Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Oracles of Delphi: Who Will Control The Oracle?

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Publication Date: October 15, 2014
Blank Slate Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 324

Series: Althaia of Athens Mystery
Genre: Historical Mystery

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9780989207935-Perfect.inddAll Althaia wants on her trip to Delphi is to fulfill her father’s last wish. Finding the body of a woman in the Sacred Precinct is not in her plans. Neither is getting involved in the search for the killer, falling for the son of a famous priestess, or getting pulled into the ancient struggle for control of the two most powerful oracles in the world. But that’s what happens when Theron, Althaia's tutor and a man with a reputation for finding the truth, is asked to investigate. When a priest hints that Theron himself may be involved, Althaia is certain the old man is crazy — until Nikos, son of a famous priestess, arrives with an urgent message. Theron's past, greedy priests, paranoid priestesses, prophecies, and stolen treasures complicate the investigation, and as Althaia falls for Nikos, whose dangerous secrets hold the key to the young woman’s death, she discovers that love often comes at a high price and that the true meaning of family is more than a bond of blood.


I've read previous books about the Oracle of Delphi in both fiction and non-fiction.  So I was aware that  according to legend it was a site sacred to the Earth Goddess Gaia that was taken over by the Sun God Apollo. I did find one scholar who apparently thinks that this myth shouldn't be taken literally.  Her name is Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood and she wrote in a 1999 article called "Myth As History: The Previous Owners of the Delphic Oracle" that this legend represents a symbolic defeat of dark chthonic (underworld) forces by Apollo.  She states that Delphi wasn't an active sacred site during the Mycenaean period.  I only read a summary of this article, so perhaps Sourvinou-Inwood cited archaeological evidence for her argument and perhaps she neglected to do so.  Not being an authority on ancient Greece myself, I have no way of evaluating her scholarship.

  I have never previously read a novel taking place in the transition period when there was a Gaia Pythia and an Apollo Pythia present in Delphi's Sacred Precinct with the priests and priestesses opposed to one another. I would have thought that a conflict of that nature would have taken place much earlier than the 4th century BCE which is when the events of Oracles of Delphi occurred. Sites that I have consulted online place the transition during the mythic "archaic era".  The only one that I could find which gave specific dates when it may have happened was Pagaian Cosmology which is a website belonging to Australian feminist scholar Glenys Livingstone who states that the transition would have occurred between the 11th and 9th centuries B.C.E. if not earlier.   I would certainly have imagined that this conflict had already been resolved by the 5th century B.C.E. Golden Age of Athens when Socrates taught his students to ask uncomfortable questions.  Yet let us suppose that this struggle between the priestesses of Gaia and the priests of Apollo was taking place when Alexander the Great's father, Phillip, ruled in Macedon as Marie Savage contends in this novel.  I am certainly willing to entertain such a premise for the sake of a good story.

The main advantage of setting this story that late is that there can be a central character who has received some fairly scientific oriented training from a priest of Amun-Ra in Egypt.  I should mention that Althaia would definitely have been a pioneer of these techniques in ancient Greece.  The earliest Greek anatomist that I found online is Herophilos who dissected cadavers in Alexandria, but he was born some twenty years after The Oracles of Delphi took place.  I find this credible because, as a woman, Althaia would always keep a low profile about doing autopsies. She knew that it wasn't acceptable for an Athenian woman to have such skills.  So she wouldn't have been part of the historical record.

I really liked Althaia, her mentor Theron and both her slaves.  They were all sympathetic while also having some degree of complexity.   Yet I was struck by how many of the characters who lived in Delphi were actively engaged in criminal activities.  It was as if the nature of  Delphi as a place where people went for assistance and advice encouraged the convergence of thieves and confidence men prepared to take  advantage of them.  There were also many valuable objects within the Sacred Precinct that seemed to invite theft.  Sincere and honest people seemed relatively scarce in what was supposed to be a spiritual environment.  This meant that Althaia and Theron's investigations had no shortage of suspects. 

There was an element of romance in this novel. The sentimental side of me was pleased by the thoroughly HEA ending, but the realistic side of me wondered how HEA could last for Althaia in particular given her circumstances.  I imagine that the author is setting her up for continuing conflict in her personal life in future books of the series.

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About the Author

02_Marie Savage_Author PhotoMarie Savage is the pen name of Kristina Marie Blank Makansi who always wanted to be a Savage (her grandmother’s maiden name) rather than a Blank. She is co-founder and publisher of Blank Slate Press, an award-winning small press in St. Louis, and founder of Treehouse Author Services. Books she has published and/or edited have been recognized by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), the Beverly Hills Book Awards, the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction, the British Kitchie awards, and others. She serves on the board of the Missouri Center for the Book and the Missouri Writers Guild. Along with her two daughters, she has authored The Sowing and The Reaping (Oct. 2014), the first two books of a young adult, science fiction trilogy. Oracles of Delphi, is her first solo novel.

For more information visit Kristina Makansi's website and the Blank Slate Press website. You can also follow Krisina Makansi and Blank Slate Press on Twitter.

Oracles of Delphi Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 8
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, December 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Wednesday, December 10
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 11
Interview at The Maiden's Court
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, December 15
Review at Book Nerd

Tuesday, December 16
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, December 18
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Monday, December 22
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, December 23
Review at Book Babe

Monday, December 29
Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, December 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Book Binder's Daughter

Thursday, January 1
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Friday, January 2
Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views

Monday, January 5
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, January 6
Review at Book Drunkard

Wednesday, January 7
Review at bookramblings
Review & Giveaway at Brooke Blogs
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, January 9
Review at Book Dilettante

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