Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling

by Zenobia Neil

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Book Title: Ariadne Unraveled

Author: Zenobia Neil

Publication Date: 7th July 2021

Publisher: Hypatia Books

Page Length: 345 Pages

Genre: Mythic retelling/ Historical Romance

Twitter Handle: @ZenobiaNeil @maryanneyarde

Instagram Handless: @Zenobia.neil @coffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #HistoricalRomance #HistoricalFantasy #AncientGreece #BlogTour #CoffeePotBookClub

Blurb:

Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.

The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.

Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.

From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.

REVIEW

My first encounter with the Theseus/Minotaur/Ariadne/Knossos tale was way back in 1970. I was a Classical Civilization major in college, and the works of Edith Hamilton and Mary Renault were featured readings. In fact, it was The King Must Die by Mary Renault that was partially responsible for my lifelong love affair with the ancient world and the tales of it. In Ariadne Unraveled, the author has taken the myth of the Minotaur to a new level with the Dionysian part of the tale. As she explains in her notes, there is a lot of contradictory/confusing aspects to the myth, so the creation of this story is a fine example of taking advantage of those aspects and reworking them into a believable tale. I especially loved the capriciousness of the Olympians; Artemis, for example, her hatred of Dionysus; the lack of any kind of compassion for her priestess Ariadne… Yet despite the Olympian disdain for this upstart god, the love between Dionysus and Ariadne ( a highlight of the book) continues to thrive, even in Hades. Another aspect that I found interesting is the rather negative portrayal of Theseus….he’s not the same heroic figure from The King Must Die…in fact he’s a bit of a rogue – a nice alternate view of the upstart Athenian. So, my fellow readers, get ready for an enjoyably, imaginative tale. 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. Visit her at ZenobiaNeil.com

Social Media Links:

Website: www.zenobianeil.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZenobiaNeil

Facebook: www.facebook.com/zenobianeilauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zenobia.neil/?hl=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zenobianeil 

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/zenobia-neil

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Zenobia-Neil/e/B01KY86Q46

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15661007.Zenobia_Neil

Legend

(The Drenai Saga #1)

by David Gemmell

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He is DRUSS the Legend. His skill in battle has earned him a fearsome reputation throughout the world and the stories of his life are told everywhere. But the grizzled veteran has spurned a life of fame and fortune and has retreated to the solitude of his mountain lair to await his old enemy, Death.

Meanwhile, barbarian hordes of the Nadir are on the march, conquering all before them. All that stands before them and victory is the legendary six-walled fortress of the Drenai empire, Dros Delnoch. If the fortress falls, so do the Drenai. Druss reluctantly agrees to come out of retirement. But can even Druss live up to his own legends?

Held by many to be Gemmell’s most iconic work, the book is considered a classic in the heroic fantasy genre.

REVIEW

One must use caution when reviewing a book that is deemed to be a classic. What if the book doesn’t instill a 5 star fervor in the reader/reviewer? Would the reviewer then be seen as a boat rocking heathen; shunned, ostracized, mocked, and ridiculed? These thoughts were in my mind as I picked up Legend to begin reading it. It had been recommended to me by a few people, and I was familiar with the author’s Troy trilogy having read that many, many years ago, so I decided to ignore the doubts and plunged into this ‘classic’.

Let’s examine the items I feel should be evident in a ‘classic’

Entertaining – oh my, yes

Characters – so real that they leap off the page

Story/plot(s) – full of surprises…full of engaging dialogue…full of introspection…

I reckon, based on the evidence, that I’m in no danger of the mocking ridicule. 😁

It is indeed a ‘classic’. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

She Sees Ghosts: The Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls

by David Fitz-Gerald

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#SheSeesGhosts #DavidFitzGerald #HFVBTBlogTours
Twitter tags: @AuthorDAVIDFG @hfvbt  
Facebook tags: @AuthorDaveFITZGERALD @hfvbt 
Instagram tags: @authordavidfitzgerald @hfvbt

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A blazing fire killed her family and devoured her home. A vengeful demon haunted her. Ghosts of the Revolutionary War needed help that only she could provide. A young woman languished, desperate to survive, and teetered on the edge of sanity.

Mehitable grew up in a freshly tamed town, carved from the primeval forest. Family, friends, and working at the mercantile filled her days and warmed her heart. For Mehitable, life was simple and safe, until tragedy struck. When her family perished in their burning home, she retreated into a world of her own making.

As a young girl, she had seen glimmers, glimpses, and flickers of the spirit world. She closed her eyes. She turned her back. She ignored the apparitions that she never spoke of, desperately hoping they would leave her in peace. She was mistaken.

Grief-stricken, Mehitable withdrew from the human world. Ghosts were everywhere. They became bolder. She could no longer turn her back on the spirit world. Her friends feared for her survival. Nobody understood her. She would have to find her own way.

Fans of TV’s Ghost Whisperer and Long Island Medium will especially love She Sees Ghosts. This historical novel features memorable characters and delivers bone-tingling, spine chilling goosebumps. It stands on its own and it is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series by the award-winning author of Wanders Far―An Unlikely Hero’s Journey. David Fitz-Gerald delivers a historical novel with a bittersweet ending that you won’t see coming.

Would she save the spirits’ souls, or would they save her? Only time would tell.

REVIEW

To be honest, I’ve never been one who believed in ghosts. However, I do believe in stories that hold me enthralled; that mesmerize me with imaginative plots, and memorable characters. She Sees Ghosts is a delightful tale of a woman with a highly unusual gift; one that surprises, frightens, and generally creates a tense atmosphere from some of the village folk. It is a tale of tenderness born out of a horrendous tragedy early in Mehitable’s life. I was taken in by the beauty of the interactions between her, and the spirits she encounters; spirits who are often confused about what has happened, or how to proceed away from the bonds that hold them to the earth. It is also a tale of unexpected love, one which produces not only joy to Mehitable, but also the descendant of the legendary Wanders Far. The author has created an account of the early settling of upstate New York. His descriptions of the landscape had me longing to go hiking there. So too, the characters who are molding this new frontier into civilization, are wonderfully crafted to fit the time and place. A triumph of history mixed with storytelling, with more to come. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Giveaways

One lucky reader will win the Grand Prize Giveaway which includes a candle, Coffee Mug, chocolates and a signed copy of She Sees Ghosts!

Other Giveaways:

1 Coffee Mug
3 Paperbacks
5 eBooksThe giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on December 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/yLulq-she-sees-ghosts

About the Author

David Fitz-Gerald writes fiction that is grounded in history and soars with the spirits. If you’re looking for the atheist activist author by the same name, keep looking—this book is definitely not for you! After a chaotic day as a business person, Dave enjoys getting lost in the settings he imagines and spending time with the characters he creates. Writing historical fiction is like making paintings of the past. He loves to weave fact and fiction together, stirring in action, adventure, romance, and a heavy dose of the supernatural with the hope of transporting the reader to another time and place. He is an Adirondack 46-er, which means that he has hiked all of the highest peaks in New York State, so it should not be surprising when Dave attempts to glorify hikers as swashbuckling superheroes in his writing. She Sees Ghosts-A Story of a Woman Who Rescues Lost Souls is the next installment in the Adirondack Spirit Series.

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The Last Light of the Sun

by Guy Gavriel Kay

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In his eagerly awaited new novel, Guy Gavriel Kay turns his gaze to the northlands, brilliantly evoking the Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic cultures of a turbulent age.

There is nothing soft or silken about the north. The lives of men and women are as challenging as the climate and lands in which they dwell. For generations, the Erlings of Vinmark have taken their dragon-prowed ships across the seas, raiding the lands of the Cyngael and Anglcyn peoples, leaving fire and death behind. But times change, even in the north, and in a tale woven with consummate artistry, people of all three cultures find the threads of their lives unexpectedly brought together…

Bern Thorkellson, punished for his father’s sins, commits an act of vengeance and desperation that brings him face-to-face, across the sea, with a past he’s been trying to leave behind.

In the Anglcyn lands of King Aeldred, the shrewd king, battling inner demons all the while, shores up his defenses with alliances and diplomacy-and with swords and arrows-while his exceptional, unpredictable sons and daughters pursue their own desires when battle comes and darkness falls in the woods.

And in the valleys and shrouded hills of the Cyngael, whose voices carry music even as they feud and raid amongst each other, violence and love become deeply interwoven when the dragon ships come and Alun ab Owyn, chasing an enemy in the night, glimpses strange lights gleaming above forest pools.

Making brilliant use of saga, song and chronicle, Kay brings to life an unforgettable world balanced on the knife-edge of change in The Last Light of the Sun.

REVIEW

This is the 7th book by Mr. Kay that I have read, as I slowly make my way through his magnificent portfolio of prose, and once again I am in awe of his storytelling. A saga invoking the Celtic, Saxon, Gaelic, Norse world of Alfred the Great, the author splices in bits from the other parts of his magnificent world, adding even more depth to this multi-layered tale (a horse from Al-Rassan, manuscripts from Sarantium, etc.). Plumbing down to the souls of his characters, literally in some cases, the range of emotions expressed throughout the pages caused this reader to often pause and exclaim, “Holy Jad, Guy”, that was brilliant. I can only offer this to my peeps and fellow travelers, if you haven’t read any Guy Gavriel Kay, you need to rectify that soon. 😊 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The All Father Paradox (Vikingverse #1) by Ian Stuart Sharpe

