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Hades Daughter by Sara Douglass

#16 of 200

Original Language: English
Publisher: Voyager Books
Country: Australia
Publication Date: December 2002
ISBN: 0732271649
Page Count: 596
Ancient Greece is a place where mortals are the playthings of the gods—but at the core of each mortal city-state is a Labyrinth, where the mortals can shape the heavens to their own design. When Theseus comes away from the Labyrinth with the prize of freedom and his beloved Ariadne, the Mistress of the Labyrinth, his future seems assured. But she bears him only a daughter—and when he casts her aside for this, the world seems to change. From that day forward, the Labyrinths decay, and power fades from the city-states. A hundred years pass, Troy falls, the Trojans scatter. Then Brutus, the warrior-king of Troy, receives a vision of distant shores where he can rebuild the ancient kingdom. He will move heaven and earth to reach his destiny. But in the mists is a woman of power, a descendent of Ariadne, who has her own reasons for luring Brutus to this lush land. Her heart is filled with a generations-old hatred, and her vengeance on him will not be thwarted. If Brutus makes the journey successfully, it will be the next step in the Game of the Labyrinth, and the beginning of a complicated contest of wills that will last for centuries…
Hade’s Daughter is the first of Sara Douglass’ (Sara Warneke) Troy Game Quartet. Narrated by the adolescent Dorian Princess Cornelia, Hades Daughter is a fantastic historical adventure in an alternate universe. Set in the Ancient World, a hundred years after the fall of the legendary city of Troy, Hade’s Daughter is about the greatest Game ever played. At the heart of all the great cities of history lies the Labyrinth; the Labyrinth protects cities from harm until the great Greek warrior Theseus shuns Ariadne and brings doom down upon all civilisations.


Hade’s Daughter plays on the legend of the Great Labyrinth in Crete, built forKing Minos at Knossos. King Minos angered the Gods when he claimed a fine bull for himself, after offering it to the Sea God Poseidon. In retaliation the Gods made Minos’ wife fall in love with the bull and she bore it a child; theMinotaur, half man. half bull. Minos had Daedalus build a great Labyrinth for the Minotaur.
Each year (or nine depending on the source) seven youths and seven maidens were sacrificed from Athens into the Labyrinth. By the third cycle, Theseus, son of King Aegeus of Athens, volunteered to slay the Minotaur.

On his arrival in Crete Theseus met Ariadne, daughter of Minos, and she fell in love. Ariadne gave Theseus the key to defeating the Labyrinth (a skein of thread; a clue) and he defeated the Minotaur.
Unfortunately for Theseus, some accounts say the Gods forced him to abandon Ariadne on an island instead of taking her back to Athens with him, and this is where Hade’s Daughter begins. (More on the legend…)


The scorned Ariadne is not just a Princess of Crete, she is the powerfulMistress of the Labyrinth and in her anger she brings destruction to the Ancient World. The cities of Athens, Troy and many other ancient civilisations fall as destruction follows in the footsteps of Theseus. One hundred years after the curse of Ariadne, the Game is dead and only one Kingsman (the male partner of the Mistress) is left.


Douglass writes a convincing account of the fall of glorious cities, allowing her readers to picture events as she portrays. Hade’s Daughter is obviously well researched; the small details from language, to clothing and behaviour show a deep understanding of the Ancient Worlds she recreates through her words. From the city of Mesopotamia to the Llangaria (early England) Douglass’ attention to detail makes the narrative more plausible. Brutus of Troy is believed to be the original founder of England (see more here) and her portrayal of events follows the correct time-line while offering an alternate view point.


The characters are diverse. Brutus is an important legendary/historical figure, along with his companion Corineus (founder of Cornwall), Ariadne and Theseus are well known mythical characters; by using real figures, Douglass had created an alternate history for us to appreciate. The dark magic of the Labyrinth is something worthy of both our awe and our fear.


Woven through the narrative is a secondary story. Written in short bursts, are the follow up stories of the main cast. From Asterion, the Minotaur, to Genvessa, the Darkwitch, to Cornelia, the innocent, a familiar cast appear in the unfamiliar and (somewhat) modern setting of war torn London. By introducing the future storyline in Hades Daughter, Douglass is foreshadowing the events of the following three novels, but never gives anything important away.


If you are looking for a fun and intriguing historical novel then Hade’s Daughter, and the rest of the Troy Games quartet are a wonderful addition to your library. A lengthy and detailed novel, it has loveable and emotional characters that will keep you on your toes. The Troy Game quartet continues in God’s Concubine.

I look forward to learning your views on who really is Hade’s Daughter.

Raiding Bookshelves Rating
Judging by the Cover: I like all the different aspects of the Hade’s Daughter cover. A lot of our knowledge of the ancient world comes from fragments of art left over (mosaics, pottery) so having David Wyatt illustrate the cover instead of using models seems fitting.


The positions of the characters also works nicely. Genvessa is the most powerful, cunning and seductive of the characters. In a world where women are revered, she uses her femininity to her advantage and is the strongest character in Hade’s Daughter. Paired in the background are Cornelia and Brutus, appropriately split by Genvessa. Cornelia is always outdone by her, in power, beauty and fertility, while in Llangarlia Brutus stands second to the woman and is blind to Genvessa’s plotting.


Shadowing them all is Asterion, a malevolent and unseen presence.

See more Sara Douglass here


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