- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (1 Feb. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765303957
- ISBN-13: 978-0765303950
- Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.9 x 21.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,187,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Queen of the Amazons Hardcover – 1 Feb 2004
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Back up. OK, the book starts with the birth of a daughter to Hippolyta, the Queen of the scattered Amazon tribes. It should be a joyous occasion, but something is obviously wrong with the child - she has no soul. Even though the queen accepts this, she makes the child - unnamed, but called "Etta", or "that thing" - her heir anyway, sparking a rebellion led by her niece Phaedra. The first rebellion fails, and Phaedra is sent into exile. Then, Etta happens to hear about a new king in the west who has conquered Persia. The king is Alexander the Great, and Etta, still mindless and soulless but now with a purpose, is seized with a compulsion to find Alexander. Her mother and her guardian, a reluctant Seer named Selene, follow her. When they find Alexander, he is a likable, charismatic, sympathetic man who takes Etta in (rather like a pet). Alexander and Etta's fates are obviously intertwined, and Selene, who stays with his army to protect Etta, must figure out why and how - before the exiled Phaedra tries again to steal Hippolyta's throne.
The twist in this book could have been brilliant - when it first happened, I was thrilled, figuring that NOW the fun would start. But... no. The last 1/3 of the book was barely even readable! Why bother with such a great, original plot twist if you're not going to use it? I admit it, that ticked me off. The only thing worse than a book that's just bad from the beginning is one that really does have promise, and then squanders it.
The characters were OK, if a little sketchily drawn. I would have preferred more depth, particularly in Alexander and Selene, as well as some more detail on the Amazonian life, which was really shortchanged. Steven Pressfield's "Last of the Amazons" did such a great job in that regard that Tarr's depiction of the Amazons seemed watery in comparison. The first part of the book had me hooked, but by the end, I couldn't wait to finish it and move on. A definitely inconsistent effort overall.
The story is told through the eyes of Selene, an Amazonian warrior and seer. Selene is bound to the current Queen's daughter called Etta. Etta is a soulless child. She does not have a spark of life in her. Her actions are instinctive and animal like. One morning, Etta slips away from the encampment on a journey. Selene, Queen Hippolyta, and a group of Amazons follow Etta on what they believe is a Goddess guided journey. Etta is drawn by an unseen force and eventually leads to Alexander the Great, the King of Asia. Selene, Queen Hippolyta, and Etta are forever changed by their exposure to Alexander and his male dominated world.
This epic story has all the lyrical elements of a classic. Love, karma, fate, and political upheaval all come together in a climactic ending sure to be a surprise to the reader. The story transcends the male/female clash and instead focuses on the idea that our souls are genderless.
Judith Tarr is the author of numerous historical fantasies. Lord of the Two Lands is her first book chronicling Alexander.
Alexander is in the midst of his world conquest. Unlike the soulless princess, his soul overflows his body and the princess is attracted to him to the point where the Macedonian warriors call her his dog. The princess seems happy but Selene's visions return and she sees Alexander dying young. What will happen then, expecially when the Queen also dies, is anyone's guess.
Author Judith Tarr brings Alexander, his Macedonian soldiers and his Persian allies to life. Alexander's unquenchable appitite for more--more conquest, more wine, more fame--drives the story. In the hands of a writer as capable as Tarr, this verve and historical detail makes the story worth reading. For me, the book is weakened, however, by Selene's basic lack of a story goal and by the question of why the Goddess felt it necessary to create the soulless princess in the first place. I kept expecting some great deed that could only be accomplished by a princess without a soul--or a princess who had found a soul. But the resolution of the story, although exciting, didn't differ much from what could have been accomplished if the princess had been born with a soul and we'd never gone to visit Alexander in the first place.