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From the battlements Briseis saw her husband and her beloved brothers die. Her palace was sacked, her people carried off into slavery, while she herself became the prize of the leader, Prince Achilles. Then passion intervened and the chains of love bound the slave to her master, as Achilles lost his heart to the beautiful Briseis. When Troy fell, Achilles promised, he would take his beloved home and marry her. There she would reign at his side as queen of Thessaly. Alas, the gods decreed otherwise. Jealous King Agamemnon stole her away, and Achilles in his fury swore to fight no more.

The storm hammered on the ruins, its lightning flashes through the chinks showing that she was indeed ancient—her face a wasteland of cruel wrinkles, her hands twisted like knotted cords, white cobwebs of hair about her shoulders. Yet, she was still tall.

I wondered how she had seemed in her youth, before time flattened her dugs. In the flicker of the fire I tried to replace the lost flesh, smooth out the wrinkles, straighten the joints. Her eyes were dark, so I imagined her hair black. Long and shining. She did not bear herself like a slave nor speak like one.

Once, certainly, she had been young. Well, seeing from afar is not knowing. Tell me of those men! Or tell me of yourself. Had you a husband? Did you bear no sons to ease your old age? It was a thoughtless query, for gory Ares had sent many goodly men to the halls of Hades in her lifetime.

No sons. She bared her gums in a Gorgonian leer. Many men have entered me, but none ever emerged. Lovers aplenty…Nay, one love and many men. But enough man-juice to water all the Argolid never quickened my womb. Does the thought disgust you? No, no! I said hastily. The maiden who cannot inflame men must be a fearful hag, and I do not believe you were that. You have a nobility of speech that tells me you were not the child of a swineherd.

Ah, you seek to turn my head with flattery. She went back to stirring the crock in the fire. It must have been a lifetime since she had smelled flattery, and no perfume is cheaper. Grandmother, you have not always dwelt in such humble surroundings. Deny that once you ate off gold in palaces and adorned the bed of a noble warrior. She cackled. That is more true than you would believe, stranger. Hordes of great warriors have struggled to subdue my frail flesh, thrusting their spears into it until they were exhausted, and yet I always survived to vanquish the next.

King Theseus of olden times never laid low so many heroes as I. Were I to tell you the truth of it, you would suppose my wits to be as wasted as my womb. As Father Zeus is my witness, I swear I shall not doubt a word you tell me. Come, then, I coaxed, was it Orestes himself? The mother-slayer?

Aye, he was one, although so drunk he thought I was a man and treated me as such. I doubt he remembered by morning. He did, and just for killing his father! She cut down her husband when he returned from the Trojan War. I would not blame her for that. Agamemnon was a boor. I laughed. Oh, come, my lady! You do not expect me to believe that you knew Agamemnon, king of men? Her stick rattled angrily in the pot. Thunder roared directly overhead, shaking a shower of plaster from the looming ceiling. I flinched, as well I might.

Here I vowed to the Lord of Storms that I would believe everything you said and then at once foreswear myself. Tell me, and I shall not doubt. You knew the son of Atreus? I knew him, she mumbled. She twisted around painfully to grope for another pot.

Two sons of Atreus—Agamemnon, king of men, and red-haired Menelaus, lord of Sparta. I knew them both. They shared a royal gift for getting into trouble over women. Wrapping a hand in her rags, she lifted the crock from the fire and pushed it a small way across the floor in my direction. She laid an empty bowl beside it. I cried. Those times shall live forever!

The bards sing wondrous tales of the great heroes who went to Troy. Their deeds will never be forgotten while the wind blows, the great days before the palaces burned. Menelaus and Agamemnon, Diomedes and Ajax, the ingenious Odysseus—glorious heroes all! You knew these giants? When she did not answer, I reached for my supper. I first took out a mouthful on the stick and tossed it into the embers for the gods.

Then I tipped out a fair share into the bowl for the old woman—not a half, certainly, but a good third. Suddenly her voice rang out louder than I had yet heard it, lit by a scorn I could not have expected. They were but men who ate and pissed and slept as you do, who fornicated as you would like to.

