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Shadows on the Aegean    by Suzanne Frank order for
Shadows on the Aegean
by Suzanne Frank
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 1999 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

This is the second in the time travel adventures of Chloe and Cheftu. The first of this series, Reflections In the Nile, brought ancient Egypt and the wondrous event of the Exodus to life. At the end of the story we left Chloe and Cheftu time traveling, in the hope of going back to their own time.

Instead of getting back to her own body and time, Chloe finds herself sharing the body of the prophetess Sibylla in the ancient seafaring nation of Aztlan. Through Sibylla's foretelling eyes, Chloe sees a terrible calamity about to befall this advanced island civilization, which is set on a volcanic belt in the Aegean. The Aztlans happily prepare for the traditional once-in-nineteen-years change of reign, even as unknown to them, the earth beneath the sea cracks, and lava begins to rise through the four dormant volcanoes located on this archipelago.

Chloe, in the body of Sibylla, becomes embroiled in the great race to overthrow reigning queen Ileana and marry Prince Phoebus, even as Cheftu comes to Aztlan as an Egyptian hostage. After a few initial botch-ups, Chloe and Cheftu are united once again. But their repeated warnings about the approaching catastrophe fall on deaf ears. Soon the volcanoes come to life and begin to rain destruction on this once-proud culture.

As before, Suzanne Frank stuns us with the breadth and scope of her imagination. Egypt was the focus of her first book, but Aztlan, in other words Atlantis, is central to Shadows on the Aegean. The author has combined Greek mythology, Minoan culture, the legend of Atlantis, ancient Egypt, and the Bible in this imaginative, impressive book. She expertly brings Atlantis to life, with its green, verdant islands, highly ordered clan-level society, incredible advances in medicine, science and architecture, and its people, both good and bad. And with great skill, Ms. Frank also contrasts their technological progress with their primitive and savage religious practices.

Unlike the previous book, this one features (blatantly and in gruesome detail) not just hedonism, but also cannibalism, patricide, bull-fighting, mad-cow disease, bathing in blood and rampant sex - most of them in the name of ritual and religion. Despite this, the richness, the historical details and the fast, action-paced story all serve to capture and firmly hold a reader's attention. This story is not just about Chloe and Cheftu, but also about the utter destruction of a mighty civilization at the hand of an even mightier God. Savagely beautiful!

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