theseus, minotaur, ostia antica, roman sculpture

Inside The Maze: The Legend of the Minotaur

Here it is less than three weeks from Release Day for The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles, I’ve got all the absolute final versions loaded (and by “final,” I mean “if I have to proofread this book once more I will gouge my eyes out”), the pre-orders are trickling in, and I only just realized I’ve never told you the story behind the main plot line of the book. Plus, I’ve never made use of all these photos of statues of Theseus and the Minotaur I’ve been taking!

Silly me!

Although there are some minor plot lines going on such as certain gods hoping to take over the world, and plenty of set ups for events that will occur in Books Four and Five, the heart of The Maze a re-imagining of the legend of the Minotaur.

As with The Trials of Hercules and The Voyage, although the basic story and outcomes are essentially the same as in the original Greek legends, I’ve had fun changing some aspects of the myth of the Minotaur to better fit the world of Osteria, to match how my characters would normally behave, and to tie together the narrative of the series. And as with the first two books in the series, I’ve taken a rather straightforward myth and brought it to life.

Warning: if you don’t already know the legend of the Minotaur, the following does contain spoilers of events in The Maze. If you want to read just about the legend, read the paragraphs marked with “L“. The paragraphs marked with “B” explain a little of how the story changes in the book.

The Myth of the Minotaur Vs. The Maze

L In the original myth, Poseidon tricks Pasiphae—the wife of Minos, king of Crete—into making love to a bull (talk about kinky). This results in her giving birth to the Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and body of a man whose palate is only satisfied with human flesh. Minos locks the beast in an underground maze built by Daedalus. When his true-born son is killed, Minos demands the other city-states of Greece pay him tribute by sending seven men and seven women each year to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.

As you’ll see in The Maze, Minos (who you’ll remember from his part in The Trials of Hercules) is single and Pasiphae is working for war-hungry Ares and the avaricious and ambitious Osteria Council. When Minos refuses to give over his army to Pasiphae, she blackmails him and sends the Minotaur as punishment hoping he’ll cave in to her demands. As with the first two books, I simply can’t have time dragging on that long so the groups of sacrifices come within weeks of each other.

theseus, minotaur, ostia antica, roman sculpture

Theseus defeating a rather wimpy looking minotaur at Ostia Antica.

L In the legend, Theseus (who had a little cameo in The Voyage) vows to put an end to this savagery and heads off to Crete to kill the Minotaur. Before Theseus leaves, his father, Aegeus (king of Attica), tells him to return with his ship sailing under white sails if he succeeds, instead of the black sails ships normally sailed under.

B In The Maze, Aegeus’s new wife wants Theseus gone in the hope that her unborn child will be named heir. She’s clever enough to get Theseus to “volunteer.” Since Theseus will travel overland (with two of my favorite characters: Iolalus and Odysseus), there are no sails involved.

L Back to the legend…In Crete, Minos’s daughter, Ariadne, falls in love with Theseus and helps him by sneaking him a rope so he can find his way out of the maze once he kills the beast with a sword she has also given him. Theseus slays the Minotaur and makes it out thanks to her. Knowing her father will be outraged when he discovers her part in helping, Ariadne leaves with Theseus. When they stop on the island of Naxos, Theseus forgets Ariadne and leaves her behind (what a guy!). Luckily, Dionysus finds her there and they fall in love.

theseus, minotaur, greek myth, V&A, london

I’m not quite sure what Theseus is doing to the Minotaur in this state at London’s V&A Museum, but it looks more than a little naughty.

B I won’t give too much away about what happens in the book, but in The Maze, Ariadne is one of Minos’s priestesses and she does indeed give Theseus a little help (the scenes while ehe was in the maze were my favorite to write!). However, this help isn’t her own idea since by this point in the series you should know that the gods will meddle in anything they can, especially if it profits them. The meddlesome gods also allowed me to keep Theseus from being a forgetful jerk while still getting him to leave Ariadne behind (which will lead to some troublesome events in Books Four and Five).

L Finally, the legend wraps up with Theseus the hero sailing into Crete. I guess the Greeks enjoyed heroes who suffer from memory issues because Theseus forgets to switch his black sails to white. Aegeus, watching from the shore, assumes this means his son and heir is dead. In grief, he leaps to his death. Theseus then becomes king of Attica.

