Nerine’s Youngest Sister

Fate's Door, web cover 200I cut four chapters from the middle of Fate’s Door.

It was a lot of fun hanging around on Mount Olympus with Nerine and her eldest sister Eilidh. It was even more fun joining Nerine and her youngest sister Agnippe on Mount Helicon.

But I was indulging myself. All that loitering with the Greek gods brought my story to a near stop. So I reduced those chapters to a series of brief vignettes.

But I suspect some of my readers might enjoy dallying within Greek mythology as much as I do.

For those of you who share that taste of mine, here is a part of chapter 19 that was cut from the final manuscript. 😀

19 ~ Agnippe and Mount Helicon

Amidst the chattering opulence of Hera’s handmaidens Nerine possessed neither intimacy nor solitude. And she’d never hankered for luxury.

Groups and clusters seemed the natural mode of the handmaidens. They never walked alone or even in pairs.

All except one.

That one loner was a brunette who wore her hair in a simple braid circling her head, and who chose gowns of pale gray or pastel blue rather than the popular variations on white. When the handmaidens gathered to brush one another’s hair, the brunette sought the fountain shrine to bathe alone. If the handmaidens danced in the meadow, she walked the forest paths. Alone.

Nerine was reluctant to interrupt her solitude. Nor was she certain she wanted to draw attention to her by asking someone. But she was curious about this young woman who didn’t seem to fit in. Why was she on Mount Olympus? What was her role?

Before Nerine could learn much, Eilidh suggested a visit to Agnippe.

“You’re so close,” she said. “What a shame to miss the chance!”

Nerine hadn’t realized Mount Helicon rose nearby. Was her knowledge of Hellene geography so poor? No, she’d forgotten that the winged horses brought locations closer. The ten-day trek to the glades of the muses would be a mere morning’s flight aback a pegasus.

The valleys around Mount Helicon were less wild than the ridges around Mount Olympus – featuring olive groves – and the snow was gone from its peak.

Nerine alit amidst grasses on the mountain skirts, where a group of youths wearing sheepskins slung over one shoulder awaited her. Were they shepherds from the local village?

“Welcome, numen!” said their spokesman. “We shall guide you to the sacred spring.”

This was the first evidence she’d seen of direct contact – rather than spiritual connection – between mortal and divine. The young men clearly knew their way, leading her through bushy laurel trees and tall elms. They spoke in a dialect unfamiliar to her, and cleared fallen twigs from the path as they walked.

The sacred spring issued from a cleft in a low cliff to fill a pool, rushes growing in its shallows, and ringed by crab apple trees and wild roses. The water was very clear, with dancing dapples cast by its motion across the spring bottom.

As Nerine approached, Agnippe rose from the depths to stand amidst the rushes – slender and girlish; not yet entered into full womanhood – water streaming from her pale skin. She wore a belt and pectoral fashioned from small plates of nacre, and the sun lit rainbows in their gleaming surfaces. Her tightly curled blonde hair had grown to hang past her hips. She was luminously beautiful.

The shepherd boys faded away, leaving Nerine alone with her sister.

Agnippe didn’t hesitate – despite her dampness. She leapt to the spring bank to wrap Nerine in glad arms.

“Nerine! Nerine! Oh, Nerine!”

Nerine burst into tears. Seeing Agnippe after so long, feeling Agnippe’s embrace – it overwhelmed her.

“I’ve missed you,” gasped Nerine. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Agnippe laughed tearily. “I’ve got your gown wet. I’m sorry.”

“Can I see your spring? Is it permitted, or–?” Or was only the spring’s guardian allowed to enter the water. Nerine had a sudden longing to be underwater with her sister as though they were both at home in the reef together.

Agnippe waved one hand in a gesture of welcome and smiled, dashing the tears from her cheeks. “Only my permission is needed, and you have it. Come in!”

