The Burning Shadow

Written by Michelle Paver
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Bronze Age Greece. In this, the second Gods and Warriors book, Hylas, the Outsider; Pirra daughter of the High Priestess of Keftiu; and Telamon, the Crow chief’s son, once friends but now estranged, have been separated. Hylas has been captured and is now a Crow slave, condemned to work in the copper mines on the volcanic island of Thalakrea. He is desperate to return to Messenia to find his sister, but no-one ever escapes from the mines. But then he finds the lion cub, Havoc, and an unlikely partnership is forged.

Pirra is frantically looking to escape from Keftiu. Soon, she will be sent abroad to marry the king of Arzawa by her ambitious mother. How can she get away when she’s watched all the time? She bribes the seer Hekabi, a woman she suspects of being a fake prophet, to help her escape. But Hekabi has other ideas…

Telamon, once Hylas’s friend, carries a burden of guilt. He feels that it was his fault that Hylas and his sister were separated. His clan, the Crows, now own the stone knife which has the power to control everything and, as Telamon recognizes, they do so with ruthless cruelty. Prophesies say that when the Outsider holds the knife, the Crows will fall. And, as Telamon knows, Hylas is an Outsider. Somehow the three children must find each other and repair their friendship. But trust, once broken, is not easy to mend. Over it all, the Fire Goddess looms, furious at the way the miners are plundering her sacred mountain. Will she destroy them all or can the three find a way to escape?

As before, this book had me gripped. The Bronze Age world of rival tribes fighting for power is brilliantly portrayed, and the pace is terrific. Recommended for children of 11 plus.