B I won’t detail exactly what happens upon Theseus’s return in The Maze, but let’s just say his stepmom is not happy to see him return.

If this has you craving more of The Maze, please enjoy these sample chapters from the book: The Maze Sample (PDF).

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I look forward to any bullish comments so don’t forget to leave one!! Finn McSpool and I will be back Saturday with our encounters with some dangerous islanders.


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Finn McSpool, Hawaii, Lahaina, Maui

A Monstrous Look at Lahaina

It’s time for another look into the adventurous life of Finn McSpool. Even though he had fun playing the underwater Hawaiian explorer, sometimes a Beastie needs to spend some time on dry land. And that land in question this week is the little town of Lahaina in West Maui.

Although now Lahaina is mostly just a place to stroll along Front Street gawking at all the tourist trap shops and restaurants (and, as I mentioned last week, this includes four or five ABC Stores in less than a mile), it became the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1820. Looking for a more exciting place to call his capital, in1845, King Kamehameha III decided he liked Honolulu better and made that the top city of his kingdom instead.

Hawaii, Lahaina, Maui

Around the same time they lost their status as top city, Lahaina took front stage when the whaling boom hit in the mid-1800s. Up to 400 ships were sailing from Lahaina and murdering poor cetaceans around this time, and one of those ships contained Mr. Moby Dick himself, Herman Melville. Continue reading

Reading, Reading, and More Reading

Recently, book blogger and avid reader Book Club Mom shared with the world all the books she’s read so far this year and I thought, ‘Well, now there’s a blogging idea I could steal!” (Don’t worry, she did ask at the end for her followers to share their reading lists, so I’m not stealing, I’m “participating.”). I also thought it might give you a little break from my rambling on about my own books.

But before I let you escape the clutches of marketing this week, let me help you add something to your bookshelf: a free print copy of my upcoming book The Maze: Book Three of the Osteria Chronicles! 

If you’re feeling lucky and if you’re on Goodreads, just follow this link and click on the big button that reads, “Enter Giveaway.” This giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and many places in Europe (if you don’t see your country listed and want to enter, just let me know and I can easily add it). 

And now, on with the list (notice I’ve refrained from counting the 10,000 times I’ve proofread The Maze). Books I really enjoyed and recommend are in bold. Oh, and before you think I spend enormous amounts of time with my nose in a book, keep in mind that gobs of audiobooks have fleshed out this list. Here we go… Continue reading

Finn McSpool’s Trip to the ABC Store

Other possible titles for this blog post: Why You Shouldn’t Take a Monster Shopping, Monster Maui Mayhem at the Mercantile, or Souvenir Shopping Takes a Beastie Turn. Either way, you know you’re in for some fun when you hit the aisles with Finn Mc Spool and a camera in tow.

And in case you’re wondering what an ABC Store might be, let me try to sum them up. First off, they are EVERYWHERE in Hawaii (there’s also a few in Marianas and Las Vegas, go figure). And I do mean EVERYWHERE. I’m not exaggerating when I say one street in Maui (in the town of Lahaina which I’ll get to next week) has something like four ABC Stores within less than a mile. The stores (originally named Mister K) were started in 1964 in Waikiki by the Hawaiian born Sidney Kosasa and have been thriving since with everything from fashion to food, and souvenirs to sunscreen.

But little did they know that a monster was heading their way to have some fun with their displays!

You’ve already seen that Finn was getting into the aloha spirit with a garish Hawaiian shirt that was thankfully a little too big for him.

Since the shirts weren’t his size, he thought perhaps he could tap into Hawaiian culture by getting a surf board. Continue reading

Why My Series is Not an Italian Restaurant

You may have noticed that oftentimes when I talk about my fantasy series, I simply say, “my fantasy series” or “my series in which I re-imagine Greek myths” or “my series in which I bring Greek myths to life.” Why not just say “The Osteria Chronicles” and save myself a bit of typing (although my fingers STILL stumble over the word chronicles)?

I blame a literary agent.

See, long ago when I thought self-publishing was the lowest route a writer could take in his or her career, I queried a fair number of agents with The Trials of Hercules (aka “Book One”). As is the norm, most didn’t even respond and those that did sent the standard, “This isn’t for us, yada yada yada.” However, one agent did respond. He said he thought the idea had potential but wasn’t interested because of the name of the series.

His parting comment was, “You know an osteria is a type of restaurant, right?”

Continue reading