Friday, December 4, 2015

"The Conqueror's Wife"

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and high school history teacher who has been obsessed with infamous women from ancient history since she was twelve. Her first two novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, focus on two of history's forgotten women: Theodora of the Byzantine Empire and Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Her third novel, The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan, is the story of Genghis' wife and daughters.

Thornton applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Conqueror's Wife, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Again, Barsine checked the babe, eliciting more exhausted moans from my mother. “The child still faces the wrong direction. I need sheep fat,” she ordered. “Warm it over the brazier.”

A servant scurried to attend to the fat while my mother cried softly to herself. “My girls,” she whispered through her tears. “You must be brave. Whatever Alexander plans for you, remember who you are, daughters of the King of Kings.”

I knew then she believed herself dying, but every laboring woman wishes for death just before bringing forth new life. My mother would survive this to outlive all of us and complain to our corpses about the quality of wine served at our funerals.
Considering that this excerpt from page 69 of The Conqueror's Wife is a struggle between life and death, albeit in a birthing tent instead of on the battlefield, I'd say that it's pretty representative of the story as a whole. Alexander the Great was renowned for his prowess on the battlefield, but few realize how many people--his mother, wives, and sisters among them--helped him become the legend we now recognize today. Still more fell by the wayside, sidelined by all manner of treachery, disease, and war. So while Alexander may have been brave when laying siege to a city or fighting in hand to hand combat, his friends and relatives also had to fight for their very survival, even many years after he lay mouldering in his own tomb.
Visit Stephanie Thornton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue