Hauser, a classics scholar, drew the inspiration for her first novel from the Iliad, but instead of focusing on familiar heroes, such as Hector and Achilles, she fleshes out the stories of two women who play minor roles in Homer's epic. Krisayis, daughter of the Trojan high priest, hopes to wed Prince Troilus, though her father has other ideas. And Briseis is newly married to King Mynes of Lyrnassus. When the Greeks invade, both Troilus and Mynes are killed, and Krisayis and Briseis are taken captive. Krisayis is turned over to Agamemnon to be his slave, and Briseis becomes the concubine of Achilles. Krisayis discovers the secret of Achilles' heel and determines to make this known to the Trojans. The gods are also busy, engaged in their own squabbles and amusing themselves by interfering with mortal concerns. The language tends to be overwrought, and it can be hard to keep track of Briseis and Krisayis as they take turns as narrators. But readers interested in Greek legend and mythology will appreciate Hauser's take, a clever reimagining with scholarly underpinnings and the first volume in a planned trilogy. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Making her fiction debut, Hauser has written a fresh reinterpretation of the story of the Trojan War and the fall of Troy. Alternating among the perspectives of the Trojans, the Greeks, and the gods, Hauser follows the events leading up to the climactic destruction of one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. Although she gives a nod to the familiar heroes of Homer's epic Illiad, the author concentrates on the lesser-known Trojan women caught up in the conflict—Krisayis, the 15-year-old daughter of the high priest, who is dedicated to a life of service to the gods but in love with Prince Troilus, and doomed Briseis, princess of Pedasus. Other elements found in the classic tale—ferocious battles, behind-the-throne machinations, seduction, love, and loss—are also here. Hauser's characters are brave, willful, sometimes foolish, impulsive, and utterly relatable, and her portrayal of the manipulative, capricious gods is particularly wonderful. VERDICT Extensively researched and based on many of the minor characters of Homer's great work, this quick-paced, enthralling retelling will attract readers who loved Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Instead of focusing exclusively on the kings, princes, and gods who usually take the spotlight in Greek myth and history, Hauser turns the reader's attention to the women driving the story behind the scenes in this consuming debut novel, the first installment of the Golden Apple Trilogy. Newly married princess Briseis and reluctant priestess-to-be Krisayis are trying to navigate life and love in a society that gives them little agency when they find themselves in the midst of bloody battles, political prophesies, and treacherous gods after the onset of the Trojan War. In addition to the meddling gods who toy with their fortunes from the clouds, the formidable heroines must deal with both sides of the epic clash of kingdoms after being captured by—and eventually escaping—the Greek hero Achilles. Hauser's diverting take on this timeless tale delivers romance, action, and intrigue, with a certain emphasis on the romance. At times the prose explodes with floral extravagance, and the descriptions go to great lengths to ensure the reader knows how beautiful all the women are. But Hauser saves the day with well-paced plotting and engrossing character arcs. Briseis and Krisayis may not be (almost) invulnerable like Achilles, or as powerful as Zeus, but their bravery is more than enough for a fun and absorbing read. (Jan.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.