Before she became Queen of the Amazons, young Hippolyta fought to break a goddess’s curse . . .
An ancient prophecy states that any Amazon who bears two sons must kill the second, lest he grow up to destroy all the Amazons. But Queen Otrere can’t bear to sacrifice her baby, so she gives him to her daughter, thirteen-year-old Hippolyta, begging her to take the child to his father, Laomedon, King of Troy. In order to save her baby brother’s life, Hippolyta must find a lost city and lift a goddess’s curse. Along the way, she will need help from an unexpected source: a newly discovered brother. But can Hippolyta bring herself to trust a boy in order to save the Amazons? This ebook features personal histories by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris including rare images from the authors’ personal collections, as well as a timeline of the Heroic Age and a conversation between the two authors about the making of the series.
About the Author
Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.
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Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons
By Jane Yolen, Robert J. Harris
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2002 Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris
All rights reserved.
Hippolyta's eyes were fixed on the bird as it flew over the treetops. Carefully she drew an arrow from the quiver that hung at her hip, but she didn't raise her bow.
"Are you going to shoot?" asked a puzzled voice at her side.
Hippolyta shook her head irritably, jabbing an elbow at her little sister to make her move away.
Antiope took a small step backward. "The bird will be past soon."
"It's a big plump partridge," Hippolyta whispered. "It doesn't fly that fast. Besides, they're usually in pairs. Like Amazons." Antiope giggled.
"Be quiet, little one," Hippolyta said, fitting the arrow into her bowstring. "I'm paired with you today because Mother insisted. So close your mouth and watch. It's the only way you'll learn anything."
There were a few moments of silence. Then Antiope asked again, "Shouldn't you be taking aim?"
Hippolyta lowered the bow and arrow, turned, and glared at her sister. "I was taking aim," she told Antiope. "One must aim with the eye, not the bow." Already she'd decided at the exact point she would fire. She'd fixed upon a spot directly ahead of the bird. But now, with Antiope's interruptions, the bird had disappeared, landing somewhere in the twisty undergrowth.
"Oh." The little girl was clearly disappointed. "It's gone."
"Never mind," Hippolyta began, then stopped speaking as the second bird took to the air.
In one quick movement Hippolyta lifted the bow, hauled back on the string, fired the arrow. The gray-brown bird flew straight into the arrow's path, and the sharpened bronze point thudded into its breast.
"By the moon!" Hippolyta gasped, for a second arrow struck the bird no more than the blink of an eye after the first. It tore through one of the outstretched wings and threw the partridge into a wild spin. The little bird plummeted to earth in a whirl of feathers right into a small copse of trees.
"What happened?" Antiope cried.
"Someone's trying to steal our dinner!" Hippolyta's eyes narrowed angrily. Slinging her bow over her shoulder and snatching up a spear from the ground where she'd jammed it point first, Hippolyta bounded toward the copse.
"Wait for me!" Antiope squealed, running after her sister and waving her own spear, which was so small it was scarcely more than a toy. But then she was only eight years old.
Like the other Amazons, Hippolyta had been trained as a huntress from early childhood, and she knew where to search for the fallen bird. Slinging her bow over her shoulder, she raced through the undergrowth at full speed, heading toward the copse and into a small clearing. She was unpleasantly surprised to see another Amazon there before her, already tying a cord around the dead partridge's neck.
No mistaking that thick tangle of yellow hair tied up in a cluster of tight braids. No mistaking that superior sneer.
"You're too slow, Hippolyta," Molpadia said. "The goddess of the hunt grants no second chances."
Molpadia was not much older than Hippolyta—less than two years—but already she wore the small square ear pendant that showed she'd killed a man in battle. Under her chin was a livid scar, a reminder of how close she'd come to dying in that same battle, when a Lycian charioteer had caught her with a stroke of his spear.
Hippolyta was tired of hearing the story. Molpadia told it at every festival. Still, earning an earbob was no excuse for taking another hunter's prize.
"You know the laws against theft," Hippolyta said, keeping her voice smooth. "It applies just as much here on the hunting grounds as it does back in Themiscyra."
"Can you deny you saw my arrow strike the bird?" Molpadia asked defiantly, lifting her chin so the scar seemed to grin.
