4 February 2015

Review #140: Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Don't provoke me - wretched headstrong girl!
Or in my immortal rage I may just toss you over
Hate you as I adore you now - with a vengeance."

                                                                  ----Homer, The Iliad

Judith Starkston, an American historical fiction writer, has spun a gripping tale of Briseis, who was held captive by the half-immortal, Achilles ans she was the very reason of a dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon which is the central plot of Homer's The Iliad, in her new book, Hand of Fire. Although
Judith Starkston has focused her book on Briseis's painful life and also how a woman like Briseis love a half-immortal man like Achilles.

The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god; will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.

The war between Trojans and Greeks rages on, and the all the while Briseis is scared of her fate, since she is betrothed to marry a bad-tempered and violent prince of Lyrnessos, Prince Mynes. Soon after the men of Lyrnessos leaves for the war, the Greeks attack their city and holds Briseis captive. And eventually her fate changes when she falls in love with her captor, Achilles- the half-immortal man. Read the book to unfold the most devastatingly beautiful story of Briseis and Achilles.

Well firstly, I must say, it's a quite powerful novel which holds the power to change your opinion about this woman called Briseis. Moreover, the author have spun this mythological tale quite flawlessly with her crisp prose and expressive words. The narrative style is quite alluring, since we are made to see the story from Briseis's POV, but don't worry, the author gives us enough space to analyze it with our own perspective. Well to be honest, the book opened bit slow and at times the emotional pull was not strong enough to let us see clearly.

It is not hard to portray any mythological character about whom we already know, but this author have crafted out them with ease, depth and compassion thus making them look more beautiful than they were known and making us acquainted in a way like we know our own friends. Yes, I understand, it's hard to contemplate, but this particular author knows how to develop a character with ease with the progress of the plot.

The author have vividly painted that grotesque backdrop of Trojan War fought against the city of Troy by the Greeks, thus giving us feel like we are standing right in between blood and gut. Moreover, what I most admired about this author was her ability to lay out or draw out any picture effortlessly, intricately and strikingly, whether it is Mount Ida or the way courageous Briseis speaks. I said before in my review that this author changes our mindset, well she does changes our perspective about Achilles, from a cruel man to a man with a softness in his heart. And if are a big fan of tales of ancient gods and goddesses, then it will leave you enthralled till the very end.

Verdict: All the historical and mythological story lovers, don't give this book a miss. And the rest, you can read this book to lose yourself in the alluring voice of Briseis.

Synopsis: Thanks to the author, Judith Starkston, for providing me with a copy of her book, in return for an honest review. 
Author Info:
Judith Starkston writes historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire. Her novel, Hand of Fire (Fireship Press September 2014), tells Briseis’s story, the captive woman who sparked the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad. There was more to her than the handful of lines Homer gave her. Imagine a woman who can both challenge and love that most conflicted of heroes, the half-immortal Achilles.
Starkston’s upcoming mystery series features the indomitable Queen Puduhepa of the Hittites. On the first surviving peace treaty in history, Puduhepa pressed her seal next to her foe’s, Rameses II, but she didn’t realize until now that she was a sleuth.  
Starkston is a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) who taught high school English, Latin and humanities. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Arizona with their golden retriever Socrates.
Visit her here

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review of Hand of Fire. I'm glad my novel "enthralled" you!


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