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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Hand of Fire by Judith Starkston

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Once in a while I receive requests to preview an author’s newest work.  In this case the author, Judith Starkston, asked me to read her novel Hand of Fire, a story about the Homeric figure of Briseis.  Well once she told me it was a Trojan War era tale I accepted without hesitation as this period of history has long been a favorite of mine.  Indeed, it was as a youngster reading the exploits of Heinrich Schliemann and his search for Troy that set me upon the path of being an ancient history aficionado.  I have read quite a few historical fictions of the epic struggle , David Gemmell, Glyn Illiffe, Dan Simmons to name a few but this is the first one I have read where the main character is female.   Briseis is probably known to most everyone who has read The Iliad or seen the historically flawed movie, Troy, as the cause of strife between Achilles and Agamemnon.   What the author does in Hand of Fire is to give her a captivating back story , an in depth tale of a young priestess of the goddess Kamrusepa, the Hittite goddess of healing and fertility, coming of age in a time of war and a young woman coming to grips with who the she is.

The author does an excellent job in setting up the eventual meeting of Achilles and Briseis and in the ongoing byplay between them as they slowly come to grips with their emotions and their entwined fates.

 

 

Bio

Judith StarkstonAuthor PhotoI write historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire, as well as the occasional contemporary short story. I also review here on my website, as well as Historical Novels Review, the New York Journal of Books and the Poisoned Fiction Review.

Socrates, the dog

I trained as a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) and taught high school English, Latin and humanities. As part of the research for my novels, I traveled extensively in Turkey. My husband and I have two grown children and live in Phoenix, AZ, along with our golden retriever Socrates.