The Moon Riders is one of my favourite versions of the Siege of Troy. We get an outsiders point of view of the beginning, middle and end to this tragic tale, which explores the effects such a war might have had on the people living in the area, as well as the highborn and royalty.
We follow Myrina on her journey to become a Moon Rider, referred to by others as Amazons. She has her own path to follow, but it snakes us in and out of the tale of Troy, bringing in characters I was excited to recognise. Amongst many, we meet Iphigenia, the sacrificial daughter of King Agamemnon, and Cassandra, the prophetess daughter of King Priam, her visions thought to be nothing but madness.
Tomlinson weaves the two myths of Amazon warriors and the Siege of Troy together, into a story that gives explanation to the fantastical details commonly associated with the stories. My favourite is the discussion amongst Myrina and her people of how other civilisations think the women to be barbarians, who cut off one of their breasts in order to use their bow and arrows more proficiently. In fact, they merely bind one down in order to keep it out of the way when drawing back their bowstrings.
I always find myself torn over who’s side I’m on when it comes to Troy. Do I pity Menelaus, the poor king played for a fool by his wife and her lover, or do I feel for the two star-crossed lovers, intent on being together until their final breath (and that of most the kingdom of Troy…)?
In Tomlinson’s version I find there to be a balance of personalities. We see the selfish and arrogant side of the Queen of Sparta and the Prince of Troy, putting their love before the safety of their people and even their family. But we also see glimpses of humanity and kindness, which I find are missing from a lot of versions of this story. Most I have read make the couple out to be spoilt and spiteful towards anyone but themselves, in an obvious way to make us feel for every other character trapped within the city’s walls. But in The Moon Riders, we are reminded that each character is a human being, capable of empathy, despite their flaws.
As well as following Myrina as she grows and develops into a strong and skilled warrior, there’s also a little bit of romance thrown in, and the book has it’s fair share of tragedy too. Exactly the formula for a gripping read, one you’ll struggle to put down until it’s finished.
There is also a sequel, which delves into the aftermath of Troy’s decimation, continuing Myrina’s journey. I found it equally as enthralling as this one, also well worth a read!