Book Blitz
Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time...
...remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.

As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.

Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.

In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.

Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice...

Homeric Chronicles #1


26 Dicembre 2018


Do you hear me screaming?! Il giorno di Santo Stefano è in arrivo Song of Sacrifice di Janell Rhiannon, un romanzo che già mi fa girare la testa *O* L'ho adocchiato immediatamente quando Regina Wamba ha mostrato la cover, da lei realizzata, sul suo gruppo FB. E quando ho letto la trama... Miooo‼ Questo libro sarà sicuramente mio. Arriverà sui miei scaffali, è una promessa. Io adoro la mitologia greca, potrei leggere tomi su tomi. Per questo blitz, l'autrice ci ha fornito molti estratti (che ora andrò a leggere uno per uno!) ma ho scelto subito quello tra Cassandra di Troia, sorella di Ettore e Paride, e il dio Apollo ♥_♥ Cerchiamo di mantenere la calma...!!!

SEVENTEEN, sacrifice of Cassandra
1270 BCE
(**trigger warning for chapter 17** non-consensual sex/rape. It is not glamorized, but illustrates the power difference between a mortal and a god.)

HECUBA ARRANGED HER daughter’s long, dark tresses into braids beaded with gold and tied with silver cords. She’d known this day would arrive and rip the fragile joy from her heart. I am losing another child to Apollo … “Stand my sweet girl.”
“Yes?” Hecuba said, as she wrapped the golden belt of coins around her daughter’s hips, arranging the soft pleats to perfection. Placing a soft hand on her mother’s, she squeezed her fingers gently. “Were you thinking of him just now?”
Hecuba’s hands never stopped arranging Cassandra’s gown. “Who, my dear?”
“Mother, you know who I mean.”
Without meeting her daughter’s inquiring gaze, Hecuba stood.
“The Forgotten Prince,” Cassandra spoke aloud the only name she knew for the brother she’d never known.
Hecuba’s regal bearing straightened. “No.”
“Mother, I can feel your sadness.”
Sighing in defeat, the queen’s shoulders relaxed. “Apollo’s snake made you too wise for one so young.” Recalling the sight of her beautiful twins entwined with a giant snake licking at their ears, Hecuba shuddered. As horrified as she was, it was more frightening to think that now she would have to turn her daughter over to the god. The union with the snake had sealed their fates as seers. There was no turning back. Apollo had spoken.
“I will pray that the god answers your prayers,” Cassandra said.
“What prayers can bring the dead to life? Not even the gods have that power. The dead are to dust and their souls to Hades.”
“I will pray that your sadness is lifted. That you will smile and be happy.”
Hecuba shook her head. “Pray for no such thing, daughter. Grief is the only way left for me to love him. My heart aches for the loss of that sweet face.” Clutching at her breasts, a tear slid down her cheek. “These still ache because I only briefly suckled him. No, dearest daughter, don’t pray that my grief is lifted. I need it to survive.”
“As you wish it, Mother.”
“This morning is your day. No more unhappy words. Let’s rejoice in your joining the order of the god. Are you frightened?”
“A little,” Cassandra admitted.
Hecuba embraced her daughter. She inhaled the sweet essence of her hair and the gentle shoulders of a girl not yet a woman. Tears stung the queen’s heavily kohl-lined eyes, clinging stubbornly to her lower lashes. She pulled back, holding her daughter’s shoulders in each hand. “I’ve never been more proud of you than this day. I think I have not loved you so much as this moment.”
“I’m glad I make you proud, Mother.”
The queen took her daughter’s face between her hands and met her eyes. “No matter where the god leads you, where this journey takes you, I will always remember my little Cassandra splashing in the fountain, giggling with me at noon naps, and her sweet, gentle kisses on my cheek. Know this, my love. And forget it not. Forget me not.”
“I’ll remember. I promise.”

