I first encountered Rebecca Lochlann on a Goodreads discussion, as I recall about the book ‘Ariadne’ by June Rachuy Brindel. That sadly neglected novel ‘Ariadne’ is, unsurprisingly, about Ariadne, the Cretan princess who takes Theseus as her lover and according to the legend, is separated from him at Naxos (legends vary as to the reason).
I thought that book brilliant, but in discussing it I was to come across some more books about Ancient Crete and the Minotaur legend which I consider even better.
During this discussion, Rebecca Lochlann mentioned that she was writing an epic series, the first three volumes of which are set during the 1600’s BC.. . The Bronze Age section of this far reaching tale would encompass the devastating earthquake which largely destroyed the ancient civilisation of Crete.
As the date for this earthquake is now known to pre-date the time at which Athens was an important power, though the main character Aridela was, like Ariadne, a Cretan princess, Theseus would not feature in the story as the love interest. Instead, two warring half brothers from Mycanae are rivals for her love as she becomes heir to the throne of Crete – which was then – unlike the mainland powers, a matriarchy.
The series is planned to extend from the Bronze Age to some time in the future, involving the same main characters, reincarnated as different individuals.
I was intrigued. I didn’t get the time to read the first three books in this exciting projected series for some months, but when I did I was riveted. . The books are lively, excellently written, brilliantly researched and evocative. Ancient Crete comes to life and the dramatic confrontations between these vivid and believable, yet iconic, characters are played out against a vivid depiction of the Bronze Age Greek islands.
I would recommend them to anyone interested in ancient history, historical fantasy and mythical fiction. These first three novels in this epic series, which deal with the overthrow of matriarchy in Ancient Crete are real ‘page turners’, full of conflicted loyalties, passionate love and hatred, adventure and betrayals. Besides the enthralling depiction of the terrors of the volcanic eruption and the excitement of the rivalry between the King of Mycanae’s two sons for Aridela, there is war, invasion, murder,
diplomatic intrigue, and adventure in realms outside space and time.
It’s a wonderful story and on reading it I predicted that it would become a classic and am confident that in time I will be proved right. Rumour has it that it has already been chosen as a set book for a college course already.
The characters are, as I said, true to life. You’ll love some, dislike others and detest what many of them do. My favourite was the fearless, straightforward, blonde Amazon Selene. My least favourite was Aexiaire, devoted servant to the arrogant Mycanean Prince Chrysaleon, who would do just about anything to serve his interests, including – of course – murder.
Below is the review I wrote for the first book, ‘The Year God’s Daughter’.
The story of the main characters, their passions, loyalties and fates is set against the background of the concerted attack on matriarchy in Bronze Age Greece, as typified by the ambitions of Poisedon worshipping Mycenae on the wealth and sea power of Ancient Crete, the bastion of Goddess worship.
I was drawn into this from the first, and extremely impressed by the wealth of background knowledge of ancient Knossos and Mycenae.
R Lochlann is an unobtrusive narrator, but in depicting the defeat of matriarchy, doesn’t take refuge behind a stance of ‘authorial neutrality’ covertly to endorse the brutalities of invading patrirachy; without being a hectoring, authorial presence she nevertheless clearly shows the brutality of her mainland, Poiseden worshipping princes in their attitudes towards women, the shabbiness of their motives in their attack on Goddess worship (whatever they might say to themselves of ‘putting an end to a barbaric custom’ in ending the sacrifice of the King for a Year).
There is violence in this story, but it is never gratuitous; erotic intervals too, but they aren’t written just to excite the reader but an integral part of the plot. The writing is strong throughout, and the author doesn’t flinch in portraying the full bloodiness and violence of the death of The King for a Year any more than she flinches from showing the hostility towards a women that lies behind a culture that regards the routine rape of women taken in battle as acceptable.
The characters in this story are complicated, vivid and human, their motivation often realistically hidden from themselves. Intriguing symbols decorate the chapter headings, redolent of Ancient Crete. All the archetypical factors for a story of epic grandeur are here, conquest, ambition, conflicted loyalties, love, betrayal permeate the story.
Aridela, impulsive, recklessly brave, warm hearted, sensual, idealistic, impatient of the ‘wisdom of her elders’ is a lovable heroine.
Her first love, Menoetius is a truly tragic figure, as warped internally by his subjugation to his brutal half-brother as he is scarred externally by the attack from the lioness.
Chrysaleon, hateful in his arrogance and dishonesty, impelled my reluctant respect through the force of his courage, but I hope for his come uppance later in the story.
You can buy this first book or the Bronze Age section of the fascinating series, either in book or ebook form on various outlets. Here is the Amazon.com link: