Corydon and the Siege of Troy (Corydon Trilogy)

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9780375933844: Corydon and the Siege of Troy (Corydon Trilogy)

After the destruction of the city of Atlantis, Corydon is in a selfimposed exile. Clearly his presence only puts his friends in danger. And so he hides out in the desert, tending to goats and camels, keeping his friends safe by staying away.

But, as ever, the gods of Olympos have other plans. Now the city of Troy is under siege, and Corydon’s friends are trapped inside. And so Corydon reluctantly joins them, hoping to help, and fearing that it is he that will tip the scales against them.

In this thrilling conclusion to the trilogy about the gods and monsters of ancient Greece, Corydon knows that it will be up to him to thwart the mighty Zeus if the others are to live. At what cost will he buy their freedom?
From the Hardcover edition.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Tobias Druitt is a pen name for the mother-and-son writing team of Diane Purkiss and Michael Dowling. Purkiss is on the faculty of Oxford University, and Dowling attends the prestigious Dragon School. They both live in Oxford, England.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

one

On the side of a sand hill in the arabian desert, a shepherd boy watched over his flock. He still thought of himself as a shepherd, though his flock was composed of lithe goats, and its glory was three milch camels.

Corydon was not alone. The flock belonged to his gang, who had assembled it by a series of lightning raids on the people who lived on the vast desert’s margins.

There were three other boys in the gang, and all of them were outcasts. There was Azil, who had been exiled for stealing a camel to try to win a race. There was Bin Khamal, who understood wind and weather so well that people had said he was a djinn and sent him away out of fear. And, best of all, there was Sikandar, who had once lived somewhere greener, somewhere with sheep, but who now trod the lonely wastes.

Corydon didn’t know why Sikandar couldn’t go home. The gang didn’t spend much time analyzing things. They talked, of course, to pass the long desert days and nights, but they said little of the past. All of them were trying to forget their former lives.

Corydon most of all. There were still nights when his dreams tossed him from the sight of ruined cities and metal monsters to the screams of dying warriors. And sometimes the wind seemed to sing to him of a place a goddess had named. Troios . . . Troios . . . , it sang. When the ghibli blew across the dry desert, it seemed to whisper of a city of towers. . . . But Corydon tightened his blue headdress around his ears. Deaf and sullen, he would not hear what the ghibli wanted to tell him. Cities of towers . . . He was fatal to them. He, Corydon, had destroyed an entire city, the greatest in the world. . . . He had done the Olympians’ will, though he had thought he was defying them. Clearly, if Troy needed saving, Corydon Panfoot should stay away.

He loved the desert because it did not know his name. It was utterly indifferent to him. It might kill him, but it would do so without malice, just by being itself. He loved being forgotten. Disappearing into its vastness.

Sikandar approached him shyly.

“Lord,” he began, “I must ask when we move. The camels must find more grazing soon. The goats also. And the tracks we saw . . . perhaps someone we might raid?”

“Don’t call me ‘lord,’?” said Corydon a little irritably. “I’m just a shepherd like you. And don’t worry about the grazing. Winter is fast approaching, and with it the rains will come. Till then, we can hold out by using the oases. As for the tracks, we must follow them cautiously and attempt a raid when the moon is dark.” The dark of the moon—memories surged over him. He let them run into the sand like water. “Are the animals all watered?” he asked.

They had stopped at a well. It had been called “The Sweet,” but the water tasted as if liquid iron and seawater had gone into it. The taste was so bitter that only the camels drank it willingly. It tasted like the tears of giants. Again, Corydon tried to crush his memories. Sikandar’s voice helped.

“Yes, lord,” he said. “All have had water.”

“DON’T CALL ME ‘LORD’!” Corydon shouted. And then his heart filled with sadness. Sikandar looked forlorn, as if his last protector had struck him. “I’m sorry,” Corydon said. “It’s just—”

“I know,” said Sikandar. “We are all in a desert of the heart, where the ghibli blows all day and fills our mouths with the sands of memory.”

Corydon smiled. Sikandar had the poet’s heart that showed the true shepherd.

As they packed up the tent and stowed everything on the camels, Corydon reflected on how difficult it was to escape from who you truly were. He was still Corydon, poet and shepherd, and because he was still Corydon, he couldn’t escape for long from all he had done and suffered. But at least he felt sure he could do no harm here.

“Mount up!” he ordered. Each camel could carry two boys, though every time they came to dunes, all had to dismount. The third camel was a beast of burden, carrying their supplies. One boy had always to be with the goats, too, which meant one of the riding camels had an easier time. It was still early, and the desert was almost cool. Corydon had always heard that deserts were cold at night, but this one wasn’t, only less scorching. They had to move now, before the heat of the day began. The sun was only just below the horizon, and the stars had paled. He had already scanned the camel tracks they were following. He moved his swift black camel into the lead. Corydon knew that a trot would be best for the early morning. A gallop would tire the camels, and when the sun appeared, the camels would collapse, especially if they had to cross any dunes. The other boys followed, keeping the goats between them.

It soon became clear that they were gaining on the other caravan. The tracks were fresher, and they saw a pile of camel dung. Azil examined it for a moment, then said, “One hour. Maybe two. And they have at least four pack camels. It may be a silk or spice caravan from far away. The camels are laden with more than men.”

A caravan, laden with spices! All four boys felt eager. With their bags full of spices, they could trade in a nearby town and increase the herd. More milch camels and goats would reduce the hungry times, when all they had to eat was rock-hard sand-baked bread or a few dry dates.

“Careful,” Azil warned. “They are many. We must not come too close to them until darkness can cloak us. Then we may steal in and . . . liberate some camels—”

“And some saddlebags,” put in Bin Khamal. “Their saddlebags must be groaning in oppression. Only we can set them free!”

All the boys laughed. Spirits were high. Guided by Azil, they stayed carefully upwind of the caravan, and about an hour distant, until the hammering heat of day began to fade into the gentler heat of night.

Speaking low, Corydon took the initiative. “I’ll go ahead,” he said, “and scout their camp. Make camp here yourselves, but be careful. Don’t make a fire, and we’ll all have to do without water for a while. Wait until the moon rises—luckily, she’s almost at full dark—and then follow my tracks. You know what to do when we get there.” They nodded, though inwardly all felt scared of robbing so great a caravan.
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