As a soldier, Lukka has seen how much civilians suffer when their rulers lust for power and land. But he thought his family was safe in the mighty Hittite capital city. Returning from a long war, he finds the city in flames, his house in ruins, his father dying. Worse yet, his wife and young sons have been taken by slave traders!

With no general remaining to command them, Lukka and his squad march west across the shattered empire in search of his family, following the trade routes across Greece, all the way to Troy.

War is there, too, as the Achaians are battling the Trojans, seeking the return of beautiful Helen. Perhaps Lukka’s wife and children are in the famous slave market of Troy behind those mighty walls; the squad has not found their bodies along the road.

The Hittites are famed warriors, so the squad could hire out as mercenaries to either side. Lukka visits with Agamemnon, high king of the Achaians, who sends him into Troy with a peace offer whose terms the Trojans will never accept – give up Helen.

On grinds this war, with daily skirmishes on the dust-choked battlefields below Troy’s towering walls, with Odysseos and Hector and Achilles fighting from their chariots. Lukka’s squad builds a siege tower so Achaian soldiers can get inside the walls. Startled Trojan guards mistake its horsehide covers for a real giant horse, sent by the gods against them.

The epic tale recounted in Homer’s The Iliad gains new dimension as we experience the hurly-burly of chariots and foot-soldiers, the smoke and roughness of army camp, the stress of a besieged city running low on supplies, Lukka’s worry that he won’t reach his wife and sons before it’s too late.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA

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