"It was my shot that struck first. My shot that hit the breast. My shot that killed it." Hippolyta knew she could play the defiance game as well as the older girl.
"I was here first to claim the prize," Molpadia said.
Hippolyta gripped the spear in both hands, pointing the tip at Molpadia. "Claiming and keeping are two different things."
Molpadia let the partridge drop and raised her own spear. "Your mother maybe one of our queens, Hippolyta, but that gives you no special status."
"I claim none," Hippolyta answered quickly, "only what is mine by right of my own arm."
"Then show me that arm," Molpadia cried, shaking off her bow and tossing aside the quiver.
It was an unmistakable call to duel. Hippolyta likewise took off bow and quiver and dropped her fur cap onto the ground. Then she began a low circle to her left.
Molpadia too began circling, and they each looked for an opening where they could strike.
Just then Antiope darted into the clearing, gasping.
Hippolyta heard her little sister but ignored everything but the older girl and the spear. Never having been in an actual battle, Hippolyta was at a slight disadvantage against Molpadia. But she'd never been wounded, either, and that gave her an edge. "Once slashed, twice shy," the Amazons said. Of course they said it of their enemies, not themselves.
Well, at this moment Molpadia was the enemy. Hippolyta stopped thinking and let the years of training take over.
She noticed a splash of crimson on the tip of Molpadia's spear. The blood of my partridge, she thought. But no, there was too much blood for such a small target.
Almost casually Hippolyta said, "Fighting already today?" She smiled and gestured with her head at the weapon. "They say the ones who fight too often are the ones who die too soon." Her battle teacher, Old Okyale, always said: "Cite laws at the foe, even if you make them up on the spot. It throws the enemy off guard."
Molpadia laughed. "I have the same teacher as you, Hippolyta. You won't catch me that way."
"But your spear is red," Hippolyta said in that same calm tone. "Either you were fighting today or you're careless with your weapons."
This time the insult struck home.
"I was tracking a mountain cat and wounded it."
"You have a habit of wounding," Hippolyta said. "Without killing."
"You will not be so lucky," Molpadia responded, hefting her spear a bit higher.
"Ah, but you know Amazon duels are fought only till first blood is drawn." Hippolyta noticed now that Molpadia led with her left shoulder low. That meant her right would be high and exposed.
"There's no rule about how much blood ..." Molpadia's threat was real. "Remember that while you still have time to concede."
"An Amazon princess does not concede anything," Hippolyta said. She squinted against the sun.
"I knew you'd throw your rank in my face," Molpadia said, leading again with her left shoulder.
Antiope approached them, hands upraised. "Can't you two just share the bird?"
"That would settle nothing." Hippolyta's voice suddenly deepened. "Get out of the way, Antiope." She never took her eyes off her opponent.
At that instant Molpadia made a jab. But ready for it, Hippolyta knocked her point aside with the haft of her own spear. Before there was time for a counterattack, Molpadia jumped back out of range.
Antiope had retreated a few feet, but now she returned, as if to protect her sister. Hippolyta spotted her out of the corner of an eye. "Go! You distract me. Tend my horse, Antiope." She didn't mention that Antiope too might be in danger should the fight get out of hand. She wondered briefly where Molpadia's pair Amazon might be.
Antiope refused to budge. "I'm going to watch," she insisted. "Watch and learn, you said."
Molpadia suddenly attacked again, and the shafts of the two spears cracked against each other several times before the two girls became locked together, neither one giving ground. But Molpadia was older and bigger and stronger, and gradually she forced her spear point down toward Hippolyta's face.
If she bloods me, I will not cry out, Hippolyta told herself. I will not. She could feel the heat of Molpadia's breath on her brow.
All of a sudden Hippolyta shifted her weight, throwing her opponent off-balance. She took a chance and whipped the butt of her spear up to give the older girl a crack on the head.
Molpadia reeled back with a curse, but before Hippolyta could follow up with the spearpoint, Antiope let out a shrill, awful scream.
Hippolyta twisted around and saw a mountain cat emerging from the undergrowth, a great bloody slash on its right flank still oozing blood. Its eyes were fixed on Antiope, and a vicious growl rumbled in its throat.
Antiope didn't shrink before the great cat, but her little spear was shaking in her hands. The animal was bigger than she, and only a few short yards separated them.
