Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shadow of Colossus (Seven Wonders Novel) by T.L. Higley

B&H Publishing Group, Published 2008, ISBN 978-0-9-54-4730-9, 278 pages

The Shadow of Colossus is set on the Island of Rhodes, 227 BC, during the seven days prior to the great earthquake that brought the enormous statute of Colossus to its knees in the aftermath.

The protagonists in this historical novel are Tessa, a hetera (courtesan) to the wealthy politician, Glaucus, who holds considerable sway in Rhode's politics.  Glaucus is an cruel man, who abuses both Tessa and Persephone, his daughter.  When Glaucus dies in an unfortunate accident, Tessa sees a way to escape her destiny.

It has been 10 years since her mother sold her to the madam and, to maintain her sanity, she has repressed all emotions, desires and hopes.  In essence, she is a woman of stone, devoid of feelings.

Hetera are leased from a madam and, if the hetera is particularly desirable, men pay a price to wait in line to acquire her.  Tessa realizes that, once it is discovered Glaucus is dead, she will be given to the next highest bidder.  She is desperate to escape her destiny and contemplates suicide; however; her hunger to live in freedom proves stronger.

On a night she returns home after spending hours contemplating "opening her wrists", she is attacked in the street by a man.  Along comes the other protagonist, Nikos, who saves her from violation.  Nikos is on Rhodes in the guise of a dockworker.  After he rescues her, she hires him as a servant in Glaucus's household.

A political battle rages on Rhodes.  It is one of the last democracies in the Greek Islands, but there is one man, Spiros, who would have it different.  He is determined to become sole ruler of Rhodes and sets in motion events intended to sway the major politicians to his point of view.  He will stoop as low as murder to accomplish his aims.

Spiros is the next man in line to own Tessa.

Glaucus and Tessa are scheduled to leave in one week to travel to Crete to attend a symposium on membership in the Achaean League.  Tessa is an intelligent woman who Glaucus relied upon for astute political  opinions.  She has often spoken in his place.  If she can masquerade as Glaucus's "voice" until the ship leaves for Crete, freedom will be hers when she boards the ship.  Her accomplices in this scheme are Nikos and an elderly Jewish servant, Simeon.

The frequent use of italics for characters' thoughts were distracting and, quite frankly, drove me nuts.  I personally feel heavy use of italics indicates an author does not trust the reader to have enough intelligence to grasp concepts.  One could read just the italics in this novel and understand the entire plot and characters.

Within the first chapter of this historical fiction novel, I felt fairly certain how the book would end.  There was one plot twist within the novel and it was not one to make you gasp.  This was an entirely predictable and unsatisfying read.  I had no investment in the cardboard stereotypical characters.

With apologies to Harlequin Romances fans, this book would be more suitable for that genre than historical fiction.  I could not suspend disbelief to embrace that a "woman of marble" could melt in 7 days to a woman of faith, love and desires.

Unfortunately, this historical novel is not one I would recommend.

Rating:  1 star * (Poor)

Note:  Book was read in e-book format.

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