A Song of War: A Novel of Troy
by Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Stephanie Thornton, SJA Turney, and Russell Whitfield
Foreward by Glyn Iliffe
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Knight Media, LLC
eBook & Paperback; 483 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Ancient History, Anthology
Troy: city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky, a city destined to last a thousand years. But the Fates have other plans—the Fates, and a woman named Helen. In the shadow of Troy’s gates, all must be reborn in the greatest war of the ancient world: slaves and queens, heroes and cowards, seers and kings . . . and these are their stories.
A young princess and an embittered prince join forces to prevent a fatal elopement.
A tormented seeress challenges the gods themselves to save her city from the impending disaster.
A tragedy-haunted king battles private demons and envious rivals as the siege grinds on.
A captured slave girl seizes the reins of her future as two mighty heroes meet in an epic duel.
A grizzled archer and a desperate Amazon risk their lives to avenge their dead.
A trickster conceives the greatest trick of all.
A goddess’ son battles to save the spirit of Troy even as the walls are breached in fire and blood.
Seven authors bring to life the epic tale of the Trojan War: its heroes, its villains, its survivors, its dead. Who will lie forgotten in the embers, and who will rise to shape the bloody dawn of a new age?
About the Authors
CHRISTIAN CAMERON was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1962. He grew up in Rockport, Massachusetts, Iowa City, Iowa,Christian Cameron and Rochester, New York, where he attended McQuaid Jesuit High School and later graduated from the University of Rochester with a degree in history.
After the longest undergraduate degree on record (1980-87), he joined the United States Navy, where he served as an intelligence officer and as a backseater in S-3 Vikings in the First Gulf War, in Somalia, and elsewhere. After a dozen years of service, he became a full time writer in 2000. He lives in Toronto (that’s Ontario, in Canada) with his wife Sarah and their daughter Beatrice, currently age four. And a half.
LIBBIE HAWKER was born in Rexburg, Idaho and divided her childhood between Eastern Idaho’s rural environs and the greater Seattle area. She presently lives in Seattle, but has also been a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah; Bellingham, Washington; and Tacoma, Washington. She loves to write about character and place, and is inspired by the bleak natural beauty of the Rocky Mountain region and by the fascinating history of the Puget Sound.
After three years of trying to break into the publishing industry with her various books under two different pen names, Libbie finally turned her back on the mainstream publishing industry and embraced independent publishing. She now writes her self-published fiction full-time, and enjoys the fact that the writing career she always dreamed of having is fully under her own control.
KATE QUINN is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple languages.
Kate has succumbed to the blogging bug, and keeps a blog filled with trivia, pet peeves, and interesting facts about historical fiction. She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia, and her interests include opera, action movies, cooking, and the Boston Red Sox.
VICKY ALVEAR SHECTER is the author of the young adult novel, Cleopatra’s Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2011), based on the life of Cleopatra’s only daughter. She is also the author of two award-winning biographies for kids on Alexander the Great and Cleopatra. She is a docent at the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Antiquities at Emory University in Atlanta. The LA Times calls Cleopatra’s Moon, “magical” and “impressive.” Publisher’s Weekly said it was “fascinating” and “highly memorable.” The Wall Street Journal called it “absorbing.”
STEPHANIE THORNTON is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.
Her novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora, Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, and The Conqueror’s Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great, tell the stories of history’s forgotten women.
SJA TURNEY lives with his wife, son and daughter, and two (close approximations of) dogs in rural North Yorkshire.
Marius’ Mules was his first full length novel. Being a fan of Roman history, SJA decided to combine his love of writing and love of the classical world. Marius’ Mules was followed two years later by Interregnum – an attempt to create a new fantasy story still with a heavy flavour of Rome.
These have been followed by numerous sequels, with three books in the fantasy ‘Tales of the Empire’ series and five in the bestselling ‘Marius’ Mules’ one. 2013 has seen the first book in a 15th century trilogy – ‘The Thief’s Tale’ – and will also witness several side projects seeing the light of day.
RUSSELL WHITFIELD was born in Shepherds Bush in 1971. An only child, he was raised in Hounslow, West London, but has since escaped to Ham in Surrey.
Gladiatrix was Russ’s first novel, published in 2008 by Myrmidon Books. The sequel, Roma Victrix, continues the adventures Lysandra, the Spartan gladiatrix, and a third book, Imperatrix, sees Lysandra stepping out of the arena and onto the field of battle.
