A Dance of Pride and Peril by Martin Lake


One of the things that really draws me to historical-fiction is the vast array of times, places and subjects that can be written about.  My first love will always be set in ancient times; be it Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain; etc.  Then there are times and places that haven’t been as prevalent in hist-fic novels; A Dance of Pride and Peril is one of those.  Crete, 4000 years ago, was one of the earliest civilizations to crop up in the ancient world and Martin Lake has given us a wonderful tale about that island, the people and their beliefs.  I first encountered bull leaping/dancing in Mary Renault’s A King Must Die and have periodically wondered why more authors hadn’t given that period a go, as it was certainly a fascinating place.  Mr. Lake gives us the story of a young girl who is sold to a bull leaping school to learn to dance for the audiences who come to see the boys leap over bulls (and we’re not talking ordinary bulls; we’re talking aurochs; fierce, giant, temperamental beasts.  The main character, Talita, is a determined, willful girl and the story of her enslavement and the way she deals with the various problems and situations she finds herself in, is beautifully told.  The author also paints a vivid picture of that ancient civilization and also of Kemet (Egypt), bringing to life a time and place that would eventually be a great contributors to the future of that region.  4 stars