Hades' Daughter (Troy Game Series #1)by Sara Douglass
But those puny mortals are not wholly devoid of power and at the core of their fabulous city-states lies the Labyrinth, where they can shape the powers of the heavens to their own design. When Theseus entered the Labyrinth and came away
Ancient Greece: A place where the gods hold mortal life cheap, mere playthings to amuse, delight, and abuse at their will.
But those puny mortals are not wholly devoid of power and at the core of their fabulous city-states lies the Labyrinth, where they can shape the powers of the heavens to their own design. When Theseus entered the Labyrinth and came away with the prize of freedom and his beloved Adrianne, Mistress of the Labyrinth, his future seemed assured....Until he abandoned her for the unforgivable sin of bearing him only a daughter, and the world seemed to change. From that day forward, all the Labyrinths in the ancient world started to decay. It slowly became clear that power was fading from the city-states.
Was it the natural decline that comes to all cultures or was it because the power of the Labyrinth had been corrupted by a woman spurned?
A hundred years passTroy has fallen and the Trojans are a scattered and humbled people. The warrior Brutus is of the line of kings and gods. He wears the golden kingship bands of Troy proudlybut they are his only mementos of a former glory, for he is a man without a country and is left little else but pride and a memory of the latent power that he could wield if but given a chance. When he receives a god-sent vision of a distant shore where he can rebuild the ancient kingdom, he will move heaven and earth to reach his destiny.
Ever eastward he is drawn, to a lovely and mystical green land that offers him a havenand a dream of power and conquest. Nothing will deter him...not even the entreaties of the young princess whom he took as his wife and bedded against her will. First her hatredand now her lovetorment and bind him. She is the only one who realizes the danger he is stepping into, and she will do anything to save him... and his son, whom she carries in her womb.
For in the mists of Albion there lies a woman of powera woman who has used her siren call to cloud Brutus's mind and has her own reasons for luring the warrior to these lush shores....
She is the long-descended granddaughter of Adrianne, and she has in her heart a hatred that has been passed down for generations. Her plans for Brutus will enact a revenge that could destroy the gods themselves.
If Brutus makes the journey successfully, it will be the next step in the Game of the Labyrinth and might start a complicated contest of wills that could span centuries....
Author Biography: Hades' Daughter is the first title in Sara Douglass's compelling new series, The Troy Game, a riveting historical fantasy series of love and revenge and the madness that can ensnare even the most noble soul. Sara Douglass is the author of The Wayfarer Redemption series and is a multiple Aurealis Award winnerand Australia's most successful fantasy author. She resides in Bendigo, Australia.
A soap opera of the ancient world, for good and for bad.
“Ms. Douglass recreates the Aegean world and a Pre-Celtic England in a sweeping epic that grabs your attention at the first page.” Romantic Times Book Club (4 stars)
“A soap opera for the ancient world...” Kirkus Reviews
Read an Excerpt
LONDON, MARCH 1939
Frank Bentley hurried along the railway platform at Waterloo station, scanning the few remaining people standing about. The train from Dover must have come in a half hour ago at least; had he waited? Or grown impatient and decided to seek out a hotel for the night?
He slowed his steps, looking more carefully, wishing he had more than just a casual description to guide him.
His eye suddenly caught sight of a tall man, swathed against the evening chill in a greatcoat over his uniform, the brim of his military cap pulled low over his eyes, the glow of a cigarette in one hand, a suitcase and a bulging satchel huddled by his legs.
It must be him ... there was no one else. Bentley walked up and smiled a little too brightly.
The man flicked his cigarette to the pavement, grinding it out under his shoe. "Yeah." He held out his hand. "Jack Skelton."
Bentley introduced himself, apologizing for his delay, then picked up the suitcase as Skelton took the satchel. "My motor's parked a couple of streets away. Bit of a walk, I'm afraid."
"I'll be glad of the chance to stretch my legs."
Bentley glanced at Skelton surreptitiously as they walked down the platform; his entire department was abuzz with rumors about this man. "Enjoyable sea voyage?"
"It was shorter than some I've taken," Skelton said. He lit another cigarette, holding out the pack to Bentley who shook his head.
"First time in London, is it, sir?"
"You've been here before?"
Skelton smiled wryly at the surprise in Bentley's voice. "It wasn't in my file?"
Bentley flushed. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't mean to pry."
"It was a very long time ago, Bentley."
They were out of Waterloo station now, and Bentley nodded to their left. "The motor's down this way, sir."
But Skelton had stopped, and was looking northwest to where the great dome of St. Paul's rose black against the evening sky.
"Sir?" Bentley said, wondering at the bleak look on the major's face.
Skelton turned away from the cathedral, his features settling back into their previous studied neutrality. "Memories, Bentley. Now, where's this motor of yours?"
BENTLEY DROVE SLOWLY, CAREFULLY, HUNCHED over the steering wheel as if he was shortsighted. "Would you like a tour of the city, sir? It's nice at this time of"
"No." Skelton had huddled down into his seat, his cap even further down over his eyes, the collar of his coat turned up about his neck and cheeks.
Bentley drove a little further in silence before his natural garrulity reasserted itself. "Your quarters won't be ready until tomorrow, sir. You'll be staying with me tonight. Hope you don't mind."
Skelton's head tipped a little in acknowledgment, which could have meant anything.
Bentley shifted in his seat. "Got a nice little place in Highbury with my wife Violet. We've only been married six months. All still a bit of a novelty, sir. Awful lot of fun, though. Are you married?"
"Well, sir, I have to say that I can heartily recommend the institution. And I can't think that a handsome fellow like yourself wouldn't have had an opportunity or two in the past"
"My wife died some time ago, Bentley."
"Oh crikey, sir, I'm sorry. Sometimes I do run on a bit. Get myself into some awful scrapes."
There was another silence which Skelton spent smoking, and Bentley peering anxiously over the steering wheel, searching for something else to say.
"Violet's looking forward to meeting you, sir. She's always dreamed of visiting America. I don't doubt that she'll bombard you with questions."
Skelton shot Bentley a dark look from beneath the rim of his cap.
"Ahem. Well then, sir, if you don't feel like talking, perhaps after supper you'd like to listen to the wireless with us? There's a jolly good show on the BBC at eight. Unless you're tired from all your travelling, sir. I'd quite understand if you want to retire early."
"I think I'll go out for a walk after dinner, Bentley. Renew my acquaintance with the city."
"As you wish, sir."
Bentley finally fell into silence.
MESOPOTAMA, WESTERN GREECE
NINETY-EIGHT YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF TROY
TROY FELL WHEN MY SIXTH FOREFATHER was a youth, and thus consequently I had only ever known Trojans as slaves. A defeated, despondent people who I noticed merely as obedient drudges creeping about my father's palace. I paid them little attention; they were but slaves after all, and moreover, they were the sorry remnants of a people who had caused my fellow Greeks much trouble and sorrow. It was not so much that I despised them, for I did not, it was just that they were a people who had caused their own misfortune and who thus needed to have no sorrow, no pity, and certainly no hatred wasted upon them.
So I paid them no regard. I spoke to them only to speak a request (and even that rarely, for my nurse and companion Tavia was the usual intermediary between my wants and those who lived only to attend to them) and I occasionally nodded absentmindedly at one or another of them if they performed me a particular service. That was the entire limit of my involvement with Trojans. They were constantly about me, but they were all but invisible.
I was Cornelia, only legitimate child of the great Pandrasus, king of Mesopotama. Mesopotama was not a particularly notable city, I grant you, but it was important and rich enough, and was one of the very few survivors of the Catastrophe that had rocked our world for the preceding sixor seven generations. Other cities may have succumbed to conflagration and earth tremors, or to the swords and hate of the tribes who took advantage of the turmoil in the Aegean world to invade, but Mesopotama continued as if charmed, serene and safe on its tranquil bay on the northwestern coast of mainland Greece.
There was only little contact with the outside world, and I existed virtually unaware of even that small degree of contact. There was my father, who adored me, and there were the joys and pleasures of my father's court from which I rarely strayed.
Why should I have? My father's palace contained everything I could have wanted. Everything was mine for the asking: rare fabrics from the far east, the most tempting of morsels from the kitchens, jewels as I wanted for my neck and arms, the admiration and attendance of all who beheld me.
The last began to amuse me more and more, particularly once I passed my fourteenth birthday and became a woman. I was my father's heir, and whoever bedded and wedded me had not only my undoubted physical charms to enthrall him, but the throne as well.