Nerine slipped out of her gown and entered the water bare, as though she were a little girl, needing no garb save her own skin. The spring was very cold, with that strange edge to it that fresh water possessed, although this felt mellower than the fountain on Mount Olympus.

Minnows darted amongst the rushes in the shallows. A frog hopped, splashing.

The water deepened, and Nerine submerged. Her spiracles opened, and she could taste the spring: sweet and refreshing and with a slight mineral tang that appealed. Agnippe appeared by her side.

“Do you like it? Can you tolerate the freshwater?” She looked anxious.

“It’s lovely. I love it!” Nerine reassured her.

Agnippe wanted to show her everything about her diminutive domain.

The flag lilies growing on the far bank, the gleaming snails, the water-smoothed pebbles, the swimming trout, the crayfish and – best of all – the underwater cave that stretched back under the cliff, with twisting passages and varied chambers. In one, a torrent from the heart of the mountain turned the water frothy with bubbles. In another, a cleft in the rock admitted a shaft of strong sunlight, striking sparkles of gold and silver from the surrounding stone.

Agnippe’s possessions from home occupied the inmost chamber.

Nerine couldn’t help admiring Agnippe’s underwater mansion, but she was relieved when they returned to the outside pool and could see the sky again, its warm blue fractured by the moving surface of the spring above them. The darting fish made the pool feel lively, friendlier, than the cool beauty of the caves.

“Do you stay in the water all the time?” asked Nerine. She’d imagined Agnippe on land, surrounded by the muses, with only brief sojourns in the spring. Why else would Agnippe have required a trousseau as extensive as Eilidh’s?

“Of course not!” Agnippe sounded surprised. She started to explain, then stopped and took Nerine’s hand. “Nerine . . . I don’t want to pry –” she looked younger than she had when Nerine first set eyes on her sister emerging from the water, and her voice sounded uncertain – “but, what are you doing here? I mean –” her voice strengthened – “it’s lovely to see you, but you aren’t just visiting me, are you? You’re traveling far into the north with the intent to stay.”

Agnippe drifted forward to kiss Nerine’s cheek. “I want you to be as happy as I am.”

Uneasiness stirred in Nerine’s belly. How could she explain her decision to her sister? She couldn’t bear to rehash the events that had led up to it. She didn’t want to simply shut Agnippe out by not answering at all. She refused to lie.

Sighing, she attempted to gather her thoughts. “You felt a real calling to be guardian of this spring of inspiration, didn’t you?”

Agnippe nodded.

“And I know Eilidh longed to join Queen Hera’s entourage,” Nerine continued. “She seems . . . more certain, more . . . anchored than I’ve ever known her to be. Have you seen her? Since you settled here?”

“She’s who she was meant to be, I think,” agreed Agnippe.

“Yes, that’s it exactly.” Nerine sighed again. “I think that’s what you were hoping for me. Am I right?”

Agnippe’s face looked very solemn, but she didn’t speak.

“And you fear I am making a mistake.” Nerine squeezed Agnippe’s hand.

“Are you?” Agnippe’s voice was very low.

“I might be, but I don’t think so. I don’t feel the same kind of calling that you and Eilidh feel. Or Tyr.” Their brother definitely loved his Tyrrhenian Sea, loved caring for it, loved living in it. “But waiting at home to figure it out . . . wasn’t working for me. I had to leave!” That burst out of her more strongly than she’d meant it to.

“But why Scandia?” Now Agnippe sounded upset. “I’ll never see you! And what will you do, if you discover your true calling – something other than weaving – once you’re there? You’ll be stuck!”

Nerine wasn’t sure which of those concerns to address first.

“I won’t be stuck,” she insisted. “How would the norns be seeking a handmaiden unless the previous one had left?”

“You’re going to them without making a real commitment?” Agnippe sounded shocked, no doubt because her own commitment to her spring had been so immediate and intense.