THE FIRST SONG
by Kate Quinn
Ah, might the gods make you the prize in a mighty contest,
and let the victor have you for his couch!
Ovid, the Heroides
Shall I sing to you of Troy?
Shining Troy, windy Troy, many-towered Troy. The city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky. Aphrodite’s sweet breath kissed every breeze that wafted over our gates; Apollo and Poseidon raised our mighty walls; we were ruled by a white-haired king wise as Athena, and defended by the mightiest heroes ever to stride the earth.
That is the story you want—but I am not the singer for that song. I am no hero, and I did not call Troy home, though it was the place of my birth. I hated its every brick and banner. Watching those fabled towers fade beyond the horizon of the sea, as sails bellied and oars splashed, I made a vow.
I will return only to leave again. That I swore as the seabirds cried overhead. One last task in the service of my father, the king, and then I was done. I would return only for my sister, my dark and shadow-haunted twin, and then the two of us would be gone from Troy forever.
That I swore. But instead there would be war, because the gods had other plans.
The gods and a woman named Helen.
My moods could be as dark as my skin at times—those moods were a curse all Priam’s sons shared, except perhaps Paris, who was made of bright copper and sunshine—but I loved the sea, and a voyage in the height of summer lifted even a somber soul like mine. With every oar-stroke that pulled our ships away from Troy, my heart lightened. The winds came soft and sweet from the west, blowing us toward Sparta, and I rode the deck easily, savoring the salt wind and the sunshine. I could see my brothers doing the same on their respective ships, Paris, ever more burnished by the sun, and Hector, prowling the deck like a great dark-maned lion. Three princes riding three ships with painted eyes and hulls full of treasure: the song at least had a proper beginning.
“Sparta,” Paris mused when we disembarked at the port in Gythio. “Is that the city where the women cut off a breast and grow beards like men?” He grinned. “Sounds like an adventure.”
“I doubt you’ll see any bearded women here,” Hector rumbled.
“At least one single-breasted woman, then?” Paris pleaded. “Just one? You promised me excitement, and royal weddings are so damnably dull!”
“I did not promise you excitement,” Hector reproved, but he was grinning, and so was I. Paris’ charm was like ambrosia, heady and irresistible, and his never-ending ripple of jokes was a natural antidote to any dark mood. Even mine and Hector’s.
“Sparta is the city where kingship comes from queens,” a lighter voice laughed behind me. “Menelaus is king, but it comes through his wife. Someone will have to explain how that works, if only so I can tell Priam and see him harrumph.” Andromache stepped to her husband’s side, small and bird-boned and barely up to Hector’s vast shoulder. She was dusted all over in freckles like powdered gold, and her sand-colored hair flew everywhere in cheerful disarray. Cheerful disarray was my sister-in-law’s usual state, paired with the infectious grin of a happy urchin. Hector, I knew, found it charming. His mother did not. Perhaps that was the reason for Andromache’s greater than usual smile as she shook out her salt-streaked skirts without hearing a pained reproof of You do not look very queenly, dear. “I don’t care if the Spartan queen has a beard as long as she offers me a bath.”
“They’ve heard of baths, haven’t they?” Paris grimaced comically. “Dear gods, what have we let ourselves in for?”
Hector gave a laughing warning of “Behave!” and we were off: a rolling array of chariots assembled from the bellies of our ships, followed by a string of donkeys laden with Trojan treasure: gifts for King Menelaus, our host in Sparta, and for the lavish wedding he was hosting for a royal cousin.
“What king is this girl marrying again?” Paris wondered when we halted to water the horses. “King of Ithaca? Who ever heard of Ithaca anyway? Any man with an island of three sand dunes and a few stingrays can call himself a king in these parts.”
It was true—none of these little kings in the west could compare with Priam, our father, who considered them no better than pirates. He believed in reminding them of his greatness with lavish gifts at royal weddings, proving just how much gold he could afford to toss away to the pirate rulers of sand dunes and stingrays.
“Aphrodite’s tits,” Paris exclaimed when at last we reined up before the palace of Menelaus. “Hector, you wouldn’t lodge your horses in that shed. Of course, you’d take one look at the palace at Olympus and decide it wasn’t good enough for your horses . . .”
“He has you there,” I told Hector.
He smiled, then turned serious. “Give Paris a helping hand during our stay if he needs it,” my older brother murmured. “His first diplomatic visit—under all that joking, he’s very anxious to do our father proud.”
