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Spartan Slave, Spartan Queen: A Tale of Four…
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Spartan Slave, Spartan Queen: A Tale of Four Women in Sparta

by Helena Schrader

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Recently added byjanerawoof, Chiliarch, Enzo

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A follow-up to Are They Singing in Sparta? carrying on with the further stories of Kassia, daughter of Lady Alethea and of Leon, the squire-slave of Agesandros. I really enjoyed this novel, not quite as much as the original, but this was a thoughtful book, bringing up the theme of beauty--outer and inner. Mere physical beauty can be shallow.

In a raid on Messenia, the women are captured: among them, Niobe, a beautiful royal concubine and Nika, her ugly body slave. Nika, Leon's first battle prize ever, is brought back to Alethea's and Agasandros's home to serve in the kitchen where she's needed. Niobe is taken as prize by a Spartan prince, Anaxilas. Anaxilos turns out to be a superficial, immature person and equally as self-absorbed as Niobe. From the first, she cannot and will not adjust to her slave status. After displeasing the royal family, she is taken to the estate to serve there instead. Niobe's selfish attitude about her entitlement to the best treatment and her beauty lead to conflict among the women on the estate--jealousy, resentment, hatred. Much of the novel is taken up with "women's concerns"--marriage and childbirth. Is the forthcoming union between Anaxilos and Kassia suitable or unsuitable? Both find out in their own way. The book also deals with Alethea's difficult childbirth and an inexperienced surgeon.

This novel will stay with me for a long time! In a simple story, the author has given us in her theme much to ponder. The characters for the most part, were Schrader's sympathetic Spartans. I'm sure, after millennia, emotions and reactions haven't changed all that much. Some of the ending seemed weak, but I wonder if the author had "painted herself into a corner." If only certain of the characters had been stronger emotionally and been more forthright... ( )
  janerawoof | Nov 3, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 059547067X, Paperback)

In ancient Sparta during the Second Messenian War, two women, one beautiful and one ugly, are captured and enslaved in the same raid. This is the story of how each responds to their new situation and the women they meet in Sparta.

Niobe’s beauty is so great that it captures the attention of the Messenian leader, Aristomenes. He makes her a cherished concubine—until the Spartan “Scourge of Messenia,” Agesandros, captures Aristomenes’ palace. Niobe suddenly finds herself a slave, and the spoils of the Spartan prince Anaxilas.

Unlike the beautiful and coveted Niobe, Mika is so disfigured by warts that her own uncles sold her into slavery. She becomes the spoils not of a prince but of Agesandros’ squire, Leon, a slave himself. He sends her back to serve his master’s wife, Alethea, in Sparta.

While Niobe provokes the hostility of the Spartan Queen; Mika encounters the kindness of Alethea, and her beautiful but spirited daughter, Kassia. Soon Anaxilas turns his affections from Niobe to Kassia, while Mika falls hopelessly in love with Leon, and Leon covets only the affection of Niobe.

This book picks up where Are They Singing in Sparta? left off, and although the novel revolves around unrequited love on all sides, it is really a reflection on what beauty is and how it affects human interactions—with a surprise ending.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -0400)

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