I taunted my male admirers, naturally. When my father held court in his megaron, every man who had a desire for the throne (and that was most of them) allowed his eyes to stray to me. I would smile, and straighten my shoulders, allowing them a full view of my breasts. We followed the old Minoan fashion here in Mesopotama (one of my foremothers much removed had come from Crete, I believe, bringing the fashion with her), and all noble unmarried girls displayed their breasts above their tight-waisted flounced skirts and between the flaring stiffened lapels of their heavily embroidered jackets. I was glad that we still kept to this custom, for it gave me ample opportunity to tease and tantalize, watching all the while the lust for power (and for me, of course!) flare in the eyes of men.
Sorry creatures that they were! I teased and I flaunted, but it was done only for trivial amusement. I had alreadysecretly chosen my husbandmy comely sixteen-year-old cousin Melanthusand in that winter of my fifteenth year I fully intended to drive him to such distraction that he would not hesitate to take my virginity the instant I offered it to him. Then we could use my swelling belly to persuade my father that Melanthus was a good enough catch for me (it was irksome that he was but a third son, for I knew my father would despise that ... but if I was caught with child, then my father would surely be so delighted he would deny me nothing).
My life was full, it was good, it boded nothing but blessings.
That is, it boded nothing but blessings until Hera spoke to me.
Hera, most lovely of goddesses, and queen to Zeus, had been my personal deity ever since I was old enough to choose one. To be sure, the power of the gods was a faint thing (or even a nonexistent thing if I listened to Tavia, who had said that while the gods were now all but dead, many generations ago they had intervened in most aspects of mortal life, and had even the power to stop the sun and raise the seas) but Hera, at least, was a comforting if distant presence in my life. To her I confided all my secrets in the dark womb of the night when Tavia lay snoring at the foot of my bed; to her I recounted all the happinesses and intrigues of my day; to her I prayed, I begged, that Melanthus should be mine, and hopefully without any significant delay.
She did not reply, of course, although occasionally I thought I felt such a soothing presence beside me that I believed her truly with me. She was my friend, and so it was, I presume, that as my friend, and even as weak as she was, Hera made that single stupendous effort to warn me of what approached.
It was a night like any other. Tavia had made sure of my comfort, and had then lain down on her pallet at the foot of my bed.
Snores had soon issued forth from that darkness beyondmy feet. (The snores once had irritated me beyond measure, until I realized that they informed me of when the night was mine to confide either in Hera or in my dreams as intimately as I wanted.)
I lay quietly, a smile on my face, my hands on my breasts as I thought of Melanthus. Taviaand her snoringwould have to find somewhere else to sleep once he was my husband.
At that thought my smile increased, and I wriggled in my bed, a vague, unknowable wanting deep within my body making me restless. I was about to whisper Melanthus' name as a mantra (the more I spoke it, then surely the sooner he would be mine) when suddenly ... suddenly ... I was no longer within my bed, nor even within my home.
Instead I stood on a blasted rock, the sea churning about me, drenching me with its waters. Above me wheeled immense black birds, screaming and shrieking so horribly I put my hands to my ears and cried out in terror.
"Beware!" spoke a voice, and I spun about, almost losing my footing on the treacherous rock.
A woman, wraithlike, so insubstantial the waves cascaded straight through her, stood a pace away at the very edge of the rock.
"Who are you?" I whispered.
The wraith reached out a hand, and as it neared my face her flesh solidified so that warm flesh touched my cheek, and I knew instantly who it was.
"Beloved child," she said. I saw in her newly fleshed face that her lovely eyes were awash with tears. "Beloved child, beware, for you have a great enemy."
I put my hand over hers, and pressed it more deeply against my cheek. "Hera," I whispered, so overcome with her presence I paid virtually no heed to her words. "Hera ..."
"A great enemy. The Horned One. Asterion. He will hunt you down one day, Cornelia. Be prepared."
"Asterion?" The name was vaguely familiar, but I forgot anything I might have known about it as the import of Hera's words finally sank into my consciousness. An enemy, and one who sounded so malevolent? My fear, initially comforted by the goddess' presence, now reasserted itself, and I sobbed.
"The Bull. The Homed One. Keep watch for him, Cornelia. He hunts, and he will hunt you."
"What ... who ... what do you mean?"
Hera's other hand lifted, and for one blessed moment she held my face cradled between her two hands. "You are so beautiful," she whispered, and I wondered that she, the most lovely of goddesses, could say this. "So beautiful, and you must learn also to be strong, and courageous, for nothing else will stop him."
"No. I am dying, and I am among the very last of my kind. I have not much longer before the waves of the Catastrophe engulf me completely. Comelia, listen. The Game has been stolen from us, but it will find you again. When it does, my dear, learn it. Learn the Game, child. Learn the Game. It is all that can save youand through you all of mankindfrom Asterion."