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Do not believe all that the bards sing, young man! I have heard those songs myself; they summon ghosts to Troy, heroes dead for centuries raised up to fight in battles they never knew. Do they mourn for Troy, the great city laid waste? Do they count the slain or the wretched captives? They sing of heroism and glory and forget the pain, the shame, the suffering.

You have been listening to the bards, boy. There were never a thousand ships. That would mean fifty thousand men, and who would feed them? Nor did the struggle last ten years, although it may have seemed that long to some of the wretches who had to fight in it. Oh, I muttered, chastened. And you say that Agamemnon and the rest were not giants, not great heroes?

I say that the bards sing only of triumph. They do not tell you that Agamemnon almost lost the war. She mumbled angrily and reached for her supper, snatching the hot food from the pot with her gnarled fingers and mashing it with her gums. There was another we have not mentioned, I said. The greatest of them all—Achilles, sacker of cities and more than human, for his mother was a goddess…or is that an exaggeration also? I cringed back with my former mockery bitter in my throat.

No, little man. The son of Peleus was more than all of the rest of them put together. There has never been a hero like Achilles, nor will be again. To see Achilles was to look upon a god. You speak marvels in my ear! The storm still rages, and we have a long night ahead of us, lady. Take pity on a young man born in times so much less than yours, for there are no such heroes now.

I shall never see men worthy to tread on their shadows, so tell me what manner of people they were. It is not the whole truth. Even the sons of Atreus could not raise all that much trouble over a woman. But that tale will serve. She sighed and settled herself upon her leprous bedding. Her voice came again as a whisper, hardly audible over the wail of the wind and the babble of rain. They sailed to Troy. They ravaged many lesser cities first, gathering chariots and horses, before closing in on Troy itself.


None sacked more fair towns than Achilles and his Myrmidons. I knew Achilles, little man. Truly a great spearman! She sighed deeply. Even mother-naked, he was a great spearman! You ask if I bedded with a warrior? I tell you I bedded the greatest of them all. Listen, and I will tell you how it was at Troy.

Consort, indeed? Agamemnon raised his shaggy brows. His followers laughed. How fortunate you are! And how fortunate he is to have won so glorious a prize. A chance meeting? Just a casual word spoken after a funeral? Nay, it was the gods themselves who brought about that slight encounter, for it was to bring much sorrow and the deaths of many splendid young men.

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I knew Agamemnon by sight, of course, as I knew all the leaders of the Greeks; he did not know me. He had seen me once, but he did not recall that first encounter, because it had been so arranged. He was not to forget this one. Pestilence had struck the army camped before Troy. For days the deadly arrows of Smintheus, whom the Greeks call Apollo, had been striking down both pack beasts and men, noble and commoner alike, causing balefires to blaze day and night.

Unlike Trojans, the Greeks would rather bury their dead than burn them, but they refused to lay their comrades in foreign soil, nor could their spades have kept pace with the awful toll. It was as he was returning from lighting a funeral pyre that Agamemnon first knowingly set eyes on me. Surely great Zeus himself decreed that inauspicious meeting. I had left the camp and was on my way to sacrifice to the Mistress of Winds, whose altar stood on the hill south of the bay. I had suggested this to Achilles that morning, explaining that the Lady frequently granted relief from sickness. Although she was not a goddess known in Thessaly, he had agreed that I should go to her, because all gods must be honored and it might be that she was angry at being neglected.

He had ransacked his storeroom and found a vial of rare perfumed oil for me to take. I was not alone, of course.

Daughter of Troy: A Magnificent Saga of Courage, Betrayal, Devotion, and Destiny Book

I had an armed escort and a following of fifty or sixty women, all bearing loads of laundry on their heads and many accompanied by children. We would our way south from the camp, glad of any excuse to leave its confines for a while. Truth be told, I had very little to do by day during those months I spent at Troy. At night I was certainly kept busy enough—most enjoyably so—but by day I sometimes found the shadows turning slowly. Being the lady of a great sacker of cities had much to commend it, especially in the choice of wardrobe.

In ten years, I could not have exhausted the riches there. When I had thoroughly explored one box, I would ask Patroclus or even Achilles himself to lift down another. They laughed at me for treating them like porters, but they would always oblige, just to demonstrate their strength and win a kiss of thanks. To honor the goddess I had dressed in the finest garment I could find—a gown of wool fine as gossamer, woven in red and gold and sea purple, with a wide flounced skirt, short sleeves, and a tight bodice that left my breasts uncovered in courtly style.

Old Maera anointed me with oil and scents and arranged my raven hair in trailing ringlets. She helped me into the gown and set gilded shoes of soft calf leather on my feet. Scorning gold and silver as too showy for such an occasion, I looped four strings of rock-crystal beads around my neck and laid a fine veil over my head. Hanging a fleecy cloak upon my shoulders as protection from the inevitable wind, I strode forth with Maera shuffling at my heels. The women were waiting for me, bantering with grinning spearmen, who at once lost all interest in them and turned to gape at me with flattering amazement.

If their reactions were typical, it would be an interesting outing. Although Patroclus admitted the Trojans were well locked up within their walls, he always insisted on providing an escort, and that day the leader leaning on his spear aloof from the rest was his own charioteer, Alcimus son of Polyctor. Alcimus was the palest person I ever met, with milk-white hair and baby skin, and in consequence he looked like a child. He never smiled, although he sometimes pulled back his lips to display his teeth, and then he looked like a corpse.

He was good at killing Trojans; but I never liked him, and the men feared him. With no more greeting than a cold stare, he led the way southward along the beach where the ships lay, the older children running ahead of us and the youngsters clinging to their mothers.

Horses grazed among the tents and huts of the army to our right, while eastward lay the silver-shining bay with the plain beyond and Troy itself, the towered citadel on its hill. The day seemed perfect, yielding no hint of the evil it was to bring. In places it had been built up with heaps of brushwood, and in others it was still swamp—impassable for chariots and not exactly a convenient road for walking in gilded shoes but a practical shortcut. The alternative was to go around the marsh by the chariot trail, but that was longer. Halfway along this trail, we saw a band of men approaching, led by the Great King himself.

I had no especial fear of Agamemnon and no great wish to meet him either. He was attended by four of the most senior Greek leaders—on his right his brother, red-haired Menelaus; on his left Odysseus, king of Ithaca; with Achilles and the Greater Ajax following behind them, those two towering over everyone else. At their backs came fifty or so lesser men, although most would have seemed outstanding in any other company.

They were variously clad in kilts or tunics or breeches, but every man wore bronze greaves on his shins. Sunlight gleamed on their oiled limbs and clean-shaven faces; the breeze played with their long, trailing hair. Achilles was declaiming so vehemently about something that he did not notice us, but Agamemnon did.

Where his brother was ruddy and Achilles gold, the king was swarthy. Take away the gold-studded scepter he bore, the rich purple tunic with its gold beadwork, the jewelry adorning his neck and arms, and a stranger would still have known him at once for the Great King. His shadowed eyes fixed on me at a distance. Alcimus selected a tussocky patch of land, a tiny island, and ordered us to stand clear of the path so the Great King could pass.

I sank to my knees and the other women copied me. The men raised spears in salute. I saw that Agamemnon had noticed me, and more than my attire had caught his eye. I was then in the fullness of high-breasted youth and as tall as any of the spearmen. My lips were wide and so red that I rarely painted them; as were my nipples and aureoles. My hair was as black and shiny as jet.

Any true man would notice me. The Great King halted. They all halted. Achilles stopped talking. I expected him to smile at me as he usually did, but he merely looked me over and nodded as if approving my choice of jewels. Agamemnon gestured for me to rise, so I rose and let them all admire me from a new angle. No one would speak before the Overlord did, but there was much nudging and pursing of lips going on. Achilles would be pleased. Like any successful warrior, he welcomed a chance to display the fine bedmate and other treasures he had won with his spear.

I had absolutely no desire to change my station and no fear that Agamemnon would dare even suggest such a thing. I proclaimed my name and that of my lord proudly. The dark eyes glittered. He glanced inquiringly at Achilles. He was a hairy man, with matted arms and a black hedge at the neck of his tunic; for a moment he seemed like a stuffed bear as he stood there, pondering.

Achilles was hairy, too, but the sunlight turned the red-gold haze on his great chest and arms to flame, making him glow like an Immortal. I do not recall seeing this goddess at Lyrnessos. Agamemnon chuckled majestically and strode off without another word, the rest hastening after. Their messengers were betrayed or ensnared. A rampaging goblin army had captured Shandie and was about to torture him to death. Rap was mired in a tropical jungle, hoping his wife and children were safe back home in Krasnegar.

They were not in Krasnegar and certainly not safe. As the flames of war raged across Pandemia, news of the disasters penetrated even into Thume, the Accursed Land. Outsiders believed that the pixies had been extinct for a thousand years, but they still lived there, hoarding their magic. Their ruler, the Keeper, adamantly refused to meddle in events outside her borders, but one young pixie girl was prepared to rebel against the ancient order.

The Last Wish: Introducing the Witcher. Geralt the Witcher -- revered and hated -- holds the line against the monsters plaguing humanity in this collection of adventures in the NYT bestselling series that inspired the blockbuster video games. Geralt is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good Andrzej Sapkowski, winner of the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement award, started an international phenomenon with his Witcher series.

The Last Wish short story collection is the perfect introduction to this one of a kind fantasy world. The Cutting Edge. For fifteen years, Queen Inos and King Rap—the former stable boy and secret sorcerer—have ruled Krasnegar wisely and happily, raising a family and prospering in their remote little kingdom. But a darkness is encroaching, foreshadowed by prophecies of unimagined cataclysms across Pandemia. His grandfather, the aged imperor himself, continues to behave more erratically and tyrannically with each passing hour.

Once upon a time, a young sorcerer made an error, an error that now threatens to nullify the Protocol, the treaty that has controlled the use of magic for a millennium. Without the Protocol, the realm will fall into chaos and certain destruction—unless Rap embarks on a dangerous quest to right his long ago wrong. Outlander: A Novel. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.

Scottish Highlands, Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart.

Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives. Ill Met in the Arena. Dave Duncan.

In Aureity, noblemen battle in the arena circuit, using their powers of teleportation and telekinesis to prove their breeding and strength. The prizes at play are not only silver and bronze but also the chance to rise amongst the nobility and mate with the ruling class of women. Older than most players, Quirt still manages to draw attention and awe through his mastery of the games. Some of that attention comes from Humate, a brash young competitor with unbelievable power and little patience or control.

However, that mystery soon proves much bigger than all of them. The Time of Contempt. Book 2. To protect his ward, Ciri, Geralt of Rivia sends her away from the home of the Witchers to train with the sorceress Yennefer. But all is not well within the Wizard's Guild in the second book of the NYT bestselling series that inspired the blockbuster video games.

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Geralt is a witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender, in dark times, against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend. His task, now, is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill -- but only if she lives to use it.

Emperor and Clown. With Inos married to the wrong man and Rap dying in a dungeon, obviously the cause is hopeless. Only Aunt Kade refuses to admit defeat. Baptism of Fire. A deadly coup within the Wizard's Guild leaves the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, gravely injured, and his ward Ciri missing in the third book of the NYT bestselling series that inspired the blockbuster video games.

The Wizards Guild has been shattered by a coup and, in the uproar, Geralt was seriously injured. The Witcher is supposed to be a guardian of the innocent, a protector of those in need, a defender against powerful and dangerous monsters that prey on men in dark times. But now that dark times have fallen upon the world, Geralt is helpless until he has recovered from his injuries. While war rages across all of the lands, the future of magic is under threat and those sorcerers who survive are determined to protect it.

