Come and meet the major characters in my new children’s book, Episode, which turns the story of the Trojan War on its head:
Alisha Dainton is thirteen and lives with her parents and sixteen-year-old sister Sal, with whom she has a troubled relationship, in Liverpool, England. Unfortunately, Ali’s life is plagued by epilepsy and she suffers seizures on a daily basis, so much so that it affects her day-to-day life. The triggers for her seizures are extreme stress and heat, so when the family go on holiday to Cyprus the seizures come thick and fast. Her mum is worried and thinks the family should go home early, but Ali doesn’t want to because she’s having a nice time. Older sister Sal is fed-up with Ali’s seizures and accuses her of ruining the holiday.
It is in Cyprus that Ali discovers her seizures are powerful enough to transport her through portals into other timelines and worlds, but she can only do this with the intervention of the Greek gods, who tell her that she’s been chosen to go to the aid of Helen, Princess of Sparta, to take her out of Sparta through a portal, and also to protect Travis, a fellow time traveller, from the wrath of Aphrodite. So begins an adventure in time travel Ali could well do without!
Like Ali, Travis suffers from powerful epileptic seizures. We met him previously in Epiworld and he is a seasoned time traveller through the portals created by his fits. Travis is also from the UK, but from Ali’s future in 2099, and he comes from a world controlled by a robotic police state and where disease is outlawed. He is also brought to ancient Sparta by Iris, the messenger god, to help Helen, but he denies the existence of the gods, disputing their claim that Selene, Goddess of the Moon, inspires the infliction of epilēpsía in humans. He states both he and Ali can see them because Helen believes in them and her belief manifests their appearance.
Travis’s purpose is to act as a mentor to Ali, to help guide her through her time travelling adventures, and they both work together to try and help Helen out of her predicament, Travis willingly because he promised Helen to help her escape through one of his portals, Ali more reluctantly.
Helen, daughter of King Tyndareus and Queen Leda of Sparta, is a young woman of seventeen promised in marriage to Prince Menelaus of Mycenae. Once married, Melenaus will become King of Sparta. Helen doesn’t want to marry him and prays to the gods to help her escape the marriage. Those gods who disagree with the marriage, namely Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, hear her prayers and send her Travis, a time traveller who promises to help her escape by transporting her through one of his portals. Helen also meets Ali. a younger, less experienced time traveller, who comes to her as a slave, but Ali is an unwilling saviour and finds herself being swept along in the adventure by Travis and the gods.
Unbeknown to Helen, Aphrodite is planning another means of escape for her, a union with Paris, Prince of Troy, and that presents more dilemmas.
The gods control the behaviours, beliefs, thoughts and behaviours of humans in the ancient world. The most prominent gods in Episode are:
Iris, Messenger Goddess of the Rainbow, the Sea and the Sky
Iris’s purpose is to bring messages from the gods. She travels across the sky on her rainbow and this is how Ali first meets her in Cyprus. Everything about Iris is the rainbow: the colour of her hair and her shimmering dress. She is the main link between Ali and Travis and the gods. When the other gods speak, only their lips move; Ali and Travis cannot hear their words unless they allow it, so it’s Iris’s job to interpret what they’re saying.
Selene, Goddess of the Moon
Selene is said to bestow the infliction of epilepsy on the human population. Everything about Selene is silver and diamonds: she wears a silver crescent moon as a crown, a diamond encrusted robe and travels across the sky in a silver chariot pulled by magnificent white horses. Whenever Ali or Travis has a seizure, she transports them through their portals in her chariot, although Travis firmly disputes this because neither he nor Ali can recall seeing her chariot after the first transportation.
Zeus is King of the Gods and he decides Greece and Troy are overpopulated, so he decides to provoke a war between them. His idea is to stage an assassination on King Priam of Troy by a Greek ambassador, but Aphrodite persuades him that her idea is better, to allow Paris, Priam’s youngest son and Prince of Troy, to abduct Helen of Sparta from Menelaus after she promises Paris Helen’s hand when she judges him the most beautiful out of herself, Hera and Athena. When the war starts, the gods take their sides: those who favour the Greeks strive to prevent Ali and Travis from helping Helen escape Menelaus, but those who favour the Trojans want her to escape him. Zeus is unhappy with this aspect of the conflict between the gods and Helen is becoming too defiant of her fate.
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, is very fond of Helen and Paris. She is anxious for them to be together, but Helen is defiant: she does not love Paris any more than she loves Menelaus, so when Helen begs for Ali’s and Travis’s help to escape from Paris Aphrodite promises severe wrath. In particular, she sets her sights on Travis, and both he and Ali are stunned when they discover why.
We also meet Hera, Athena, Hermes and Nemesis, as well as the minor deities, and the messenger goddess Gna from the Norse beliefs when Ali and Travis are transported to Shetland.
Other very important characters:
The robot guards
On the hunt for Travis, a fugitive from their world, the guards travel through one of Travis’s portals and become involved in a war with the gods, destroying Troy as a result and bringing the Trojan War to an abrupt end even before it’s begun.
Sal, Ali’s older sister, is very surprising. Ali discovers something about her that sends her reeling. It turns out that Sal is not all she seems and does in fact play a very major role in Ali’s adventures.
Stasinus is the storyteller famed for the first poem in the Epic Cycle of Trojan War poems, The Cypria, which is now lost: of all the poems, only The Iliad and The Odyssey survive. It’s through The Cypria that Stasinus tells us how the Trojan War begins and Ali and Travis are surprised that Stasinus includes them in the first version of his poem.
The older brother of Paris, Prince Hector is the only Trojan survivor when Troy is raised to the ground by the robot guards. He joins Ali and Travis in their quest to save Helen when she’s abducted by the guards and helps them and the gods to fight the guards in the new war.
We also meet Menelaus, his brother Agamemnon, and Paris.
Episode is available in all Amazon stores in paperback and Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Waterstones, and elsewhere.