, I’m thrilled! I’m excited to have found Knox Robinson and impressed with the high quality of the books they publish.

I still don’t have a publication date, but I’m a “featured author” on Knox Robinson’s awesome, newly updated website. Check it out at >http://www.knoxrobinsonpublishing.com/

About the Phoenicians

Phoenician Merchant Ship
Phoenician Merchant Ship

ABOUT THE PHOENICIANS IN SHADOW OF ATHENA

I’ve always been intrigued by the Phoenicians, and as soon as the plot for Shadow of Athena began to take form, I knew that my young hero and heroine would have an encounter with this culture, and part of their journey would take place on a Phoenician ship. After all, the Phoenicians sailed all over the Aegean. How could Arion and Marpessa not run into them?

How would they communicate? Phoenician was a Semitic language related to Hebrew—not even close to Greek. And how would the Phoenicians have reacted to two young Greeks adrift in the world trying to make their way home? They would not have been welcoming, of that I was sure. Skilled sailors with superior ships, they would have inevitably safeguarded their navigating secrets from outsiders. Taking on Greek passengers would have been an anomaly for them. At the same time, they were not above making use of two able-bodied young people who could help with the incredibly difficult chores of navigating a huge trading ship across the seas in winter. With these thoughts in mind, I let the story unfold.

Unlike the early Greeks, the Phoenicians were willing to sail at night and even during the season of storms. They could navigate using the North Star. The navigational equipment on board their ships was superior and extremely well organized under the vigilant eye of the captain’s assistant, someone known as the “look-out man,” whose job it was to see that all the equipment was well maintained and well stowed. According to Xenophon, the Greek Ischomachus said, upon seeing a Phoenician ship, “I saw the largest amount of naval tackling separately disposed in the smallest stowage possible. For a ship, as you well know, is brought to anchor, and again got under way, by a vast number of wooden implements and of ropes, and sails the sea by means of a quantity of rigging, and is armed with a number of contrivances against hostile vessels, and carries about with it a large supply of weapons for the crew, and, besides, has all the utensils that a man keeps in his dwelling-house, for each of the messes.”* The look-out man knew precisely where each piece of equipment was and how to reach it even under the harshest conditions and the most violent storms.

The practical Phoenicians did not keep anything extraneous or superfluous on their tightly run ships. In our story, Arion and Marpessa, desperate to reach home, offer their services in exchange for passage aboard a Phoenician ship. The Phoenicians decide to avail themselves of the Greek pair’s skills as their trading ship undertakes a challenging and dangerous journey. But they have lied about the ship’s destination: they are bound for the Black Sea instead of Greece. Marpessa is passing as a boy for her own safety. When the sharp-eyed look-out man is about to penetrate her disguise, Arion, all but chained to his rowing station, cannot protect her. And the two have uncovered too many arcane navigational secrets. What will be their fate once the Phoenicians decide they have outlived their usefulness?

*Phoenicia, Phoenician Ships, Navigation and Commercehttp://phoenicia.org/ships.html#ixzz2qnN7sx12

The Locrian Maidens

THE LOCRIAN MAIDENS

 

When doing research on the Trojan War for my novel, Warrior’s Prize, I came upon an amazing story concerning a unique, bizarre ritual with its roots in legend that was carried out well into historical times. It provided an actual link between the Trojan War and verifiable recorded history. And it was so compelling that I knew at once it was the premise of my next novel—Ancient Wrath.

It began with a sacrilege committed at Troy. Homer tells of two heroes by the name of Ajax. One was a mighty warrior who died before Troy fell. But our story concerns the second Ajax, a lesser man who hailed from Locris in mainland Greece. During the sack of Troy, when the princess Cassandra, sister of Hector, sought refuge in the temple of Athena, this Ajax followed her there, tore her from the sanctuary and, some versions say, raped her. Ajax’s fellow warriors realized immediately that he had committed a great sacrilege. Fearing that the goddess’s wrath would fall on all of them, they tried to stone him to death. Whereupon Ajax saved himself by running back into the temple, clinging to the image of Athena, and vowing to expiate his sin.

But it was not to be. On his journey home his ship was wrecked near the coast of Greece and Ajax was flung into the raging sea. He managed to scramble onto a rock near the shore, where he shouted his defiance of the gods. His hubris had passed all bounds. Poseidon sheared off the section of rock to which he clung, and he fell into the sea and drowned.

Athena, unappeased, sent drought and pestilence to his homeland Locris. When the citizens sought help from the oracle of Delphi, they were told that to propitiate the goddess they must send two maidens to her temple in Troy every year for a thousand years. Thus began the ritual that continued into recorded history.

Every year two maidens were chosen by lot to go to Troy, accompanied on their journey across the sea by two Locrian guides. The ritual decreed that once they reached the Trojan shore, they were fair game to be killed by armed men who lay in wait for them and who were hailed as heroes if they killed one of the maidens. Not until they reached the temple itself were they safe. If a maiden was killed, her body was burned as a defilement on unfruitful wood and thrown into the sea. And a replacement from Locris had to be sent.

The maidens who survived this journey had their heads shorn and went barefoot, clothed in the single garment of a slave. They spent their days in degrading servitude, washing and sweeping the outer temple but not allowed to enter the sanctuary itself. And when their year was finished, they returned home but could not marry and must remain virgins the rest of their lives.

The story of the Locrian maidens was fairly begging to be told. And so my novel Ancient Wrath began to take shape. The maiden Marpessa, a happy young girl who loved all living things and wanted only to live a normal secure life, found her name drawn to become one of the temple slaves. And so began the adventure that would uproot her from her home and endanger her very life.

 

Further reading:

Walter Leaf. A Study in Homeric Geography. MacMillan and Company limited. London,1912. Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing.

James M. Redfield. The Locrian Maidens. Princeton University Press. Princeton, 2003.

Photos by Bruce Precourt. Used with permission.