Please join me here tomorrow for an interview with author Judith Starkston!
Starkston’s debut novel “Hand of Fire” is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad from an entirely different – and female – perspective. Here we hear of Achilles and the Trojan War through the eyes of Briseis, priestess of the healing goddess Kamrusepa and widow of the heir to the throne of Lyrnessos, which is sacked by Achilles and the Greeks. Briseis becomes Achilles’ prisoner and fights an attraction to the man who was responsible for the killing and plundering that destroyed her family and her city. Once a prisoner and in love with the doomed hero, Briseis becomes a pawn in the larger struggle, caught between two warring powers, Achilles and Agamemnon.
Briseis is a minor character in the Iliad and fans of the 2004 movie “Troy” might remember her as Achilles’ captive and lover in the movie, a girl of torn loyalties but still someone with a small role in the story. Here, Starkston brings Briseis to life and gives her the credit she is due. We experience her thoughts, her dreams, her perspective on the killing, raping, and pillaging of the Trojan War, her relationships with her family, and her growing fear as she is pulled between Achilles and Agamemnon. Starkston dusts off the classic and gives the readers a view through the eyes of a participant, one who played an integral role in the events but one who has been largely overlooked by historians and readers over the years. We experience the events in ways that bind the reader to Briseis, a young woman in extraordinary circumstances but with more in common with modern women than one could imagine.
Attic red figure vase depicting Achilles and a girl we can imagine to be Briseis (Wikimedia)
Starkston shows us the Trojan War in a whole new light, with a heroine that is fierce, brave, loyal, and intriguing. Everyone should experience the Trojan War through Briseis’s eyes.
Judith Starkston writes historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire. Ms. Starkston is a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) who taught high school English, Latin and humanities. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Arizona with their golden retriever Socrates. Hand of Fire is her debut novel.
Again, Judith will join me here tomorrow for an interview about her debut work. Please join us!
The book can be found here: