Clytemnestra: The Mother’s Blade

Written by Alice Underwood Victoria Grossack
Review by India Edghill

Set firmly in the Bronze Age, this novel once again gives us the eternally re-fought conflict that ensued, when the Greek city-states, led by High King Agamemnon, went to war against Gold-Rich Troy. Over the theft of Agamemnon’s sister-in-law, Helen — or at least so the tale claims. But Agamemnon’s wife and Helen’s sister, Clytemnestra, here shows us the prelude to the war and that war’s hideous cost through her own eyes. Princess of Sparta, she marries for politics, and Agamemnon commits desperate crimes to obtain Clytemnestra as his own queen to cement his power. But even Clytemnestra couldn’t imagine the deed Agamemnon commits to ensure his ships sail to Troy. As the Trojan War stretches from one year into many, Clytemnestra at last finds love – and vengeance. While I doubt there’s anything really new to say about the Trojan War by now, Clytemnestra still manages to make the story feel, if not totally fresh, at least extremely well preserved. The locales and the culture feel solidly real, and the reweave of the ancient story from Clytemnestra’s point of view is strong, engrossing, and for once the clothing described is correct for the time/place!