The priestess and the slave by Jenny Blackford
Hadley Rille Books, 2009. ISBN 9780981924311
(Ages 14+) A fascinating novel set in Ancient Greece, The Priestess and the Slave tells two parallel stories of a Delphi Pythia and a young slave woman with incredible historical and archaeological accuracy. It is clearly written by an author who not only specialises in ancient history, but has a passion for telling the stories of those who lived in such times.
The novel moves between the lives of two women living in very different circumstances. Harmonia is a young slave girl whose kind and caring nature is reflected in the respectful manner she is treated by her master and mistress. Harmonia's story is set against a backdrop of tragedy and sadness as the terrible plague of Athens sweeps through her family.
Thrasulla is a Pythia who prophesies for Apollo. Her story unfolds amidst the corruption of man as one of her fellow Pythia accepts a bribe from a mad king. Thrasulla is reflective of her life before becoming a Pythia, and her life experiences guide her through the trials of priesthood.
These two emotionally moving tales give a glimpse at what life was like during ancient times, from the perspective of two quietly courageous women. It is written with such detail and accuracy that it is easy to see history through the eyes of those who lived it. Whilst being a short book, the themes are mature in nature and discerning readers will ponder the themes of survival, corruption and human nature. This is a highly recommended book for those who are interested in or studying Ancient Greece and gives a touching view of life in ancient times.