It's an impossible situation in which to find one girl -- Ciri, the heiress to the throne of Cintra -- until a rumor places her in the Niflgaard court, preparing to marry the Emperor. Injured or not, Geralt has a rescue mission on his hands. Faery Lands Forlorn. When Inos was abducted through the magic casement and Rap tried to follow her, they arrived in places very strange—and very far apart. The Way of Shadows. From NYT bestselling author Brent Weeks comes the first novel in his breakout fantasy trilogy in which a young boy trains under the city's most legendary and feared assassin, Durzo Blint.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art--and he is the city's most accomplished artist. For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly--and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint. But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics--and cultivate a flair for death.

Devour this blockbuster tale of assassination and magic by Brent Weeks, which has delighted readers all over the world--with over one million copies in print! Lord of the Fire Lands. Raider and Wasp have spent five years at Ironhall studying to become Blades, expert swordsmen whose talents stand unmatched. But when Raider and Wasp are selected to protect the king of Chivial himself, they refuse, an act unprecedented in the living history of the Blades.

Engaging and complex, it may be enjoyed as a standalone novel or in combination with the rest of the trilogy. Either way, readers are in for a smart, thrilling adventure that cuts like a knife. Dragonfly in Amber: A Novel. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander. For twenty years, Claire Randall has kept her secrets.

Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as shocking as the events that gave it birth: the secret of an ancient circle of standing stones, the secret of a love that transcends centuries, and the truth of a man named Jamie Fraser—a Highland warrior whose gallantry once drew the young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his. The pages practically turn themselves. A powerful tale layered in history and myth. I loved every page. Upland Outlaws.

The old imperor was dead at last. His popular soldier grandson, known as Shandie, had succeeded him. Had he not? No, he had not. The man who sat on the opal throne was not Shandie, but an illusion created by the mad dwarf Xinixo. Year after year, he had stealthily been ensorcelling sorcerers, turning them into loyal minions. Now, wielding their combined power, he was irresistible. He ruled the Impire, so he ruled the world. He would continue to rule it for centuries. Anyone who knew the truth or opposed him in any way, he would destroy or enslave.

That especially included his old enemy, King Rap of Krasnegar, Shandie, the rightful imperor, and all their supporters, their friends, their families. All of them! First he had to catch them. With his infinite magic, that ought to be easy. Rap and Shandie had other ideas, but even they could see that their cause looked hopeless. Perilous Seas. The epic fantasy adventure of Queen Inos continues as she is pursued by powerful warlocks, all the while convinced her beloved servant, Rap, is dead. She thought he was dead. Her duty is to serve her people, and Queen Inos does not know her galley slave, Rap, is alive and, with his magic wand, trying to bring happiness to his beloved queen.

The Blood Mirror. When does an empire fall? The Seven Satrapies have collapsed into four-and those are falling before the White King's armies. Gavin Guile, ex-emperor, ex-Prism, ex-galley slave, formerly the one man who might have averted war, is now lost, broken, and trapped in a prison crafted by his own hands to hold a great magical genius. But Gavin has no magic at all. Worse, in this prison, Gavin may not be alone. Kip Guile will make a last, desperate attempt to stop the White King's growing horde.

Karris White attempts to knit together an empire falling apart, helped only by her murderous and possibly treasonous father-in-law Andross Guile. Meanwhile, Teia's new talents will find a darker use-and the cost might be too much to bear. Together, they will fight to prevent a tainted empire from becoming something even worse. Devour this epic fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author of the Night Angel trilogy.

There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season. Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances.

All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms. Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys. A Rose-Red City.

The city of Mera is a fortress hidden from the rest of humanity, a sanctuary for the diverse group of people rescued from death by the Oracle that rules the city.

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The Oracle has brought together the citizens of Mera from every land and every time period, protecting them from the ravages of time, death, and the evil demon forces that howl outside the city at night. All that the Oracle asks in return is a willingness to aid the rest of humanity, calling the citizens to go forth on various missions of rescue to mortals in need of aid. There they must rescue a woman named Ariadne, on the run with her children and seeking shelter.

Shadow's Edge. Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin's life. The Godking's successful coup has left Kylar's master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession. But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit? The Hunters' Haunt.

The wrong tale at the wrong time told to the wrong audience can prove fatal. A slighted innkeeper threatens to kill Omar by tossing him out into the vicious storm that rages just outside the door of the inn.