THE COOL MORNING light gave way to the warm afternoon as the procession to Apollo’s temple wound through the maze of the stone paved streets of Troy. Throngs of citizens watched as the Princess Cassandra made her pilgrimage to the god. Flower petals like soft rain fell about her head; their honeyed fragrance filled the air. The people rejoiced that a royal daughter would serve the most revered god and by default serve them with her beauty and influence.
Cassandra counted each step with growing anticipation and fear. There were exactly seven platforms of seven stairs each leading to the main entrance between seven rows of enormous pillars. Once inside, attendants led the princess to a dimly lit private chamber. Inside, a bowl of flames licked the air at the feet of an enormous golden statue of the god.
“Remove your clothing,” the high priestess commanded.
Cassandra’s heart raced. Her tongue nervously passed over her lips. “Why?”
The high priestess pressed her lips tightly together. Her face a wrinkled mask of disdain? Anger? “The god commands it of us all,” she replied evenly.
The princess reached up and unfastened the golden pins holding her gown at the shoulders. It floated silently to the floor. Embarrassed, she wrapped her arms across her bare breasts and squeezed her thighs closer together in a futile effort to conceal the dark patch of hair from the high priestess. “What do I do now?” Cassandra asked.
“Lay on your back before the god.”
Cassandra looked down at her feet. “There’s no covering or rug? I’m to lie on the bare floor?”
“Nothing of this world shall touch your flesh, only the hands of the god. After you’re confirmed.”
“For your virginity.”
Cassandra’s eyes widened. “I am a virgin. I swear. I—”
“All young women make such proclamations. Who would admit their defilement at the feet of the god? Now, lie down before him.”
Cassandra’s knees shook as she knelt on the cold marble, never once taking her arms from her breasts. She lay down as commanded. The high priestess placed a warm palm on her lower belly and used her other hand to spread Cassandra’s legs. Tears of humiliation burned behind the princess’ closed eyes. The elder woman’s fingers pressed into her privates with difficulty, before she felt a slight sting and a burning sensation. The woman withdrew her hand and wiped a small amount of blood on a piece of linen.
“Apollo will be pleased. You are intact and smaller than most initiates.” She took the cloth smeared with Cassandra’s blood and placed it in the bowl of fire at Apollo’s feet. The flames hissed and spewed white smoke into the air.
The soft-falling footsteps of the high priestess disappeared, leaving the Princess of Troy alone. Cassandra allowed her tears to slide down her cheeks where they pooled in her ears. Her entire body shivered, as the dark marble floor chilled her bare skin. Time passed slowly and she drifted to hazy sleep to escape the unknown.
A warm breath blew across her shoulder, startling her. She tried to sit up, but a heavy, hot hand pressed her shoulder back down. A masculine voice whispered gently into her ear, “Close your eyes. Don’t open them unless I command.”
Cassandra’s eyelids obeyed the command. She tried to cover her privates with her hands, but her body no longer responded to her wishes. What is happening? He can see me. Mama, what’s happening? Why did you bring me here? Even though she couldn’t see him, the heat of his observation burned her skin.
“You are confirmed?” the voice asked.
With a quivering voice, Cassandra replied, “Yes.”
“I am pleased.”
“You are Apollo?”
“Who else would I be?” Apollo said. “Don’t talk. I want to look at my offering. Make certain it pleases me.”
Apollo’s warm touch slid over every inch of her. He ran his fingers across her breasts, cupping each one. “Satisfactory.” Apollo slipped his hand between her thighs, pressing his fingers into her opening, testing her virginity. Cassandra squirmed against Apollo’s intimate probing. “You’re … not ready to accommodate a god.”
Cassandra squeezed heavy tears from her eyes. “Apologies.” Her voice vanished into the vast chamber.
The god moved over her naked body like a wave of hot air. “No need for such mortal expressions to me.” Tiny tongues of flame swirled across her skin, burning and enticing her to writhe against them. Her body vibrated with the heat. She fought to keep her eyes shut. She fought to stifle a scream. Terror filled her. For the first time, she realized that being taken by a god would not be what the weaving women spoke of. There would be no gentleness or caressing her to shaking legs.
The marble beneath her shook and slowly her body rose from the floor. Her head fell back, suspended by nothingness. Her hair tumbled like a waterfall spilling onto the marble. Burning hands grabbed her thighs and spread them forcefully apart. Her arms were useless to help her. They weighed as two anchors at her sides. The heat of Apollo moved between her open legs. He slowly pushed a searing flame into her sacred cross. Cassandra howled with agony. Her body twitched and arched in protest of Apollo’s invasion of her most intimate places. When he was finished, she felt the hot liquid of their union seeping from her and pooling beneath her bare buttocks. “Your reaction is most displeasing.” Apollo’s disappointment echoed in the chamber.
The god’s hold on her released, so Cassandra pulled her legs closed and sat painfully upright. The marble floor beneath her had risen into a large altar.
“Open your eyes.”
Cassandra obeyed, but kept her focus directed away from the direction of Apollo.
“Look upon the magnificence you spurn with your mortal fear.”
Her eyes traced a path along the floor toward the sound of Apollo’s voice. She glanced up and beheld the most beautiful creature she’d ever seen leaning casually against his own statue. He stood unashamedly naked and taller than any man she’d ever known—even Hektor himself would be dwarfed by such size. She averted her gaze from his fiery member. The god’s skin shimmered like liquid gold. His eyes burned bright blue and orange. His hair curled perfection of honeyed crystal veined with silver.
Cassandra met his gaze. “I’m sorry I haven’t pleased you.” Thank the other gods. Now, I can go home. I want my mother.<br> “Dry your eyes. I have no pity for mortal fear. What do I care for your sentiments? I don’t. I take what is owed me. I take what I want. Sometimes, I’m satisfied. This time, unfortunately for you, I am not.”
“Am I to be rejected?”
Apollo stroked his chiseled chin with long elegant fingers. “No. No. No, you will serve me, simple mortal. I grant you the foresight you desire.”
Cassandra bowed her head. “I’m grateful.” The words burned her in the back of her throat.
“You may not be, considering your words will always fall upon deaf ears.”
“Why do you hand your blessing with a curse?”
“It will make the games … much more interesting.”
“The games?”
“Mortals,” the god sighed in exasperation. “You intrigue from afar, yet up close you tend to bore. Your prayers and supplications are our greatest entertainment, and I admit, a source of competition.”
Understanding dawned on Cassandra. “We are nothing but pawns to you? Our lives … meaningless to you?”
“Now, by the balls of Zeus, she sees.”
“What’s to become of me?”
“You’ll be trained, here, in my temple. Serve me. Obey me. Submit to me without question.”
Tears stung her eyes. “And if I refuse?”
Apollo’s laughter rang sweetly through the chamber. “You’re one to question. There’s no right of refusal, unless you wish a plague or two to sweep the citadel.”
Cassandra realized reasoning with Apollo would be futile. She knew submission must come. She couldn’t bear it if her disgust and disillusionment for Apollo should bring harm to Troy. I’ll protect Troy no matter what he commands. Serving the god would not be the joyful serenity she believed it would be. “I accept your blessing, Apollo.” She lowered her head. “I give my full obedience to the god.”
“There it is! My docile mortal has finally figured out the game. You may end up pleasing the god … in time.”
When Cassandra looked up, he was gone. She glanced about the chamber. The fire was out. The light had dimmed and she felt suddenly chilled. Within moments the high priestess entered, followed by three young female attendants. The first carried a bowl, the second a towel, and the last a fresh chiton. They looked so young, younger than she. Had they also been subjected to Apollo’s assault? She shuddered at the thought.
“Step down, Cassandra. You must be cleansed,” the high priestess commanded.
Cassandra slid from the altar. “Is it always this way? With Apollo?”
“Only the chosen are bound to Apollo as you now are. The rest serve in peace.”
“What do you mean … serve in peace?”
“Spread your legs so you may be washed clean of your blood and the god’s flow.”
She looked down at her thighs and saw her blood mingled with pale silver liquid—the contrast a beautiful mess, smearing her legs with the visible evidence of how the god raped her and stole her virginity. A single thought horrified her. “I will not conceive a child from this, will I?”
“Only if the god wishes it.”
As the maids busied themselves bathing and dressing her, tears once again welled and spilled down Cassandra’s cheeks. Her life was no longer her own. Her body was no longer her own. Her mind would no longer be her own. Apollo would be life and torment for her. She would curse and serve him until her death.  



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1 commento:

  1. Ce l'ho ancora in WL e sono indecisa se leggerlo o meno :/ Adoro la cover e mi incuriosisce la trama ma ancora non sono del tutto convinta.


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