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What if an ancient god escaped his fate and history was thrown to the wolves? Churchwarden Michaels thought it was just a run-of-the-mill crazy old man who stood in the graveyard, hellbent on studying the 1,000-year-old Viking memorial there. But when things start changing and outright disappearing, Michaels realizes there is more to this old man than meets the eye. Now, Michaels finds himself swept up in an ancient god’s quest to escape his destiny by reworking reality, putting history—and to Michaels’s dismay, Christianity itself—to the Viking sword. In this new Vikingverse novel, storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the sagas: A young Norse prince plots to shatter empires and claim the heavens; a scholar exiled to the frontier braves the dangers of the New World, only to find those “new worlds” are greater than he imagined; a captured Jötunn plants the dreams of freedom during a worlds-spanning war; a bold empress discovers there is a price for immortality, one her ancestors have come to collect. With the timelines stretched to breaking point, it’s up to Churchwarden Michaels to save reality as we know it.

REVIEW

Every once in a while I encounter a book that is so densely packed with subject matter, that it requires a second reading…not that that is a bad thing, on the contrary when the book is as exciting and thought provoking as The All Father Paradox. The tale is part alternative history, part fantasy, part science fiction…  Intriguing is an understatement…in some ways it reminds me of the Dan Simmons’ Ilium & Olympus duo. The author presents parallel universes, one of which sees the pantheon of Norse gods and Norse culture prevailing over Christianity; a well crafted and interesting concept. Indeed the author has given us a most entertaining, well written creative endeavor. As I mentioned earlier, I will certainly be giving it reread to insure that I’ve gotten everything that this amazing book has to offer. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

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In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

REVIEW

I am once again in awe. I have waxed enthusiastic praise on each of the five books I have previously read by this author. River of Stars now makes six. It is a masterpiece of compelling fiction; a narrative that grabs hold and propels the reader along the meandering path of the multi-faceted plot. It is breathtaking in it’s scope; the world created by the author; the characters who fit perfectly into it; the endless tale of court (political) intrigue, a tale worthy to be called a classic.

I read a lot of historical fiction books, a good portion of them are by request as it seems my humble blog of reviews has garnered some interest among authors. I have a backlog of books to read and review, but I also like to read just for the pure pleasure of it. The backlog be damned – there are more Guy Gavriel Kay books yet to be read.

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Virgin of the Wind Rose (Christopher Columbus) by Glen Craney

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While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane becomes obsessed with a magical word square found inside an underground church guarding the tomb of the biblical Adam.

Drawn into a web of esoteric intrigue, she and a roguish antiquities thief named Elymas must race an elusive and taunting mastermind to find the one relic needed to resurrect Solomon’s Temple. A trail of cabalistic clues leads them to the catacombs of Rome, the crypt below Chartres Cathedral, a Masonic shaft in Nova Scotia, a Portuguese shipwreck off Sumatra, and the caverns under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Intertwined with this modern mystery-thriller, a parallel duel is waged:

The year is 1452. One of the most secretive societies in history, Portugal’s Order of Christ, is led by a reclusive visionary, Prince Henry the Navigator. He and his medieval version of NASA merged with the CIA scheme to foil their archenemies, the Inquisitor Torquemada and Queen Isabella of Castile, who plan to bring back Christ for the Last Judgment by ridding the world of Jews, heretics, and unbelievers.

Separated by half a millennium, two conspiracies to usher in the Tribulations promised by the Book of Revelation dovetail in this fast-paced thriller to expose the world’s most explosive secret: The true identity of Christopher Columbus and the explorer’s connection to those now trying to spark the End of Days.

REVIEW

A sprawling tale spanning 500 years, The Virgin of the Wind Rose, is about as exciting as it gets. It is also a very erudite tome…the reader will inevitably have to think about what they just read…the word square, the navigational methods, the zealous religion aspect, etc. The story alternates between the late 15th century – the mysterious Portuguese sea going activities, and modern day where Jaq and Boz are pulled into a conspiracy to usher in The Last Days – The Rapture. Meticulously researched, the author creates a plausible scenario for the activities of the Portuguese sea going visionaries, and the cult like evangelicals. The characters are well written; their thoughts and emotions on full display. I enjoyed the inner debate of Jaq’s Christian beliefs versus her mounting doubts…but even she, a talented, well educated person can blurt out ,”Everyone knows Jesus was a Christian.”…cults will do that even to smart minds.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose is an unusual read. A page turner with a caveat – must slow down a bit to understand the arcane nature of the narrative, but once the pieces of this 500 year old puzzle fall into place, it is a good read..a very good read.   5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sorcery in Alpara by Judith Starkston

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A curse that consumes armies, a court full of traitors, a clutch of angry concubines and fantastical creatures who offer help but hate mankind.

