Hand of Fire

Hand of Fire

by Judith Starkston


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Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

"InHand of Fire, Starkston's careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!" -- Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author ofThe World Beneath

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611792959
Publisher: Fireship Press
Publication date: 04/23/2014
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)

About the Author

Judith Starkston is a classicist (Greek and Latin literature and history), having received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her M.A. from Cornell University. She taught high school English, Latin, and humanities for twenty-one years. Judith fell under the spell of Homer’s Iliad as an undergraduate; the ancient poem later became a perennial favorite among her students. Judith Starkston lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and golden retriever, Socrates. She has two grown children. 

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Hand of Fire 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
blonde_betty More than 1 year ago
The challenge to any writer opting to take on an historical topic is getting it right.  The problem is that getting it right varies from reader to reader, time period to time period.  History is an ever changing landscape – ironic I know – and readers often hold their own beliefs and recollections about an event very sacred.  Anything that moves from the remembered past is met with resistance.  This becomes even more difficult when taking the known and creating a work of fiction around detailed events.   In Hand of Fire, her first novel, Starkston brings to life a minor female character, Briseis, from the Iliad and other accounts of the Greek and Trojan Wars.  The advantage to this strategy is that little is known about this woman.  There is no historical record to contradict or follow when telling her story.  Others in the narrative are much more well-known, including Achilles.  In a masterful way, Starkston weaves together the known stories while crafting a detailed narrative about this woman who rates only a mention in the original poems, but caused a significant conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon.  Briseis becomes a voice for all women of that time period as we follow her struggles and victories in the face of overwhelming events.   I admit at times I struggled trying to remember my high school reading of the Illiad and the Odyssey; not to mention my classics and studies of the Greek and Roman gods.  Eventually I gave up and just enjoyed the story and allowed it to carry me forward.  Starkston is a master of language and easily drew me into the world she re-created.  Her detailed research found its way into the story and made the narrative much more rich and layered.  I fell in love with Achilles along with Briseis and mourned those lost in the senseless war between the two great cultures.   A must read for anyone interested in the classics, Greek and Roman mythology, or just a great story.  While the topic is esoteric, the writing is wonderful and the storytelling well worth the investment of time.  I cannot wait to see where this debut author goes from here.
Tinney More than 1 year ago
This book has so many strengths. The Bronze Age setting comes vividly to life as Briseis steps out of the mists of legend, fiercely alive and compelling. And Starkston's complex depiction of the half-divine hero Achilles makes the improbable attraction between the two completely believable. I have the greatest admiration for the depth and breadth of Starkston's research, and enjoyed her very readable Author Notes as well as the additional material on her website. The reader explores Bronze Age Troy and environs with every sense, participating in a fully-realized world that is somehow as familiar as it is exotic. The subsidiary characters are beautifully developed. Two were, I thought, especially vivid: Achilles's beloved friend Patroklos, and Briseis's elderly nurse Eurome. The kindly old nurse can be a stock character when the protagonist is a noblewoman, but Eurome is so much more than that - she is brave, loving, funny, smart, resourceful, and absolutely three-dimensional. As for Patroklos, he is so deftly depicted that it's easy for the reader to see how he gains everyone's affection, from Achilles and Briseis to all the others in the encampment. Starkston writes of the gods as her characters would have known them: real, and powerful, and involved in human affairs. Her depictions of Achilles's fully divine mother are nothing less than eerie. Hand of Fire is a richly satisfying book. I've just ordered some copies for gifts, so I can share it with friends. Highly recommended!
Melinda_H More than 1 year ago
Starkston marries history and mythology with her singular view of the Trojan War from the point of view of a slave conquering the love of Achilles. What a wonderful way to end 2014 with Judith Starkston’s Hand of Fire. A read encompassing stellar writing, compelling characters, and exhaustive research captivating your attention from beginning to end. Starkston scores high with character development. I was taken with Briseis instantly. Her countenance is calming, intelligent, her strength immeasurable. She is the calming balm to sooth Achilles fiery tempestuous demeanor. She is fascinating and I enjoyed her journey from healing priestess, her dreadful marriage to Mynes, and her callous capture by Greeks. Achilles, a man divided by battlefield and his tender soul. A gentle giant, a thinker, a man with a heavy heart full of emotion. I love the build up between these two, sensual and sexy with class. The chemistry radiates off the pages, the characters come alive, their passion held the entire narrative. Starkston presents the Trojan War from an original and imaginative perspective, absolutely enchanting as a slave enveloped in grace captures the love and heart of an epic warrior hero in all of history.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Briseis is a captive princess and a healer during a time of war with Ancient Troy. Her father betroths her to the crown prince known for his penchant for violence and brutality. Through great wit, she manages her new husband, despite receiving a few intermittent beatings at his vicious hands. Miserable, she manages to escape when Greeks raid her city and she is captured by the legendary Achilles. Trapped amid the violent times and her love for Achilles, she must maneuver her way through treachery to find fulfillment and happiness.  The author has vividly recreated ancient Crete, Troy, and Greece through the point of view of a strong, savvy heroine. Well researched, the author enriches the strong plot with vivid details of daily life, the violent military, mysteries of the healing arts, and the politics of the era. This is a true gem for those interested in the historical fiction of antiquity. Nicely written.