Reviews of Hand of Fire


Reviews of Hand of Fire


“What makes a good historical novel? The writing, of course, has to be well done – a good pace, that “page turner” quality where the reader is hooked into the story from the first paragraph to the last. The plot has to keep going, no sagging bits in the middle where the reader starts skipping pages.
Characters? Ah yes, good characters that are believable as real people – even when they are clearly “made up”. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable characters, the baddies can be just as entertaining as the goodies.
What else? What about research? A poor historical novel gets all the facts wrong, or so muddled so the background believability is ruined.
There also needs to be suspense, tragedy, maybe it can be a little bit sexy in places. Romance, hatreds, fights, tension…. 
A good historical novel leaps to life, it should be almost as if you have travelled back in time and you are watching the characters’ story unroll before your eyes. You laugh, cry, get angry with them when they do. You ache to know what happens next…

But what is the difference between a _good_ historical novel and a _brilliant_ one?
I suggest you read Judith Starkston’s Hand of Fire and you’ll discover the answer.” Helen Hollick, author of Sea Witch and Forever Queen, Historical Novels Review Editor

“…once one begins this tale one is transported back thousands of years to a time both ancient and modern all at the same time.  Reading Hand of Fire is akin to entering a time machine.  I felt the age come alive through Starkston’s subtle manipulation of her research and her narrative skill.  These fully fleshed-out characters leap off the page and a time that is far away chronologically becomes all too real.  This is a wonderful introduction to both Homer and the late Bronze Age.  Any reader from teen-ager on up will find this both a fascinating history lesson and a thrilling novel.” For full review go to the Poisoned Pen Fiction Review.

In Hand of Fire, Judith Starkston frees Briseis from the actions of Achilles and Agamemnon and gives her the power to become the heroine of her own story. … Starkston does a lovely job of bringing the characters to life, and her descriptions of the religious rites, the scenery of Mount Ida, and life as a woman of privilege in the ancient world put me firmly in the story. The love story between Briseis and Achilles is well-rendered, as are Briseis’ relationships with her father and brothers, her nurse, and the other women in the city and in the camp. A wonderful new take on a timeless story. –Historical Novels Review


“In Hand of Fire, Starkston’s careful research brings ancient Greece and Troy to life with passion and grace. This haunting and insightful novel makes you ache for a mortal woman, Briseis, in love with a half-god, Achilles, as she fights to make her own destiny in a world of capricious gods and warriors. I devoured this page-turning escape from the modern world!” — Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath


“Suspenseful, tragic, surprising and sexy” –Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown and The Chalice


“Briseis steps out from the handful of lines she gets in Homer’s epic, and fearlessly tells her own story as healer, war prize, and partner to the famous Achilles–here a godlike hero who manages to be all too human. Recommended!”–Kate Quinn, author of Empress of the Seven Hills


“In her portrayal of Briseis, Judith Starkston has cast a bright light on one of the Iliad‘s most intriguing sub-plots. With her fast-paced story, three-dimensional characters, and fascinating cultural details, Starkston has given historical fiction fans a tale to remember.” –Priscilla Royal, author of Covenant with Hell and 9 other Prioress Eleanor mysteries


“Starkston breathes new life into an age-old tale in this masterful retelling of the Iliad. The reader experiences the terror, bravery and heartbreak of Briseis who now takes center stage in one of the most famous love triangles of all time.” Elisabeth Storrs, author of The Wedding Shroud and The Golden Dice


“Absolutely loved the book. Couldn’t put it down. Wonderful writing. And, I see no errors whatsoever as regards the history.” –Professor Eric Cline, Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, George Washington University


“Ms. Starkston’s fascinating novel tells the story of Briseis, famed beauty and war prize to demi-god, Achilles. Backed by meticulous research, Starkston weaves an intriguing tale about a brave woman who must bury her heartache, survive amid those who destroyed her family, and rise above the confines of her station to create her own destiny. A must read for fans of ancient Greece, and lively tales of historical fiction.” –Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine


Bloggers reviews of Hand of Fire:

Edward James on Busy Words: Click here

Meg Wessell on A Bookish Affair: Click here

Jo on Jaffareadstoo: Click here

Donna Lawrence on Book Lovers Paradise Click here

Nassem Al-Mehairi on Seize the Moment Click here

Nada Sobhi on Author Alliance Click here

Faith Justice on Historian’s Notebook Click here

So Many Books So Little Time Click here

Stephanie Thornton Click here

Rebecca Palmer Click here

Historical Fiction reviews, Paul Bennett Click here

Readful Things, Ionia Martin Click here

Just One More Chapter Click here

Oh For the Hook of a Book Click here

She Reads Novels Click here

Broken Teepee Click here

Historical Novel Review Click here

Around the Red Map Click here

Kate George, Toni Linenberger Click here

Novel PASTimes, Rebecca Palmer Click here

Book Addicted Housewife, Lisa Weir Click here

Literary Inklings, Casee Clow  Click here

Book Binder’s Daughter, Melissa Beck Click here

Unshelfish, Melinda Click here

The Review, Lisl Click here