“Aren’t we all?” I said lightly. To win and keep Priam’s approval—that was a burden I’d seen stoop the shoulders of all my brothers. All but me, for I’d knew I’d never earn it.
Perhaps Hector guessed my thoughts, for he gave a silent squeeze of my shoulder. It was his way—to give comfort without words, to speak affection in a glance, to show fury in stillness. We think of heroes as loud crashing creatures, their reputations and the clatter of their weapons announcing their presence in every movement, but Hector approached everything from spear practice to common conversation with the same calm, reflective ease. His soul was warm, strong bronze to Paris’ flashy copper and my own humble tin. And over us all, our father with his core of granite.
Only Paris acted unruffled before that stone gaze. He could make an irreverent face, the one he wore now, and even our father would laugh.
Hector handed Andromache down, and we advanced on the palace gates. Sparta was lovely country—rich hills furred with pines, brush rustling thick with boar and deer to be hunted, streams clear and bubbling—but the king’s abode was a poor thing compared to Troy’s massive palace atop the citadel. A double porch opened into a small courtyard, pillars of painted plaster rather than stone rising around us as we awaited our host.
Curious slaves and Spartan guards were already gathering, whispering behind their hands as they stared at the donkeys laden with gifts, at our heavy Hittite-styled chariots, at Andromache, who had tamed her hair if not her freckles and stood in full fringed skirts and gold bracelets. Hector bore the weight of eyes calmly, accustomed to being stared at: twenty-six and standing tall as any god, his shoulders massive under armor that alternated gold and bronze with silver and iron and studded with lapis lazuli. Paris, at nineteen, lounged in his blinding white tunic and up-curled shoes, running a hand through his oiled-back curls and returning the stares just as frankly, dropping his eyelid in a wink if any of the starers was pretty. And I braced myself for gaping of a different kind, for though I was the second of Priam’s sons and born just after Hector, I was the least of them. And the darkest.
My mother was a Nubian, a princess given to Priam as a concubine to seal a truce with her father—she was dark as a night sky, so they said. I had no memory of her. She died birthing my twin sister and me, and we stood out darkly among Priam’s other offspring, much ogled and pointed at. My sister would have garnered stares even had her skin been pale; she had beauty and fire, and to look at her was to see a torch burning to its base. I had nothing special about me; I was merely Hellenus, stockily built, modest in height, and modest in talents, too. I had no beguiling charm like Paris or hero’s strength like Hector, no wily brain like Priam or unearthly beauty like my twin. A lesser prince, an ordinary man—that was me. But my face was dark, and so I was accustomed to pointing fingers and barely concealed whispers everywhere I went in Troy. Does he bleed black? people would mutter, staring curiously. Do you think a sun-born spirit sired that one instead of Priam?
I ignored the whispers, but my sister would whip around and say, “Nothing so gentle as a sun spirit. More like a daemon. Priam is the daemon!” just to see the reactions. I tried to hush her in such moods, for our father’s displeasure was savage, but sometimes she wouldn’t be calmed. She had clung to me weeping when I left her on this voyage, muttering, “Death begets death until only the flies and carrion remain.” I’d held her till she calmed, telling myself that when I returned, I would take her with me away from Troy. From Troy, where the commoners stared at us as though we were curiosities, and our family—apart from Hector and Andromache and a few others—hardly considered us part of the palace at all. We were not housed with them; we did not dine with them; our brothers and sisters mostly ignored us. Priam only addressed my sister to harangue her, and he never summoned me unless there was some duty or service he thought I should be grateful to perform—like making up a third envoy to this Spartan wedding. No, few in Troy would miss my sister and me if we were to leave.
Only where would we go? To build any kind of home, I would need a king willing to shelter a pair of Trojan castoffs, and I knew of none who would risk offering a welcoming hand to mine for fear it would displease my father. Though I did notice, standing in the Spartan courtyard, that though my face attracted glances, I was not receiving the kind of open stares that were my lot in Troy.
There was a ripple then, and the doors of the anteroom parted. Our hosts appeared, the king and queen of Sparta, and I thrust aside my musings to examine them. Menelaus proved to be a short and stolidly built man with a crown of red hair that clashed against his purple robe, and a wide, perspiring face. His spear-slim queen towered over him by a head, towered over every man in that courtyard save Paris and Hector. I tilted my head to meet her eyes, Argive Helen, swan-born Helen.
And the gods began to scheme.
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A Song of War