This is the tale of Kassandra, born in Athens, Greece, in the 4th century BC, and her transition from a frightened but determined girl into a formidable warrior—a path of trust and betrayal, love and loss, joy and heartbreak—the story of a woman who challenges the very gods of Greece to find happiness.
Kassandra was just ten years old when her mother spirited her away in the middle of the night to avoid an arranged marriage, traveling until they reached the mountains the Greeks believed belonged to Zeus. There, her mother left her alone, telling her she must climb the mountains, a feat no man had accomplished, to find the secret band of warrior women who were free—the Amazons.
Thus begins Kassandra’s journey, a journey that will take her from the battlefields of Persia to Athens at the height of its glory and ultimately fulfill her destiny.
CHAPTER 1: The Mountains of Macedonia, 436 BC
Kassandra felt her horse tense beneath her. Usually, that signified a predator nearby. She scanned the cliffs above her and the gorge below. The mountains of Macedonia did not welcome human life. The mountains did not welcome much life at all.
Stark, gray peaks reached the sky, green shrubs sinking their roots into cracks on the mountain’s face, clinging, daring to claim the crag as home. But, alas, it was hopeless. The closer the brush approached the pinnacle near the gods, the mountain cast them off, plunging the bushes, trees, and all life down into the valley below. Down there, only the most vigorous trees and bushes were allowed to live. These mountains belonged to the gods, just as Mount Olympus did in the lands far to the south. A man was not strong enough to live among the gods, but a woman …
Once again, Kassandra felt her horse tense, followed by the horse’s nostrils flaring and snorting. Then she heard a man’s scream and the snarling and growling of wolves. She urged her horse down the treacherous mountainside, trusting her sure-footed horse as it galloped impossibly straight downward. She leaned backward to help the horse balance, grabbing her bow and five arrows from the quiver. She placed the shaft of four arrows in her mouth and the fifth arrow on her bow.
As her horse reached the bottom and plunged through the trees, she saw him—a man being set upon by a pack of hungry wolves. With lightning speed, Kassandra let five arrows fly from her bow, one after the other. Three wolves died within seconds as the iron arrow tips pierced through their lungs and heart.
Kassandra brought her horse to an abrupt halt and jumped down, a dagger in her hand. One wolf remained. Its teeth were sunk into the man’s thigh, shredding his flesh and dragging his body away. She thrust her armored forearm under the wolf’s head, pulling its teeth away from the man, and drew her dagger across the front of the wolf’s neck, killing it.
The man’s metal helmet was lying on the ground next to him, its brass color gleaming with a raised, red plume. His elaborate armor breastplate had overlapping brass scales decorated with a colorful design. He wore a white shirt, now covered in blood, underneath the breastplate. Although he still had metal greaves on his lower legs, his upper legs were covered in the bites of the hungry wolves, his skin torn away, and his lifeblood quickly draining out of him. The high helmet plume and rich designs on the breastplate signified that this man was not a hoplite, the name the Greeks gave their foot soldiers. Instead, this man was an officer in the Athenian Army.
“Goddess,” the man said weakly, raising his head to focus on Kassandra, “you saved my life. Please, tell me your name so that I might build a temple to honor you. Your face, your beauty would suggest that I am in the presence of the goddess Aphrodite,” he said, staring at her breastplate, the quiver of arrows on her back, her short tunic, belted at the waist, revealing her thighs, her lower legs laced in boots and greaves, and a bloody dagger still clutched in her hand. “But perhaps you are the goddess Artemis, goddess of the hunt and archery.”
He was struggling to remain conscious, life slipping away from him. “Please, goddess, I am Nikias, son of Thales, of Athens. What is your name? I will build a great temple to honor you.”
Kassandra stared down at the man as his eyes closed and his head fell to the side. Her queen would say she should have let the wolves have him or kill him herself. He was a man, a stranger invading their mountains, and to slay such was their way—the way of the Amazons. But Kassandra had not always been an Amazon warrior. The first ten years of her life, she was … Athenian.
Meet Alison Blasdell
Alison is a versatile author who artfully blends genres to create fast-paced, memorable stories, always keeping a woman’s quest for empowerment at the heart of her novels.
As an equestrian with a background in music, martial arts, marksmanship, and a passion for history, Alison often weaves these areas of interest into her novels. She has placed her characters in Bronze Age Britain, Medieval England and Scotland, Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Empire, Ancient Greece, and the US Civil War. However, not wanting to always live in the past, she has blended magical realism into some of her stories. She is also the author of two contemporary spy thriller novels in which her characters face overwhelming adversity and emerge victoriously.
Alison attained a Ph.D. in human physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois. As a professor of physiology and pathophysiology, she taught medical, nursing, and science students for 33 years before retiring. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and three horses in the Midwest on a farm that has been in her family for 175 years.
Connect with Alison
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/alisonblasdell
Sign up for Alison’s Newsletter: https://www.alisonblasdell.com