Song of Sacrifice
(Homeric Chronicles #1)
By Janell Rhiannon
Publication date: December 26th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time…
…remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.
As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.
Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.
In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.
Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice…
Replaces Song of Princes as the first book in the Homeric Chronicles.
PALACE OF SPARTA
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE, three princesses
GRAY CLOUDS SWEPT swiftly across the sky, dimming Apollo’s light to a dreary gray. Caster looked into the sky. “We’ve seen more dismal days lately, than all last year combined.”
Pollux shrugged. “The gods are always angry about one thing or another.”Seated on a large boulder, the brothers watched as Helen toddled about in the grass with her nursemaid close behind. Caster crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you believe the rumors are true?”
“Yes. Don’t you think it odd our mother is rarely with her?”
Pollux rubbed the dark stubble on his chin, as he eyed his little golden-haired sister giggling and running about. “She’s well cared for.” How could he explain to his brother that he knew the truth, because he too was fathered by Zeus? The god’s blood coursed colder in his veins, and anytime his eyes met Leda’s the secret passed between them. “Our mother isn’t the warmest woman in our lives.”
Caster laughed. “No, that’s a certainty. But, I know that pretty nursemaid is.”
“You’ve bedded Helen’s nurse?”
“Don’t look so shocked, brother. What’s not to admire?”
“She suckles our little sister.”
“Come now, Pollux, don’t tell me you’ve never bedded a woman with milk in her tits?”
A heavy drop of rain hit Pollux on the forehead. He stood. “Let’s get back to the palace before it rains.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“It wasn’t meant to be.”
Caster signaled to the nursemaid, who smiled coyly back at him. “What do you think will happen to Helen when she comes of age, if she’s truly the daughter of―”
Pollux bristled at the implication. He knew the truth all too well. He knew his truth. He knew silence was the best protection. “Best to keep such thoughts to yourself. Whatever her fate is, it won’t be an easy one.”
HEKTOR SMILED AT his hosts, King Eetion and Queen Mira of Thebe, who’d feasted him for three days straight. Maintaining a strong alliance in the south was of vital importance to Troy, but he tired of the noise and commotion. Hektor’s head ached from too much wine. The king had sent a number of beautiful women to his chamber every evening, yet tonight, he dreaded more of the same, preferring solitude. Nodding to his host, he stood and dismissed himself.
Instead of walking to his chamber, the prince made his way to the gardens. Peace. Near the center, a fountain trickled water over a large basin. He found a nearby stone bench and sat. His back still ached from the long ride south. The sweet tones of flutes and lyres from the great hall carried softly on the night air. Aye, peace at last. A footstep crunched on the gravel behind him. The hairs on Hektor’s neck prickled. Placing his hand on the hilt of his short sword, he said calmly over his shoulder, “Approach and show yourself.”
“Apologies, my lord, I thought I was alone.”
Hektor turned where he sat. “What are you doing by yourself, here in the dark?”
The woman stepped from the shadows into the light of the stars. She wore a purple himation wrapped closely about her body and her dark hair spilled over her shoulders. “I could ask the same of you, stranger.”
“I’m a guest of the king.”
“The king is kind. He turns away no beggars.”
Hektor bristled. “I’m no beggar, my lady.”
The woman took a tentative step forward. “No. I can see now that you’re not.”
“I’m Prince Hektor.”
“Shouldn’t you be in the hall? Isn’t the feast in your honor?”
“It is. Feasts are tiresome. I’d much rather be with horses or training. But, come. Sit. Speak with me. Tell me your name.”
She approached, uncertain. “Horses are magnificent creatures.”
The prince looked more closely at her. “Yes, they are.” She was ordinary compared to Briseis, but there was something about her. Her eyes spoke to him. Her voice music in his ear. “Forgive me for speaking plainly, my lady, but I find I can’t take my eyes from you.”
The woman hugged her himation closer. The light in her face dimmed. “I’m no great beauty, my lord. It’s unkind to mock me.”
Hektor shook his head. “I speak in all sincerity, my lady. You captivate me. I beg of you, tell me your name.”
Tilting her chin up, she revealed, “I’m Andromache, daughter of King Eetion.”
Hektor stood; horrified that he’d been so bold. “Forgive me, Princess.”
“There’s nothing to forgive, my lord.” Andromache turned to leave.
“Don’t go, Andromache. Stay and speak with me. The night is yet young.”
Andromache glanced at her feet. “My father wouldn’t approve of such a meeting with a man betrothed to someone else.”“I give you my word, my intentions are virtuous.”
“Is that not what all men say?” She smiled shyly. “Goodnight, Hektor, Prince of Troy. Breaker of Horses.”
Hektor watched the Theban princess fade into the darkness. His heart was still pounding against his chest. He knew in that moment what he must do. As soon as Apollo’s light broke a new morning, Hektor sped on Ares for Troy. He took no proper leave of King Eetion, as his mind was bent on convincing his father to break the betrothal contract with King Briseus. For if he could not, Hektor knew he’d be a miserable man the rest of his life.
BRISEIS PICKED AT her fingers, waiting for her betrothed to enter the great hall. Why is he here? Will he take me away, before my time? She dreaded marriage almost as much as she dreaded the blood that would finally make her a woman. The heavy doors across the hall scrapped open and the Prince of Troy entered with an entourage carrying wooden chests and baskets brimming with fine linens. Briseis’ stomach churned in fear.
Hektor approached the royal family, bowing deeply at the waist. He waited.
King Briseus signaled the prince to look up. “We’re happy to receive you, Prince Hektor. Although, we’re a bit surprised at your timing.”
“My apologies for not sending word, but what I wish to discuss should be done face-to-face.”
Queen Shavash nudged Briseis, who stood rigid and silent at her elbow.
“Greetings, Hektor,” Briseis said softly.
Hektor bowed deeply to the young girl. “Princess.”
Briseis looked up hearing her name, finding a pair of warm brown eyes gazing at her. A smile escaped her lips, which she immediately reined in. How did he get to be so handsome? Now, her stomach fluttered. Has a year flown by so quickly to change everything? How did I think he was hairy and disgusting?
King Briseus rose from his chair. “Come, let us walk. Bring the wine.”
As Briseis watched her father and betrothed leave the hall with a gaggle of servants behind them, she glanced at her mother. “Why do you look so worried, Mother?”
“A prince doesn’t arrive unannounced and bearing gifts, when the tidings are good.”
In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.
The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.
She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.
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