My third historical novel focusing on Ancient Greece (specifically the Bronze Age) is Last of the Amazons (2002) by Steven Pressfield. Although the story focuses largely on the same events from Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea (1962), the perspective is entirely different.
The story works as flashbacks within flashbacks; following a character called Mother Bones, who, in her youth, along with her older sister, was raised by an Amazon survivor of the Athenian-Amazon war in fifth-century BCE Greece. As Theseus (yes, the fellow who beat the Minotaur) features as a main character in the novel, it firmly straddles history and mythology, but for me, one of the most fascinating parts of the novel was its structure.
Narrated in turns by Mother Bones, who recalls stories told to her by her Governess Selene, and after the key event of the novel, also includes narration by both Mother Bones father and uncle, a picture is painted of one of the most brutal wars I’ve read about in fiction. Much like the female horse-riding clans in Suzy McKee Charnas’ Holdfast series, the novel attempts to paint of picture of a warrior woman culture and how it would look in times of peace, dispute, and war, and yes, when we get into the violence of the novel it is brutal.
An intriguing read, and definitely one that will lead me to checking out other books by the same author.
1 month ago