I won’t bore you with my introduction other than to say IT. IS. HERE. The first chapter of Blood of Troy, sequel to Daughter of Sparta, is here for your reading pleasure! Go forth, my beautiful readers! Read on!
Spartans are made of metal and fire. Their every instinct, every drive is solely focused on war and protecting their kingdom at all costs. They value nothing more than victory.
Where once I aspired to such greatness, now I have tasted its folly, for I have experienced death in ways no other Spartan has.
I try to remind myself of this fact as Paidonomos Leonidas marches up and down the line of Spartiates, my kingdom’s most elite warriors. We’re being paired up for practice. A frown furrows my brow. I, along with the other women and Mothakes—outsiders with no prospects—were forced into our own line. The Spartiates are being handed the prime weapons, while down my own line, our swords and spears are on the verge of crumbling in our palms.
The paidonomos stops before me, his face as unreadable as ever. His hands are fisted at his sides, shoulders ever so slightly hunched. “No weapons for you, Diodorus,” he says before pointing to a familiar head of curly black hair in the other line. “You’ve spent too much time behind a shield. It makes for a rusted blade.”
Without needing further direction, Lykou and I march to a corner of the arena, taking up our fighting stances. Last summer we sparred in similar positions, twirling spears around raging bonfires and dancing around unsaid feelings.
My friend chuckles. “This feels painfully familiar, doesn’t it?”
“Because we we’re always paired up?” I return his laugh. “I’m sure it will feel painfully familiar as I’m swiping your legs from beneath you.”
Soon I’m eating my words as, head over heels, I’m flung across the grass.
I soar across the depths of Tartarus once more. The scent of seawater fills my nose, ruby eyes swarming my vision. All my training on how to brace for such a landing flees my mind and I land hard enough to steal the air from my lungs. Aching, I climb to my feet. I don’t miss Paidonomos Leonidas shaking his head in disappointment, nor the confused glances of the other Spartans who are sparring around us.
Lykou doesn’t give me a chance to catch my breath. He charges me and I have only a moment to dance from his reach. I could have grabbed him by the arm and used his own speed against him. I could have even tripped him. Yet my head is so clouded that all I can think to do is dodge his attacks.
Lykou holds nothing back as he clips me in the jaw. I barely remain on my feet.
Images of Nyx standing above me flicker in and out of my vision. Her claws dig deep into my spine.
I don’t duck in time to avoid my friend’s next swing. A fist catches my temple.
“I’m going to enjoy ripping you apart.” Nyx drags me to my feet and slams her forehead into mine. “And then, when I’m finished, I’m going to find your brothers and do the same to them.”
The stadium spins. The memory of Nyx’s assault is so fresh the stars still flash behind my eyes. I raise my arms to block Lykou’s punches, gritting my teeth. His knuckles dig so deep that my bones sing.
The paidonomos’s barked order is sharp enough to stop all movement across the gymnasion. When Leonidas addresses Lykou, the others reluctantly continue their brawls.
“Leave us, son of Xanthippos,” he says, nodding to my friend.
Breathing ragged, Lykou takes a step back and bows low for the Spartan general before turning on his heel.
“You know the rules of the arena as much as any, Daphne Diodorus.” His voice is stern, but not angry. I cannot meet his too-knowing gaze. He points to the entrance. “The moment you step beneath that archway, you leave your personal feelings behind. You are not to be weighed down by trivial concerns or familial worries when training here. That is the surest way to get injured.”
The bruises already forming on my arms affirm as much. “Yes, sir.”
Paidonomos Leonidas grabs me by the shoulder, forcing me to turn toward the other sparring matches. Waving an arm to them, he says, “You earned their respect last year when you won the race. You brought our kingdom a year of wonderful harvest and fortuitous alliances. I would hate to see you lose that respect.”
Gritting my teeth, I nod.
“Now go and choose a weapon.” He claps me on the back. “Not a spear. With your head in the clouds, you’ll knock out your own teeth before the end of the day. Pick a weapon that will distract us both.”
Leaving him, I press through the crowd of sweaty Spartans toward the row of gleaming swords. Shame threatens to overwhelm me as I pass the line of sparring warriors. I should be practicing, fighting among them. I’ve let Nyx haunt me for long enough.
I hardly notice the hand latched around my wrist until my arm is nearly ripped from its socket.
“What happened back there?” Lykou demands, spinning me around.
“Nothing.” I yank my hand away and cross my arms.
People watch us from around the stadium. When I glare in their direction, they quickly turn to their weapons and opponents. Their eavesdropping couldn’t be more obvious.
My friend’s dark eyes narrow. “Don’t lie to me, Daphne. I deserve better than that.”
He does deserve better than my hedging. His handsome face is pulled into harsh lines. I can almost still see the wolf in his features.
With the gods waiting at all times to drag me again into their games, every moment I spend with Lykou is another chance for them to ensnare him as well.
“Truly,” I lie, unflinching as I hold his gaze, “I didn’t sleep well last night.”
My words sound wooden and forced even to my own ears. Lykou steps close, dropping his voice.
“This has to do with them, doesn’t it?” His eyes are imploring. “Apollo turned me into a wolf for the entire summer, Artemis turned your brother into a deer. You died, Daphne. You actually died to fix their mistakes.”
How could I forget? The memory of that death haunts me. The emptiness, weightlessness of my body as I fell through space and time, even if it was only for the barest of moments, jerks me awake every night.
All for them.
The gods are reckless with their power. Last summer, when they commanded me to find answers, I didn’t trust them, especially not Apollo, who was sent on the mission alongside me. But something precious was stolen from them, and they needed me to learn where it was hidden.
These stolen items were the Muses. And as the caretakers of the Garden of the Hesperides, the power of Olympus became a wild rampant thing with them missing.
One by one, I brought the Muses back to Olympus, and the power of the gods returned.
But not before I faced down the Muses’ kidnappers—the gods Ares, Hermes, and Nyx.
The last claimed my life. I struck her down with one of Artemis’s arrows. Yet like me, she eluded true death.
The gods have no idea where she is. Nyx could come after the Muses, or me, at any time.
“It’s not that simple,” I say to Lykou, raising my chin. “The gods own me.”
I swore myself to Zeus as protector of Olympus. When the gods need me, I am at their disposal, and with Nyx still very much alive, that time might come sooner than I like.
Lykou reaches for me again, this time to brush a lock of hair from my face. His voice is soft, coaxing. “The Daphne I knew was beholden to no one, even the people who love her the most.”
I cannot take the disappointment clouding his face. “The Daphne you knew died.”
There is no lie in my words.
I don’t look at Lykou again, marching for the racks of weapons.
I stumble as I reach the row of blunted swords. Not because of them, but instead because of the goddess of the hunt lurking in the shadows of the gymnasion’s entrance.
Artemis winks and crooks a finger to me.
The gods are finally calling in my blood debt.
The sequel to Daughter of Sparta thrusts warrior Daphne and her love interest, the Olympian god Apollo, into the middle of the Trojan War in this epic YA fantasy reimagining of Greek mythology.
A year after saving the powers of Olympus by defeating Nyx, the Goddess of Darkness, Daphne is haunted by still-looming threats, her complicated feelings for the god Apollo, and the promise she made to the Olympian gods that she would help them again when they called upon her. When their command finally comes, it is deceptively simple: secure herself a spot as one of Queen Helen’s guards.
A war is coming, and all of Sparta must be prepared.
In the midst of a treaty summit among the monarchs of Greece, Daphne and Helen uncover a plot of betrayal—and soon, a battle begins that leads to all-out war. As the kingdoms of Greece clash on the shores of Troy and the gods choose sides, Daphne must use her wits, her training, and her precarious relationship with Apollo to find a way to keep her queen safe, stop the war, and uncover the true reason the gods led her to Troy. But the gods are keeping more than one secret, and Daphne will be forced to decide how far she is willing to go to save those she loves—and whose side she’s on in a war that is prophesized to be the downfall of her people.
Claire M. Andrews continues to turn Greek mythology on its head in this thrilling sequel that centers a female protagonist in a land ruled by powerful men and gods alike, filled with exhilarating action, unforgettable romance, and a destiny that could destroy the world.