Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review: The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

Title:  The Lost Sisterhood
Author:  Anne Fortier 
Publisher:  Ballantine Books
Release Date: March 11 2014
ASIN: 9780345536228
Pages:  608 pages
How I Read It: eARC
Genre: women’s fiction, historical fiction, romance, mythology, adventure
Find it at Goodreads

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.

Our thoughts:

WOW! We scarcely know where to begin with this review – just WOW! This book has it all – adventure, intrigue, romance, exotic locales, strong female characters, amazing historical detail, ancient mythology, and Amazons, yes, Amazons! Even though we read Fortier’s first novel, Juliet, and loved it, we were slightly nervous when we first noticed the length of this book…but we shouldn’t have been! This is a big book at 608 pages, but it kept us utterly captivated throughout every single page. The author grabbed our attention with the prologue and never let go until the very last word.

The story is told in parallel timelines – one ancient and one contemporary – each with its own strong and engaging female lead character. This type of storytelling can be difficult to pull off, but when done well it is one of our favorites to read. We are pleased to say that Fortier manages it masterfully, and the tale moves seamlessly from one timeline to the other. We found both storylines equally compelling (which often isn’t the case), and with each switch we were eager to catch up with the characters being featured. Fortier interweaves the two tales perfectly, as whenever a ‘discovery’ is made in the modern story it is also explored and explained in the context of the Bronze Age timeline. Locations are shadowed, as well, as our modern adventurers trace the movements of the ancient Amazon women in an attempt to discover their final destination.

The mysteries keep you guessing, allowing you to discern just enough to keep you engaged, while still withholding secrets to surprise you as the tale unfolds. The romances develop over time and are not overdone. Myrina’s relationship in the past timeline is particularly charming.

We are big fans of ancient history and Greek mythology, and we found the author’s reimagining of the events of the Trojan War to be nothing short of brilliant! We adored the twists she made to the ‘traditional’ tale, and her alterations were so entirely plausible they deftly illustrate the concept that the story we ‘know’, while hitting some of the same highlights, could easily be very different from the actual course of events.

The relevant issues of Black Market trading of antiquities and the importance of repatriation of such treasures are subtly touched on. Obviously, however, in a tale about Amazons one of the more overriding themes is the strength of women. This is aptly explored in both storylines, without coming across as overly feminist, and both main characters learn to embrace their strength and resilience, and resolve to never forget their legacy.

“I am an Amazon, the killer of beasts and men. Freedom runs through my veins; no rope can hold me. I fear nothing; fear runs from me. I always walk forward, for that is the only way. Try to stop me, and you will feel my rage.”

It was fascinating to read a story about the Amazons, a group not often written about, and the idea of the possibility of modern day members of this sisterhood was especially intriguing.

We cannot say enough good things about this book and feel it will almost certainly be one of our best reads of 2014. We would love to hear what you think of it should you decide to pick it up!

And remember, as Diana learns while reading the history of her ancient Amazon sisters, “’Only we, the Amazons, will live forever.’ What more do you need to know?”

Our Rating 

(We had to increase the size of our teacups for this one because 5 regular sized teacups simply weren't enough for this truly amazing book!)

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