Hippolyta realized that the wounded cat must be crazed with pain. It was ready to spring.
As the cat leaped, Hippolyta threw herself forward, knocking Antiope off her feet. Thrusting her spear upward, Hippolyta rammed the point deep into the animal's tawny breast.
Hot blood showered down, nearly blinding her, and instinctively she pushed the spear and cat away, to keep the flailing claws from raking her face.
The cat thudded onto its side, a low growl rattled in its throat, and then it was dead.
Molpadia pointed at a wound in the cat's flank. "I did that."
"Yes, but you didn't finish the job, Molpadia. You were too slow," Hippolyta said, standing. She was amazed that her legs could still hold her, for now that the danger was passed, they were suddenly shaking with terror. She ignored her trembling legs and wrenched the spear from the cat's body.
Taking a deep breath, she hefted the cat onto her shoulders, caring nothing for the blood that trickled down her arm. The golden hide would make a fine tunic or a warm lining for a winter cloak. The cat's teeth she'd turn into a necklace for Antiope, who had stood so bravely, armed only with her little toy spear.
"Keep the bird, Molpadia," Hippolyta said with a grin of triumph. "I have a better prize now." She handed her spear to Antiope. "Here, sister, if you carry this for me, we'll head for home. Two hunters together."
Antiope took the spear, and it was so much larger than her own she had to wrap both arms around it. But she didn't complain. Her grin practically swallowed her face.
Molpadia followed silently behind, the partridge slung over her shoulder.
They were within sight of the tethered mare when another horse came galloping through the trees.
Molpadia had already snatched up her bow and arrow, ready to fire, but the rider was no enemy from Phrygia or Lycia. It was Aella, one of the queen's royal guards.
"Hippolyta, thank the goddess I have found you," Aella called, waving an arm. "You and Antiope must return at once to the palace."
"What is it? What has happened?" Hippolyta cried out.
But message delivered, Aella had already turned and was riding back the way she'd come.
Antiope stood trembling, arms around the spear. "Is Mother all right, Hippolyta? Is—"
Without answering, Hippolyta threw the cat to the ground. She grabbed the spear from her little sister, then dragged her to the horse. Untying the mount, Hippolyta leaped onto its bare back, then leaned down. "To me!" she cried.
Antiope reached up and was yanked onto the horse's back, behind Hippolyta. Fastening her arms around her sister's waist, she nestled her head into the small of Hippolyta's back.
"Ready," she cried.
Then they were off at a gallop toward Themiscyra, the royal capital, as fast as their hardy little mountain pony could go.CHAPTER 2
All Hippolyta could see of Aella was the dust her horse had kicked up speeding back home.
She turned and looked behind her. Almost at the edge of sight were Molpadia and, farther behind her, another figure, presumably the girl Molpadia had been hunting with.
"Will we get there soon? Will Mother be all right? Will ..." Antiope's questions filled Hippolyta's ears.
"I know nothing," Hippolyta called over her shoulder. "No more than you do. Now be quiet."
Soon the gleam of the River Thermodon was visible ahead, like a long, shiny-skinned adder winding its way north to the dark waters of the Euxine Sea.
On the banks of the river stood the capital of Themiscyra, a quiet settlement of wooden lodges, cabins, and storehouses that had the slightly ramshackle air of a temporary encampment. Hippolyta knew that long ago the Amazons, like their Scythian ancestors, had traveled from place to place, living off the land. But finally they had settled here, close to the running waters.
To Hippolyta, however, Themiscyra was home, the only place she wanted to be.
As soon as she and Antiope dismounted and led the pony through the gate of the wooden palisade and past a row of merchants' stalls, she could hear the buzz of voices filling the street. It was not the usual, happy sound of women at work. Hippolyta was sure it was like the sharp pick-buzz of angry insects. She couldn't quite make out what people were saying.
About halfway into the city, they came upon a knot of women debating vigorously and clogging the way.
"Not another?" one gray-haired merchant was saying.
"It's the will of Artemis," answered another.
"What's to be done? What's to be done?" The same question was suddenly in a dozen mouths.
"The queen will know" came the answer from a weaver, her hands full of cloth. "She will do what is right."
"What is right? Or what is best?" That was the merchant.
"I trust the queen," the weaver said again.
Hippolyta pushed them aside. "Let us through."
