Book Club Discussion Questions

Book Club Discussion Questions for Hand of Fire: A Novel of Briseis and the Trojan War

  1. Early on Briseis faces several crises and takes on adult responsibilities, although she is only fifteen at the time. Did you find her character believable? Did you find parallels to contemporary teenage life?
  2. What do the varied responses of women to the violent circumstances they face in this novel show about human nature and about some women’s resiliency in the face of tragedy? What does the novel say about the source of women’s strength?
  3. Is Achilles’ half-immortality more of an advantage or disadvantage to him? Where and how can he find happiness?
  4. What does Hand of Fire show about friendship? Are women better at friendship than men or vice versa in this book?
  5. This book balances history and myth. Did you feel the history was reliable and engaging? Did Starkston’s representation of famous heroes and gods from Greek mythology differ from your expectations? Did you find the author’s vision persuasive?
  6. Why does Briseis choose to accept Achilles’ love? Do you sympathize with her decision?
  7. What do the novel’s various symbols—hands, fire, the sea, springs, mountains, wolves, weaving—show about the underlying themes for you?
  8. The author has said she views Hand of Fire as predominantly hopeful despite the violence and death depicted through its plot. Do you agree?


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