“I don’t go lightly,” Nerine contended. “I shall learn all that they need me to, that I may fulfill my duties well. I shall give them the best that is in me. And I have some skill with textiles already.”

Agnippe’s brow wrinkled. “But . . .”

Nerine swirled her right foot in the cool water. “Eilidh is everything a handmaiden is meant to be, but some of the others . . . are not. Some are too intimidated by the divine presence. Some are there on Olympus for what they can gain for themselves. Some . . . may grow into their roles. But I doubt that all of them will stay to attend on Hera forever. Even our sister may one day wish for something different.”

“That’s true,” Agnippe assented. “But it’s a little different, isn’t it? Queen Hera must have more than three dozen handmaidens. The norns . . .”

“. . . will just have me,” finished Nerine.

Agnippe snorted. “You’ll never be a ‘just’ anything,” she said.

Nerine laughed. “Why, thank you!”

They hung in the water, silent for a moment, the golden dapples on the spring’s floor shifting below them.

“I see your point,” Nerine admitted. “I know nålbindning and embroidery. I am proficient with a ground loom.” She glanced at her sister. Was she revealing too much? Would Agnippe follow up with awkward questions?

No, Agnippe was merely listening – intently – interested in where Nerine was going with this, not worrying about details such as how her sister had learned to use a ground loom.

“I am careful and neat. But the norns will be teaching me . . . more than I can well imagine.” She shook her head. Weaving was one thing. Weaving fate? Something wholly beyond her experience. “If I were going to them with the intention to leave, I would be wronging them. But, Agnippe” – her voice cracked, ever so slightly – “I don’t think I will sort myself out for . . . years. If ever.”

Sudden strain shadowed Agnippe’s eyes.

“I believe I’ll be in Scandia for . . . quite some time.” Nerine squeezed Agnippe’s hand – still in hers – again. She hated to see her sister looking so worried for her and injected a jolly tone to her words. “I promise I’ll come visit you! And . . .” more seriously “. . . I do think that weaving fate with the norns is right for me. For now, even if not for ever.”

Agnippe nodded more slowly. “I think I see,” she said. “I just wish . . . you had an easier current to swim.”

Nerine sighed again, then became brisk. “So do I!”

They laughed together.

It was good – so good – to understand and be understood, to connect at depth with a friend – who also happened to be a sister.

* * *

To purchase and read Fate’s Door: Amazon

For another chapter cut from Fate’s Door, Eilidh and the Olympians, see:
Update on Fate’s Door



A Question for International Visitors

I’ve started using a “universal” link for the Amazon store. When you click on the link, it will direct you to the Amazon store that serves the country where you live. In theory.

What I want to know is this: does it do so in practice?

NASA image of the world

Why did I make this change?

As time passes, readers in more and more countries are finding my books and buying them. I was providing links to the Amazon store in each country where readers were finding my work. When this was a matter of 4 or 5 or even 8 different store fronts, that method made sense.

But now that I need to include links for 10 of the 13 Amazon stores, I suspect that picking through the long list of links is a pain for anyone who uses an Amazon that isn’t the first one on the list ( or the last one (Amazon UK).

I want finding and clicking a link to be super easy.

BUT…if the universal link does not work properly, then it is no good at all.

I know it works beautifully in the US. That’s where I live, so I can test it.

But does it work in the UK? Does it work in France? What about Germany? Or Japan?

If you buy your books from an Amazon other than, I’d love it if you’d try out the universal Amazon link on one of my books, note whether or not it directs you to the correct store, and then post a comment here to tell me what happened.

(Or email me – j dot neygrimm at yahoo dot com.)

All the links in this post – except two – are universal links to my books, so you can just click one. 😉

I’ll be so very grateful!


Thank you!


5 New Books!

5 New Titles

I read about the Liliana Nirvana technique more than a year ago, in August 2014, on the blog of SF author Hugh Howey.