But when the merchant cried to her, "What says Queen Otrere, princess? What says your mother?" Hippolyta glared at her.
"We know nothing," she answered. "Nor can we find out if you don't let us go to her."
Silently the women made a path for the two girls, and about fifty feet farther in, they reached the courtyard of the royal palace.
Like the other buildings, it was built of wood but reinforced with slate and sandstone. Normally Hippolyta's heart lifted whenever she came home. But this time it was as if a heavy gray mist hung over the turreted roof.
Hippolyta gratefully handed a servant girl the pony's reins, and her weapons as well. Then she and Antiope went over to Aella. "What is it?" Hippolyta asked. "What's happened?"
"Hush," Aella said. "We can't speak of it here. Inside, quickly. But don't run. Walk like princesses. Like Amazons. Heads high. Show no fear. You are daughters of Otrere."
Hippolyta squared her shoulders and saw out of the corner of her eye that her little sister did the same. Then, following Aella, they went into the palace, into a danger they did not yet understand.
The mood inside the palace was subdued, as if everyone was afraid to speak openly. Aella led them straight to the queen's bedchamber. A pair of armed guards, black hair bound up in warrior's knots, flanked the closed door.
"Asteria? Philippis?" Antiope said, but they didn't answer, and that was odd because she was a great favorite with the guards.
"Come," Hippolyta said, taking her by the hand.
Silently the guards opened the doors, and they went in.
Queen Otrere was propped up in her bed. The old priestess Demonassa, who also acted as a midwife, was standing at the bedside in long gray robes that were now stained with birth blood. Seated at the bed foot was Hippolyta's younger sister Melanippe, who was just two years older than little Antiope.
Melanippe looked up and sighed. "Thank the goddess you're here, sisters." She stood and came over to them. "When I sent for Orithya, she refused to come."
"Orithya." Hippolyta spoke her older sister's name as if it burned her mouth. These days Orithya spent more time with the warrior queen Valasca, who commanded the army in times of war, than she did with her own mother. Hippolyta was furious with Orithya. Family should come first.
"That Orithya would not answer your call is no surprise." Hippolyta added, "I no longer consider her a sister. The blood runs thin in her. She belongs to Valasca just as if she came shooting out between that old hawk's legs fully armored."
Antiope spotted her mother and saw what she was holding in her arms—unbound and naked. Rushing forward with a great grin, Antiope cried out, "The baby! She's here at last."
"The baby," Hippolyta said, looking over at the bed. Suddenly she realized what all the people outside had been talking about. The child hadn't been swaddled yet, and even from this far away, she could see it was a boy, the second such her mother had borne. The first had been nine years earlier, right after Melanippe, a year before Antiope.
Excerpted from Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons by Jane Yolen, Robert J. Harris. Copyright © 2002 Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsChapter One: Duel,
Chapter Two: The Queen,
Chapter Three: The Prisoner,
Chapter Four: A Voice in the Night,
Chapter Five: The Sacrifice,
Chapter Six: Fight,
Chapter Seven: Capture,
Chapter Eight: On to Troy,
Chapter Nine: King Laomedon,
Chapter Ten: A Brotherly Visit,
Chapter Eleven: Condemned,
Chapter Twelve: Monster from the Sea,
Chapter Thirteen: Prey,
Chapter Fourteen: Companions,
Chapter Fifteen: The Fire of Combat,
Chapter Sixteen: Themiscyra,
Chapter Seventeen: Themiscyra's Curse,
Chapter Eighteen: The Goddess Speaks,
Chapter Nineteen: An Enemy Soldier,
Chapter Twenty: Kethites,
Chapter Twenty-one: The Stranger,
Chapter Twenty-two: Farther Along the Road,
Chapter Twenty-three: Arimaspa,
Chapter Twenty-four: Winged Vengeance,
Chapter Twenty-five: Judgment,
Chapter Twenty-six: And Home,
What Is True About This Story?,
A Conversation Between the Authors,
A Biography of Jane Yolen,
A Biography of Robert J. Harris,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book!!! I thought is was cool that Hippolyta's father was Ares!!! If you like Greek Mythology you will like this book. I guarantee it!!!
This book was awesome. I loved how Hippolyta was so brave! She got real attached to her half brother without knowing. Anyhow real great book!