The world of the Bronze Age Mediterranean is something that we know a little bit about, particularly when it relates to Knossos and its Bull Culture. Aissa was born on a small island that paid tribute to the Cretan King in the form of young teens; they would then be trained for the bull jumping events that were part of the religious rites. However Aissa was born with additional ‘fingers’ on each hand and had been sent away to die, luckily she was saved and looked after by a farming family. After they were killed in a raid she found her way to the temple and worked as a general skivvy. She was known as ‘No-name’ because she had lost the ability to speak after the shock of the raid. After a variety of twists and turns she finds herself among the group being shipped to Crete for training. The consequences would change not only her life but also those of her fellow islanders.
This is a stunning story of survival against the odds and of how destiny cannot be avoided. The story is written in two separate but interlinked styles; most of it is in standard prose but it is interspersed with sections in verse, much as you would find in ancient Greek works. We see the central character grow and develop as she gradually realises that she does have a value and that no one should be looked down on because they do not look or sound like others. Whilst this is a very personal story of a young girl and her struggles to overcome many difficulties, it is also the story of a lost culture that we can catch glimpses of in the ruins of Knossos. This is an outstanding story, both for those who love their history and for those who want to read about inspiring individuals.