Review: The Lost Sisterhood

This week, another book review based on a book I won from Goodreads, this time a work of historical fiction.  I’m hoping things calm down enough for a non-review post for next week.

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

Ballentine Books; March 11, 2014.  Hardcover, 608 pages.lostsisterhood

The Lost Sisterhood is a novel where historical facts are mixed with mythology to create a spellbinding story.  Featuring two storylines that collide at the end, the modern one follows Oxford scholar and philologist Diana Morgan who embarks on an archaeological dig where a lost language has been discovered.  However once on site, trouble begins.  First, she has a personality clash with the man in charge, Nick Barrain.  Soon it becomes evident someone does not want the discoveries made public and Diana begins to investigate the origin of the lost language which she believes may belong to the mythological Amazons.  With Nick following and her archaeologist friend, Rebecca, joining they follow the trail of places where objects with the language have been found throughout Europe and Asia Minor.  Along the way, they become entangled in a battle between two groups:  one who wants the discovery made public and one that wants it taken to the grave.

On the ancient storyline, readers follow Myrina.  After a devastation at her village while she was on a hunt, Myrina, a dedicated archer, and her sister, Lilli, travel to the Temple of the Moon Goddess.  Upon arrival, they are met with indifference but soon become initiates.  However, disaster soon strikes again and the women who survive both death and capture embark on a journey led by Myrina to free their captured “sisters.”  This journey takes them to Crete, Mycenae, and Troy and meeting with other historical/mythological figures, most predominately Paris of Troy.  During the course of this journey, the women are depicted in ways that place them directly within Greek myths–not only showing them as Amazons but also as the reason for the Trojan War and Troy’s destruction.

Overall, the story was excellently written.  Fortier, who holds a PhD in ancient history, clearly spent time researching her subject matter and found ways to link dozens of old myths into a believable ancient storyline that also provides the mystery and adventure that drives the modern one.  The modern storyline reminds me strongly of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon books/movies, Nicholas Cage and crew from the National Treasure movies, and the Indiana Jones franchise but with a female protagonist.

Also, note the elegant cover.  In addition to the beauty, it depicts the sand which plays a critical role in the first part of the book and the jackal bracelet shown on what is meant to be Diana’s arm is the “key” to the story.  If I say anymore on that note, I’ll ruin the story 😉

History/Mythology vs. Fiction Breakdown

  • The ancient storyline characters of Myrina, Penthesileia, Hippolyta, Otrera, and Kyme have names and backgrounds based on real Greek myths.  All were known Amazons.
  • All possible origins of the Amazons have been accounted for:  Africa, Asia Minor, and Ukraine.  I can’t explain how without ruining the story.
  • The myths of the Labyrinth and theIlliad (including the entire Trojan War and its origins) have been completely reenvisioned in this novel, as has the destruction of Mycenaean culture.
  • Lilli appears to be the only fully fictional character in the ancient storyline.  However, that said, the way she is depicted makes me wonder if she is intended to be based on the Oracle at Delphi.
  • While the thought of a Moon Goddess makes one think the Temple of the Moon Goddess is meant to be dedicated Artemis (or the Roman Diana), the book makes a compelling argument it may have actually been Athena as the latter may have origins in African myths.
  • Also, note the lead in the modern storyline is given the name Diana, a reference to the mythology and something else readers will learn by the story’s end.
  • Lastly, there is an Amazon in mythology known as Helene.  This character is merged with that of Helen of Troy.

If you decide to read this novel, please let me know what you think.  I was captivated not only with the original storyline, but the reenvisioning of the myths.  In fact, several times I had to look up names and myths to refresh my memory.  Also, let me know if you noticed another myth I may not have.


4 thoughts on “Review: The Lost Sisterhood

  1. I’m about half way thru the book….and loving it….can’t put it down! The only reason I’m even on the internet is because I am NOW in the market for a jackal bracelet! Your blog popped up….I was tickled to see you likened it to Indiana Jones….I was so thinking what a great movie it would make along the same vein as Indiana Jones!

    • I’m glad that you are loving The Lost Sisterhood! And that you also likened the book to Indiana Jones; it’s good to see I wasn’t the only person thinking that! Good luck in your search for a jackal bracelet!

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