Reviews: The Thinara King
From Chanticleer Book Reviews:
There’s only sorrow for Aridela, the heiress to the throne of Kapthor when she learns her heart is not hers to give freely and every decision she makes concerning her love life brings about dire consequences for her people in Rebecca Lochlann’s The Thinara King, Book 2 of The Child of the Erinyes series.
When Aridela meets Chrysaleon, a Greek “barbarian” by the standards of her people, she falls in love. Chrysaleon, young, bold and brash, is as smitten with Aridela as she is with him, but he has been promised in marriage to her sister Iphiboë, who is bland and boring by comparison.
The marriage is all important, though, as it will consolidate his father’s power, linking his lineage with that of Aridela’s culture, a culture that reveres the power and station of women. Kapthor is ruled by Aridela’s mother Queen Helice and guided by the powerful female oracle Themiste.
Aridela and Chrysaleon cannot help but consummate their forbidden love, yet as they do, a volcano erupts, devastating the island and killing many of Aridela’s relatives and friends. The volcano, seen as goddess Athene’s handiwork, is blamed on Chrysaleon, who has been identified by Themiste as the “lion” or the Thinara King, foretold in an ancient prophecy linking him to Aridela and a mysterious, unidentified bull figure. The prophecy states that this triad has the power to restore or destroy the world.
Rebecca Lochlann skillfully immerses the reader in a semi-fictional world of ancient rites and conflicts where characters live, die, and are reborn throughout her series The Child of the Erinyes.
The product of many years of study and fascination with the era and the mythology, The Thinara King establishes Lochlann’s connection with the novel’s setting and genre by smoothly combining many convincing elements: the handsome hero determined to win the strong-minded fair lady, the dark anti-hero plotting on the sidelines, the wise demi-goddess who keeps her own counsel and manipulates outcomes behind the scenes, the grisly battles fought at close range, and the spectacular festivals marking the passing of the years.
Lochlann’s over-arching narrative, switching from character to character, is deftly composed, making for many surprises without deviating from the backdrop with its elaborate history-rich trappings.
A tale of ancient kingdoms, of love promised and lost, heralded victory and hopeless defeat is the second novel in her much-acclaimed series, The Child of the Erinyes – another masterfully written historical fiction novel of Ancient Greece from Rebecca Lochlann.
From Booksquawk Book Reviews:
This is the second book in The Child of the Erinyes series, the first of which, The Year God’s Daughter, I reviewed here – and you can see by my enthusiasm I was eagerly awaiting the sequel.
We take up where the first novel left off (and it would be a major spoiler for the first book if I told you exactly where that was), but the brief idyll in princess Aridela’s young life is to be short-lived. With the violent suddenness only a mega-burp in the earth’s crust can dish up, her lush and peaceful home island of Crete is assaulted by a deadly pyroclastic blast from the volcanic island of Callisti, seventy miles away. Aridela and the newly crowned bull-king Chrysaleon barely survive, and to make matters worse, she believes she is the one who caused the devastation by angering the goddess Athene.
Author Lochlann does a fine job describing the destruction: inescapable waves of blistering heat and choking ash; the endless series of earthquakes and resulting tsunamis. The survivors are soon subjected to even more horror at the hands of a vengeful and opportunistic conqueror from the mainland, whose soldiers overrun the embattled island and pillage what little is left of the once proud and mighty civilization.
These are dark days for Aridela – sometimes graphically so; what she endures is not euphemistically portrayed – but deep inside she clings to the hope that she can withstand the abuse and prevail in order to appease Athene and restore freedom to her remaining people. Chrysaleon, too, endures much. On the verge of death, he has visions of an out-of-body journey to the heavenly land of the gods that enlightens him to his new status as The Thinara King – the one man with the power to change the destiny of everyone in the mortal world. But will he choose the right path?
I don’t want to give too much away. Let me just say in closing that this series is my new addiction. Lochlann is a meticulous writer, and I predict that the outpouring of accolades she is already receiving from her readers will eventually give her a well-deserved boost onto the best-seller lists.
From Elisabeth Storrs, author of The Wedding Shroud, and other novels of the ancient world:
A captivating and brutal time brilliantly depicted
The palace of Knossos remains to this day as a masterpiece of ancient architecture. A set of enormous bull’s horns stands at the entrance, a potent reminder of the Minoan society’s belief in power and fertility and the yearly sacrifice of the bull king. In The Thinara King, the second book of The Child of Erinyes series, Lochlann once again plunges the reader into the sights and sounds and smells of Cretan culture. There is little respite from drama in this book. The first scenes rocket you into the cataclysms of earthquake and tsunami as the Immortals rain down their wrath upon the people, destroying cities and crops and visiting death over Princess Aridela’s country.
The wilful, capricious child of The Year God’s Daughter matures in this novel as she grows into a woman faced with tragedy and the responsibility for reconstructing the hopes and fortunes of Kaphtor. Lochlann continues to build the tension in the love triangle of Aridela and the Mycenaen half-brothers who both love her – the flamboyant Chrysaleon and the brooding Menoetius; the lion and the bull who haunt her dreams and fantasies. There is some frustration for the reader, though, in this tug of war for Aridela’s affections. I wanted to know by the end of the book who would fully claim her heart. Luckily there is a third book coming that will, hopefully, resolve this.
The author is to be admired for her commitment to revealing both a captivating and brutal time. She does not spare the reader the realities of life in the ancient world. At times it is gruelling to read about the violence, rapine and cruelty. Yet without such an approach, history becomes sanitised and the tenor of the period diluted. There is skill, too, in her development of the characters whose fates are intertwined and whose lives are constantly threatened by enemies and gods.
Lochlann also helps us travel to a matriarchal society which is menaced by the encroaching assault of a warrior culture from the Greek mainland. And the vision of Themiste, the prophetess, who foresees a world where males subjugate women, is especially poignant given that the reader knows its truth.
The Thinara King is a gripping read from an author whose obvious love for Cretan and Greek history shines through but never dominates the narrative. I was sad to leave ancient Kaphthor and look forward to returning to it In the Moon of Asterion.
A Few Reviews: The Year-god’s Daughter
Judith Starkston, author of Hand of Fire and Priestess of Ishana:
Lochlann takes her reader into the mythic, mystical world of Minoan Crete with vibrancy and power. On the island of Crete, known as Kaphtor, a long line of women rule. Their male consorts “rule” for only a year as the Year-god and then are sacrificed to bring fertility to the land. On the mainland, the Mycenaean kingdoms fight among themselves and look with envy at Crete’s greater power and civilization. Rival kings yearn to overthrow the Cretan queen and win for themselves Crete’s preeminent position in trade and wealth. They also worship a male god and hold in distain the goddess who has guarded Crete for generations beyond memory. Thus Lochlann sets the central conflict in her opening novel of her Child of the Erinyes series, which in its eight books spans 4000 years from the Bronze Age to modern times as it follows the lives of two men and a woman who are reborn seven times through history.
The Year-god’s daughter of the title is Aridela, the youngest daughter of Crete’s queen. She has been sheltered and pampered, and her rebellious streak has been allowed to flourish. Lochlann gives her coming of age story rich depth as Aridela confronts threats and challenges both from within her royal world and from the princes of the mainland who circle around her and her family as they try to deceive, seduce and attack their way into supremacy. Sometimes they become entangled in their own snares as Aridela seduces in return. Aridela has goddess-sent dreams and speaks prophecies that reveal the fate of herself and her culture, but they are hard to interpret and even harder to obey. Two half-brothers from the mainland will influence the course of her life and force her to make lethal choices. As each choice presents unintended consequences, Aridela must grow and adapt to them. Family members both on Crete and the mainland, love each other, but when fate does not dole out the talents and gifts in equal measure, and siblings must watch the least suited child take the place they covet, then deep and impossible jealousies and conflicts wrench apart these families. This mythic world is an ideal place to watch such dramatic family tensions play out.
Lochlann’s rich language draws her reader into the story from the first sentences, invoking all of the senses: “The bull was so much bigger than she expected. His pitiless eyes sucked her breath away. The musky stench of his body obliterated the stands, the screaming audience, even the crushing hammer of heat.”
Lochlann uses precise details in abundance to bring to life long ago Knossos. She puts us inside the palace in a variety of ways, such as revealing what decorated the walls, “Frescoes of flitting swallows, high marsh grasses, monkeys, ibex, lilies, and of course, grazing bulls, surrounded them on all sides. Here were hazy mountains with plumes of smoke at their summits, bees rising from carcasses, and peasants holding offerings. They passed painted seas and leaping fish. Even the ceiling of this fantastic place was part of the nature scene, the colors as fresh and bright as if created that morning.” We see and hear the women of the royal court, “Disks sewn into the women’s skirts chimed as they walked, a soothing sound mostly lost beneath giggling and gossip. . . . The women fluttering around her were curled, oiled, and gilded. Their tight bodices made their breasts protrude like proud trophies.”
The Year-God’s Daughter succeeds in bringing to life a very distant world and capturing a heady blend of archaeology, legend, myth and fantasy.
The Year God’s Daughter is the first in author Rebecca Lochlann’s Child of the Erinyes series. Even without reading the bio on her website, it’s obvious from the first few pages that this is an author who did her research. She spent fifteen years acquainting herself with ancient Greece, and it shows. Authenticity is steeped into each chapter.