I had no idea what she meant. "Hera"
"You shall meet a distant sister of mine, sad and weary, and damaged by Ariadne's viperish curse as well, but far more cunning than I, and whose well of power has not been destroyed as has ours. She will aid you. She is all that is left, now."
Her hands dropped away from my face, and she stepped back, and her form became insubstantial once more.
"Hera!" I cried, reaching out to her.
"Farewell, beloved," she whispered. "Farewell."
And she was gone.
I WOKE, FULLY CONSCIOUS, INTO THE DARK OF MY bedchamber.
Tavia snored on, unperturbed.
"Asterion?" I whispered. I lay awake a long time, then drowsiness overcame me, and I succumbed to sleep.
I dreamed again, but it was of Melanthus, and its effect was such that when I woke into the bright daylight with Tavia bustling about the chamber, I remembered almost nothing of Hera's visitation.
WITHIN THE MONTH WHAT I WOULD LATER REC-ognize as Ariadne's curse reached out and overwhelmed me, and the Catastrophe finally, calamitously, lay waste to my entire life.
Copyright © 2003 by Sara Douglass Enterprises Pty, Ltd.
Meet the Author
Sara Douglass was born in Penola, a small farming settlement in the south of Australia, in 1957. She spent her early years chasing (and being chased by) sheep and collecting snakes before her parents transported her to the city of Adelaideand the more genteel surroundings of Methodist Ladies College. Having graduated, Sara then became a nurse on her parents' urging (it was both feminine and genteel) and spent seventeen years planning and then effecting her escape.
That escape came in the form of a Ph.D. in early modern English history. Sara and nursing finally parted company after a lengthy time of bare tolerance, and she took up a position as senior lecturer in medieval European history at the Bendigo campus of the Victorian University of La Trobe. Finding the departmental politics of academic life as intolerable as the emotional rigours of nursing, Sara needed to find another escape.
This took the form of one of Sara's childhood loves - books and writing. Spending some years practising writing novels, HarperCollins Australia picked up one of Sara's novels, BattleAxe (published in North America as The Wayfarer Redemption), the first in the Tencendor series, and chose it as the lead book in their new fantasy line with immediate success. Since 1995 Sara has become Australia's leading fantasy author and one of its top novelists. Her books are now sold around the world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This was the second attempt at this book - the first being when I was a teenager and I just couldn't get through it. This time was totally different. A very complex and compelling story taking us back to the days of the ancient Greek gods. With the fall of the ancient Labyrinth, evil is unleashed on the Greek world and civilization quickly crumbles. Far away on the coast of what will one day be England, one small outpost thrives with the Mistress of the Labyrinth as it's leader. Calling out to her partner, the Kingman, she sets in motion a devastating series of events that will either lead the world into the light, or destroy it forever. While at times the complex storyline made the book drag a little - every sentence had a reason for being there, you just might not realize it yet. Definitely not a book for those wanting a quick run through a fantasy land, this book requires a bit of concentration - but it's well worth the effort. About half way through things just started falling into place and I had a hard time putting it down.
The idea behind the 4 book series is extremely original. This first book is kind of a downer when it comes to one of the main characters, but the book is still really good. I recommend reading it, as long as you are going to read all 4 books.
I picked up this book because I had read the WayFarer Redemption series and loved it. The fact that this book centured around a Greek Myth made me even more interested, but once I read the book, I felt rather... Scared? Not scared as you would feel with a horror story, but scared as in 'wow, this might not end up the way I thought'. The book gives the feel that everything will turn out badly, though you must read it to continue with the series and it is well-written.
ive enjoyed everything ive read by her. (threshold wasnt on the same level as her other work though)
Brutus, Cornelia, Genvissa, Loth, Coel, Og, Mag...WOW! They have been chosen to participate in this intricate and glorious dance of intrigue and power and to rebuild the ancient city of Troy and the Labyrinth that lies within, but are drawn into an endless eternity of rebirth and betrayal. Sara Douglass brings together the components of good fantasy and the mythology of the Greeks themselves to create a story worthy of the highest honors! I submit to you a challenge: enter the world of the Labyrinth and see what truly lies at its center...
I initially ordered 12 books online and luckily for me Hades' Daughter was the first one to arrive. As soon as I opened the book I was pulled right into the story. I finished the book a couple of days later and the first thing I did was run to Barnes and Noble, which lucky for me is right down the street from my house, and I bought God's Concubine (which is the sequel)and I am in the process of reading it now. I hope you enjoy the trilogy as much I am!
I'm not usually a fan of fantasy novels, but this one worked for me because it was grounded in ancient Greek culture and the earth religions of prehistoric Britain, where most of the story takes place. Ms. Douglass has crafted a plot involving the highly-prized control of something called The Game, whose purpose is somewhat murky but which involves the labyrinth most often associated with the Theseus legend. The story moves right along and is compelling, though occasionally it descends to bodice-ripper level (including the time-honored Young Attractive Married Couple Who Hate Each Other from the Start, not to mention the Throbbing Body Part here and there). It is hard to like most of the characters - Brutus is an arrogant lunkhead, Cornelia weeps through most of the book, and Genvissa is just plain one mean woman. Some of the minor characters may fare better with most readers. In spite of its shortcomings, this book is a page-turner; I confess to anticipating (with guilty pleasure) Part Two of the trilogy.
Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass is the first of the four book series: The Troy Game. The story takes place in the Late Bronze Age, about 1100 BC. There are quick flashes to 1939 in London, where the Game will come to its conclusion. The main characters in this story are: Genvissa (sixth daughter-heir of Ariadne and the MagaLlan of Llangarlia), Brutus (leader of the Trojans), Membricus (Brutus' former lover and now his adviser), Asterion (the murdered Minotaur, half-brother to Ariadne), Cornelia, (Brutus' wife, and the central character of the entire series), Corineus (Brutus' captain), Coel (a Llangarlian mystic and warrior), Loth (a strange, enigmatic Llangarlian man), Aerne (Gormagog of Llangarlia), and Mag (Mother Goddess of Llangarlia). Having absolutely loved Sara Douglass' previous series, The Wayfarer Redemption, I was excited to start reading this book. Unlike her previous books which were pure fantasy, this book mixes fantasy with historical persons and occurrences. The story revolves around the volatile relationship between Brutus and his sixteen year old wife, Cornelia, and his obsession not only with rebuilding the Trojan Empire in what will become England, but with the black witch Genvissa. Hades' Daughter has a plethora of interesting characters and the storyline is intriguing. Sara Douglass weaves a magical tale of deception, longing, disappointment, and magic that brings this story to life. In the beginning of the story, I had a hard time figuring out who I was supposed to like, in other words, the hero, and who I wasn't supposed to like, the villain. At first I thought Brutus was supposed to be the hero. That didn't last long. Cornelia, on the other hand, was a spoiled princess who soon hated Brutus and everything he does to her. Later in the story, she falls in love with him even though he has spurned her. At this point, I no longer liked the weak-willed Cornelia. So, I was again at a loss of who I was supposed to be cheering for. Maybe all of this will help Cornelia be a stronger person so she can later defeat Genivissa. This was the only issue issue I had with the story. Overall, Hades' Daughter by Sara Douglass is a good read and I found the historical references quite stimulating.
Approximately in 1000 BC, Athens annually sends tributes to Crete to include sacrifices to Asterion the Minotaur. This year¿s tribute includes Thesus, the son of the Athenian King, but he plans to beat the Labyrinth¿s monster. He gains the love of Ariadne, daughter of the Crete monarch and the Mistress of the Labyrinth. She betrays her heritage to abet her lover who defeats Asterion. Later, he deserts his pregnant wife leaving her abandoned on an island to birth a daughter while Thesus takes up with Ariadne¿s sister. Outraged, a proud Ariadne seeks revenge by destroying the fabric of the Game, the divine magic that holds the world together. One hundred years later, Brutus, former ruler of fallen Troy, seeks a different throne. He seemingly triumphs aided by the Goddess Artemis, a survivor of Ariadne¿s opening gamut of a century ago. However, Ariadne, calling herself Genvissa, sees Brutus as a useful lackey because the avaricious brute is too cocky to see beyond his own superego. Through him, she sets in motion act two of her Troy Game vengeance. Though at times wordy and one subplot (occurs in 1939) does not tie back to the ancient theme (clarity in future novels?), readers will appreciate the scope and characterization of the opening saga in Sara Douglass¿ vast historical fantasy. The key two elements to this delightful epic tale are the flawed and contemptible lead characters and the two prime ancient eras vividly alive due to rich texturing interwoven into the plot. Fans will definitely want to read HADES¿ DAUGHTER and the sequels as Ms. Douglass clearly has game. Harriet Klausner