Cassandra was the Trojan princess offered the ability to see the future by the god Apollo in exchange for agreeing to have sex with him. When she reneged on the promised sex, he added the curse that her prophecies – all accurate – would never be believed, condemning her to a life of frustration. Her agony is made all the greater by the fact that she lived through the Trojan War, and that all her desperate efforts to warn her loved ones and her city of impending disaster would be in vain.
The novel begins when Cassandra – here portrayed as a beautiful and profoundly sensitive young woman – is about to go into the homecoming dinner offered by Clytemnestra, the wife of King Agamemnon, who won Cassandra in the lottery of Trojan women after the fall of Troy. Her prophetic powers tell her that murder awaits both him and her at the hands of Clytemnestra and her lover. She has tried to warn Agamemnon, but of course was not believed. Unsure whether those who descend to the underworld (as she knows she very soon will do) retain any memory, she mentally reviews one last time the whole rich tapestry of the Trojan War as witnessed by her – the essence of the novel – before going to her fate with the firm step of a Trojan princess and of – in Homer’s words – “the most beautiful of Priam’s daughters.”
Thomas Ochiltree is an emerging historical novelist whose longstanding interest in the classics has led him to read three fourths of the surviving classical Greek and Latin literature in the original texts.