If you are not a fan of historical fiction, don’t let that stop you from reading this excellent book. The finely-honed characterization is such that even with a host of unfamiliar names, you will never lose track of who’s who. The narrative never gets boring – the author has produced a fine balance between description and action.
The story opens with the child Aridela, beloved princess on the island of Crete, recklessly attempting to fulfill her dream of becoming a bull dancer – she believes the goddess Athene has made it her destiny to accomplish the daring and difficult feat. Menoetius is a young foreigner, bastard son of the High King of Mycenae, tasked with finding any weakness in Crete’s defenses. They meet under dire circumstances, and thus begins “Glory, passion, treachery and conspiracy on the grandest scale.”
Divine destiny is a deep-seated theme throughout. Constant regional earthquakes are interpreted by the ruling priestesses as omens, and most everything is imbued with celestial meaning. The reader is immersed in a vivid culture of devoted spirituality. Athene must be appeased with violent sacrifice and every year that sacrifice is the queen’s latest consort – a man who bested all other competitors for the honor of living large for a year and then allowing his blood to consecrate Crete’s soil. Crete is a matrilineal society, but male-dominated kingdoms surround them, and contempt for Athene is spreading on the mainland. If the encroaching changes reach as far as Aridela’s peaceful, prosperous island, a long-prophesied catastrophe will befall them all. From the start, we know this story is headed for a spectacular, world-changing ending. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to see how it all plays out…
Rebecca Lochlann has produced a book of uncommon quality. Highly recommended.
At Historical Novel Review:
Set amongst the mystery of the Minoan Labyrinth and the heart-pounding thrill of the bull-dancing ring, The Year-God’s Daughter is the first volume of The Child of the Erinyes, a sweeping epic of a series spanning time from the Bronze Age to the near future.
In Rebecca Lochlann’s first novel, we are introduced to Aridela, a young priestess and princess – and to the mysteries of Athene, the inscrutable goddess whose hand guides Aridela’s fate. Aridela is the youngest daughter of the queen of Kaphtor (Crete). She was born under portentous circumstances and has grown up revered and pampered in her mother’s palace. She is headstrong and strangely wise for her age, seemingly born to rule – yet her meek elder sister Iphiboë is the heir to Kaphtor, and Aridela is pledged to a life of celibacy and service to the goddess Athene.
This novel, being the first in a long series, is largely set-up for events to come; yet The Year-God’s Daughter is packed with plenty of action. As the groundwork is being laid for the rest of the series, the reader follows Aridela through her coming-of-age – and follows, too, the lives of the people she touches, whose fates are altered by contact with this young woman chosen by Athene: Iphiboë, Themiste the high priestess, Selene the foreign warrior-woman, Lycus the bull-dancer, and more fascinating characters are subtly moved like pawns on a game board by Aridela’s unknowing influence.
Most notable on the list of characters entwined with Aridela are Menoetius and Chrysaleon, half-brothers and sons of the king of Mycenae. They are sent on a mission by their power-hungry father to discern Kaphtor’s weaknesses so that Mycenae might take control of the rich island nation. But both brothers soon find themselves in love with Aridela…and at one another’s throats.
The depth of historical information in this novel will delight fans of the genre. A surprising amount of history and archaeology has been slipped unobtrusively into the narrative. Lochlann has clearly done an astounding amount of research into her historical setting and culture, yet she never overwhelms the reader with specifics, nor does she lecture. The conveyance of historical facts and archaeological tidbits feels very natural, woven deftly into the dialogs and thoughts of her intriguing cast of characters.
The primary strength of this book is the writing itself, which I can only describe as sumptuous. Lochlann has a great flair for sensory detail and fills her novel with such a wealth of sights, sounds, smells, and flavors that the reader feels absolutely immersed in the world of ancient Crete from the first page. Reading The Year-God’s Daughter is a delicious experience – seldom have I read a historical novel with such a well-drawn setting, and the fact that this book is independently published makes the feat all the more remarkable. The rare grammatical gaffe occasionally pulled me out of the tale, but never for more than a moment – and while I often found myself wishing I understood some characters’ motives better, I have to assume that, since this is the first in a series with extreme scope, more will be made clear as the series progresses. In any case, the luscious sensory prose was more than enough to keep me reading, and has left me eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Cover copy: Crete: A place of magic, of mystery, where violence and sacrifice meet courage and hope.
Aridela: Wrapped in legend, beloved of the people. An extraordinary woman who dances with bulls.
The north wind brings a swift ship and two brothers who plot Crete’s overthrow. Desire for this woman will propel their long rivalry into hatred so murderous it hurtles all three into an unimaginable future, and sparks the immortal rage of the Erinyes.
A woman of keen instinct and unshakeable loyalty. A proud warrior prince and his wounded half-brother. Glory, passion, treachery and conspiracy on the grandest scale.
What seems the end is only the beginning.
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