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Black Ships by Jo Graham

Black Ships

by Jo Graham

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The daughter of a Trojan slave becomes a prophetess and sails with Aeneas on his legendary journey to found what will become Rome.

Primarily historical fiction with some fantasy elements, such as prophecies and a drug-induced trip to the Underworld, Black Ships is an entertaining retelling of the Aeneas legend from a woman's perspective. Gull was conceived by rape when her mother was taken as a slave from Troy. When she becomes handicapped and can't work, she is given to Pythia to raise as an oracle, and as a young girl, she has a vision of black ships at battle. This vision comes true when, after being raided by Neoptolemus, Aeneas leads the remainder of his people to rescue the enslaved women and children. Pythia impulsively decides to join them and becomes their oracle, their Sybil. She earns respect and friendship from Aeneas and his captains, and becomes one of Aeneas's advisors. The roles of other women are also highlighted. For example, Lide is a healer and midwife who does most of the doctoring on the journey, and when they reach their final destination, Lavinia is shown to be a wise and caring queen. (I'm glad I also have Ursula K. Le Guin's Lavinia to read as a follow-up to this.) Even the Egyptian princess is sympathetic in her madness. This was an engaging read, although I am not sure I will tackle the sequels.

Read in 2015 for the SFFCat. ( )
  sturlington | Jan 16, 2015 |
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
Rating: Very Very Good

A retelling of the Aeneid, told through the eyes of a young girl enslaved when Troy falls. She is hurt, and no longer able to work, is then given to the temple of the Lady of the Dead as an acolyte, who when grown, becomes the chosen of the Lady and the Sybil to Aeneas.

Written beautifully, plainly and clearly told with no fake embellishments, moving and engrossing.

What a great book to start the year with. ( )
  majkia | Jan 4, 2015 |
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
{I listened to the audiobook version (narrated by Clare Corbett, who sounds astoundingly like Keeley Hawes, which is not at all a bad thing *g*).}

Fantastic. Pretty much everything I could ask for in a novel of the ancient Mediterranean world, especially the roles of the various deities and the ways in which they participate in the characters' lives.


( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
This novel revisits the The Aeneid from the engaging perspective of a young girl with the gift of prophecy. Black Ships is a nicely-balanced mix of mythological elements with history and an interesting new variation on an old tale. ( )
  saturnloft | Sep 9, 2013 |
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The structure of this story isn’t anything readers of feminist historical fantasy haven’t seen before... But although the novel lacks surprises, it compensates with sympathetic characters and emotional truth.
added by sturlington | editKirkus Reviews (May 20, 2010)

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You must know that, despite all else I am, I am of the People.
In the beginning there was nothing, not even time. And then there was something. A word. A thought. And then in an instant there was everything.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316068004, Paperback)

"Haunting and bittersweet, lush and vivid, this extraordinary story has lived with me since I first read it." --Naomi Novik, author of His Majesty's Dragon

The world is ending. One by one the mighty cities are falling, to earthquakes, to flood, to raiders on both land and sea.

In a time of war and doubt, Gull is an oracle. Daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, chosen at the age of seven to be the voice of the Lady of the Dead, it is her destiny to counsel kings.

When nine black ships appear, captained by an exiled Trojan prince, Gull must decide between the life she has been destined for and the most perilous adventure -- to join the remnant of her mother's people in their desperate flight. From the doomed bastions of the City of Pirates to the temples of Byblos, from the intrigues of the Egyptian court to the haunted caves beneath Mount Vesuvius, only Gull can guide Prince Aeneas on his quest, and only she can dare the gates of the Underworld itself to lead him to his destiny.

In the last shadowed days of the Age of Bronze, one woman dreams of the world beginning anew. This is her story.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:36 -0400)

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The daughter of a slave taken from fallen Troy, Gull was chosen to become the voice of the Lady of the Dead and counsel kings. But when nine black ships appear, captained by exiled Prince Aeneas, she joins him as his guide and leads him to his destiny.… (more)

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Orbit Books

2 editions of this book were published by Orbit Books.

Editions: 0316068004, 0316067997

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