Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier


From the author of the New York Times bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.

Ballantine Books | March 2014 | 608 pages (hardcover) | ISBN: 9780345536228

My Review

Anne Fortier's latest novel, The Lost Sisterhood, is a fast-paced adventure that transports the reader between modern day Europe and North Africa, and the classical world of Ancient Greece and Troy.  When Oxford philologist and Amazon enthusiast Diana Morgan is approached by a mysterious stranger and offered the chance to decipher an obscure ancient language, it presents her with an opportunity she can't turn down.  Diana soon finds herself in North Africa studying inscriptions left on an ancient temple that had been buried for centuries, inscriptions that lead Diana to uncover not only the name of the first Amazonian queen, Myrina, but also to trace the origins of the fabled, female-only tribe.   Excited by her discovery, Diana sets off on a quest to trace Myrina and the Amazon's path and, hopefully, unearth the treasure supposedly removed by the Amazons from Troy in the aftermath of the Trojan War.  Diana is joined on her quest by Nick Barran, a perplexing and secretive man employed by the same foundation that hired her.  As Diana and Nick attempt to retrace Myrina's steps and uncover the mythical treasure, it isn't long before they realize that their own movements are also being tracked.   It seems Diana and Nick are not the only ones searching for the treasure, and that their opponents will stop at nothing to keep Diana and Nick from it.

There are many aspects of The Lost Sisterhood that I enjoyed, not the least of which is the novel's heroine, Diana Morgan.  Diana is an intelligent, resourceful,  and curious woman, one who is committed to the truth and advancing knowledge.  Most important to me, however, is that even though she is a fictional character Diana felt very real.  As such, while the quest Diana undertakes is a remarkable one, readers will nevertheless be able to easily relate to Diana herself.   Diana is not the only heroine of this novel, however, as Diana's story is complemented by that of Myrina's.  Like Diana, Myrina is a well-drawn character, and I enjoyed how Fortier used her to convey the story of the Amazons.  Often times when reading novels that feature dual time narratives I find myself strongly drawn to one narrative over the other.   In The Lost Sisterhood, however, I found both Diana and Myrina's story lines to be equally compelling.  Both are quick moving and captivating, and Fortier is able to seamlessly move between the two without interrupting the novel's flow.    

Another strength of The Lost Sisterhood is how Fortier  successfully fuses many aspects of Amazon, Greek and Trojan myth with history, and it is obvious that Fortier undertook a significant amount of research in order to write this novel.  While debate exists as to whether or not the Amazons really did exist, at least in the form depicted by legend, by drawing on this history Fortier makes a compelling case for their existence.  As a result, the Amazons are now a subject I'd like to explore further through non-fiction.  

If you're a fan of adventure novels, books that feature strong heroines, dual-time narratives or books that are set (at least in part) in the classical world, I highly recommend giving The Lost Sisterhood a try.   I can't wait to read what Anne Fortier writes next! 

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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