Tesha’s about to become queen of a kingdom under assault from all sides, but she has powerful allies: her strategist husband, his crafty second-in-command, and her brilliant blind sister.

Then betrayal strips her of them all. To save her marriage and her world, she will have to grapple with the serpentine plot against her and unleash the goddess Ishana’s uncontrollable magic—without destroying herself.

“Based on historical events in the Bronze Age, Starkston wraps history and magic together in an unforgettable package.”

If you like unique world building, ancient sorcery, and mythical beasts, with richly portrayed characters and enthrallingly complex plots, then immerse yourself in Sorcery in Alpara, the second in this award-winning epic historical fantasy series. See why readers call the Tesha series “fast-paced,” “psychologically riveting” and “not to be missed.”

REVIEW

A startling sequel, Sorcery in Alpara, is one intense tale. Tesha, in a series of events becomes an outcast even in the eyes of Hattu. Time and again, situations are twisted to make her situation worse. Powerful magic, sorcery, and a coterie of people who want to see her fall make this story a joy to read.  Time and again, I would wonder how much Tesha could take. Masterful characters, a multi-faceted plot that keeps the reader in suspense…a good read indeed.  4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Priestess of Ishana (Tesha #1) by Judith Starkston

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A curse, a conspiracy and the clash of kingdoms. A defiant priestess confronts her foes, armed only with ingenuity and forbidden magic.

A malignant curse from the Underworld threatens Tesha’s city with fiery devastation. The young priestess of Ishana, goddess of love and war, must overcome this demonic darkness. Charred remains of an enemy of the Hitolian Empire reveal both treason and evil magic. Into this crisis, King Hattu, the younger brother of the Great King, arrives to make offerings to the goddess Ishana, but he conceals his true mission in the city. As a connection sparks between King Hattu and Tesha, the Grand Votary accuses Hattu of murderous sorcery and jails him under penalty of death. Isolated in prison, Hattu’s only hope lies in Tesha to uncover the conspiracy against him. Unfortunately, the Grand Votary is Tesha’s father, a rash, unyielding man, and now her worst enemy. To help Hattu, she must risk destroying her own father.

Step into this exotic world of historical fantasy, with its richly imagined details of the Bronze Age, evocative of the Near East. In a whirlpool of magic, politics, family crisis and love, Tesha pursues justice over the dark forces arrayed against her.

REVIEW

An entertaining tale – historical fiction mixed with magic and sorcery in an alternate Hittite world prior to the Achaean Invasion (Trojan War).  Priestess of Ishana is not only a captivating look at that ancient empire, it is also the story of a young woman and her struggle to serve her goddess while in the middle of an investigation that could see her father and family destroyed. It is a complex plot, a conspiracy of hate and revenge, that had me engaged from the start. Characters that fit the time and place, giving the tale a realism. Even the magical element feels right; the sorcery believable and real, the demons full of power, the invocations full of danger to the user, the goddess a demanding one. It is also a tale of intense emotions, stressful situations. One in which Tesha must find strength she never knew she had, steadfastly clinging to her faith in Ishana in order to come to the truth whatever the outcome. 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The King’s Furies by Stephanie Churchill

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Not all enemies are visible.
Sometimes the most defiant ones exist only in the heart and mind.
The Defiler of Prille and his hound are dead, and the houses of Sajen and Vitus are united. With the birth of a new heir to the throne, peace settles over Agrius.
But it’s a fragile peace.
As King Casmir works to restore the former glory of his inheritance, rumors of betrayal and treachery reach the throne, threatening to shatter everything he has worked hard to achieve.
When old enemies surface, the rumors become real. Disaster strikes, plunging him into a darkness that feels palpable.
Many advisers step forward to help, but it’s never easy to determine friend from foe when it comes to the power around the throne.
Faced with the decision to forge his own path and stay true to his honor, or to become like his father, a man he despised, his bonds of unity are tested.
To the point of breaking.
What compromises will he make to secure the future of his family and his kingdom?
Will he lose both himself and the ones he loves?
Follow his journey into darkness.

REVIEW

As is somewhat evident in our world today, not all people react positively in the face of a changing political or social environment. This truth forms the basis for The King’s Furies as Casmir is beset with issues brought on by old enemies, and those resistant to, or adversely affected by the ban on slavery. The main characters in the series are put to the test in this pulse racing drama as they deal with the soul crushing events. The author has crafted a wonderful story…her characters are such that their pains, anxieties, and joys resonate with the reader. The plots against Casmir, insidious and seemingly unsolvable, bring out the worst in him and some surprising talents in Jack (I say no more, other than that he is more than just a blacksmith turned noble and friend to the King).

The King’s Furies is certainly a worthy addition to the series – a fantasy world, yet one that is easily recognizable as it could be a historical rendering of our past. A very real look at the ironic fact that no period of history is ever ‘peaceful’. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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