Song of the Flutist
When the leaders of two city-states in ancient Etruria battle each other for dominance—in ways both subtle and otherwise—the common people are those most affected. Song of the Flutist follows Risa Laris, the daughter of an important man in the city-state of Tarchna. When her father and his inventive skills are lured away to the nearby enemy city of Cisra, Risa must pay the consequences of being shunned by all those around her and find a way to bring her fractured family back together.
For a book set in a time period about which so little is known, the story is filled with details of daily Etruscan life and culture, showing the author’s extensive familiarity with her subject. The characters, while drawn in broad strokes, still manage to be engaging; Venu, Risa’s younger brother who leaves home to become a sailor, stands out particularly. As someone forever caught between two cultures, his struggle to find his place in the world is among the story’s best plot lines. While the book is nicely presented, including maps and cover art that mimics the Etruscan artwork discussed often by the characters, the writing itself can be dull and flat, and the plot often meanders along with no clear purpose. However, for those with a great interest in this rarely seen time and place, this story is worth reading for the details of Etruscan life alone.