Beware of Greeks by Peter Tonkin (The Trojan Murders #1)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.7 MB
Greece. Circa 1190 BCE. The Greek world is in turmoil as Agamemnon prepares for war against Troy.
His friends and allies scour the cities and islands, demanding that lesser kings supply armies to join him in his approaching conflict but all too many fear a lengthy campaign will destroy their countries and cost them their thrones.
Meanwhile a merchant’s son, beaten and crippled during a robbery on the dockside in Troy is trying to make a living as an apprentice rhapsode in the port city of Aulis, singing songs of the great heroes of an earlier generation.
Passing through Aulis on his way to Phthia in search of Prince Achilles, who he plans to recruit along with his army of Myrmidons, King Odysseus of Ithaca conscripts the young rhapsode onto his crew.
Odysseus and his young associate travel from the city of Phthia to the island of Skyros searching for Achilles. But as they do so they find themselves confronted by a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to prevent them completing their mission.
So, as the campaign against Troy turns on their success or failure, Odysseus and his young rhapsode must solve a series of murders and attempted and stay alive themselves – long enough to find and recruit Achilles to Agamemnon’s cause.
I was born in Aulis, seaport to the great city of Thebes, youngest son to a family of merchants. Indulged by my elders without exception or limit, I grew into a capricious and demanding youth who insisted on going everywhere and seeing everything our traders had to show me. By the time I approached manhood, therefore, I had voyaged to the most distant outposts of our trading empire which reached as far to the east as the slave markets of Miletus and Phoenician Tyre, and even farther to the west: beyond the Berber Sea and as far as the Gates of Gades which some call the Pillars of Hercules.
My favourite of the many ports and cities I visited was Troy. I returned to Troy as often as I could and grew to know every street and alley from the docks to the royal palace; from the teeming wharves to the walls of the citadel which were still being repaired after a massive quaking of the earth—the work of the god Poseidon, according to local legend. Strong though they had been, they were further damaged during a pirate raid by several famous heroes led by Hercules, which had resulted in the death of King Laomedon and the succession of his son King Priam more than two generations earlier.
In those days, Troy was a rich and important city, famous as an entrepot for a range of goods from well-bred horses to jewels, scents, exotic fabrics and spices – and, most importantly, metals. It was the centre for much of the trade in copper and tin from which our metalsmiths made bronze. The cunning Trojan traders and their Greek counterparts like my father, changed copper and tin not only into bronze—but into gold; which they kept locked in their coffers or invested in ever-richer enterprises. As the murderous attack by Hercules and his pirates proved, however, Troy was a tempting target for men whose designs were less than honest, despite the height of its walls and the massive size of its gates.
In fact the place had three names, which reflected the various peoples which packed its teeming streets, temples and squares. To the local Mysian Anatolians who ruled the thin coastal strip on which the city stood, it was Ilium. To the Hittites whose great empire stretched away to the east, but pressed ever westward, threatening to squeeze the last Anatolians into the Aegean Sea, it was Wilusa. And to us Greeks—many of whom called ourselves Achaeans in those days—it was Troy. Whatever its name, it was a place of almost magical attraction, of mystery and fascination. Sometimes it seemed like an outpost of Achaean influence with so many Greeks bustling there. But it also heaved with the Anatolians, their language as strange as their clothing and their accents—even when they attempted Greek—impenetrable. But it seemed like an outpost of the Hittite empire as well, with its veiled women, its strange rites and practices which had begun to spread ever further westward, into some of the islands in the middle of the Aegean. Exotic beliefs made more alien still through the influences of the Phoenician, Egyptian and Assyrian traders who came and went amongst all the others.