The technique is simply described: release 5 new books on the same day or one after the other with little delay in between. The idea is to boost your visibility to readers. Howey said this about it: “You hit bookstore shelves with a handful of titles at once, and they prop each other up. They direct attention toward each other. They amplify your signal.”

I decided to try it, and I’ve been working continuously toward my own 5-title release since that day.

Now – more 14 months later – my 5 new stories are finally available on Amazon! I’m thrilled, because I hit a patch in the middle of my preparations when I began to wonder if I’d ever pull it off.

I’ve priced each title at 99 cents for release week to give my most assiduous readers a chance at a deal. I’ll raise the prices on the longer works when the initial spate of sales slows.

Here they are for your reading pleasure. 😀

Hunting Wild200 pxYoung Remeya worships the forbidden horned god. A worship made taboo half a millennium ago. Performed still in secret by a few. Quietly tolerated by the king. Epic fantasy in which old beliefs and old loyalties clash with hidden magic in the Middle Ages of the god-touched North-lands.

Ebook at Amazon

Paperback at Amazon

Serpent web cover 200Once she stalked the duat by Ra’s side, carrying his light in her eyes and battling the monsters that assailed them. Now, tormented by confusion and her own fury, she longs to regain the unique powers which – inexplicably – elude her in captivity. In this mythic tale of pride and revelation, a fight beyond death delivers one last chance at redemption.

Ebook at Amazon

Paperback at Amazon

Glory web cover 200Caught in a cold and snow-shrouded wilderness, far from home, Ivvar confronts the woman he once cherished and an ancient scourge of the chilly woodlands in a complicated dance of love and death. Ivvar’s second chance at happiness – and his life – hang in the balance.

Ebook at Amazon

Paperback at Amazon

Fate's Door, web cover 200Secrets, like troubles, come in threes. Nerine, a sea nymph of the ancient world, knows too much about both. Love and coming of age in a mythic Mediterranean where the gods and goddesses of old shape history.

Ebook at Amazon

Paperback coming soon!

Amber cover 200When young Fae awakens in a locked and deserted castle, she remembers nothing. Who she is, where she comes from, none of it. A mythic tale of family and betrayal told with all the twists and moments of sheer joy that belong in epic fantasy.

Ebook at Amazon

Paperback at Amazon

The Ancient Goths

When Nerine, the sea nymph protagonist of Fate’s Door, traveled across Europe in the 4th century BC, I needed to know who she would encounter on her journey.

The first part of her route along the Vardar through Macedonia (Paionía) was fairly simple. (The river was called the Bardarios then.) The Paíones living there had adopted the customs of their Hellene neighbors. Their architecture and dress were similar. They were said by the people of the time to be tougher and more hard-working than the southerners, that quality being the main difference between them.

The Keltoi of central Europe required more research, but there is a lot of information about these proto-Celts.

After Nerine crossed the Carpathian Mountains, she entered the lands of the Gutones. The information on the Gutones is much scarcer than I would have preferred.

Scandian Stone Circle

The Gutones lived in Poland along the Vistula River (the Istula, according to the ancient Greeks) and on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Early historians spoke of them as migrating south from Scandia (Sweden).

There are three potential spots discussed by more modern historians as origination points.

Götaland, or Gothland, a southeastern region of Sweden, provides a likely homeland for the ancient Goths. Equally possible are the lands along the river called Göta älv (the River of the Geats). And then there is the island named Gotland.

There seems to be no definitive answer, but what is certain is that these Scandinavian tribes arrived in Poland sometime before 750 BC and slowly spread southward and eastward, eventually arriving on the shores of the Black Sea.

Map  of Gothic Expansion

Jordanes, a historian of ancient Rome in the 6th century AD, wrote a comprehensive account of the Goths. He possessed Gothic ancestry and was eager to show that Goths came of a past as glorious as that of the Romans, so one must assume that some of his narrative is fictional. And in any case, his description of Gothic culture concerns the Goths of his time, rather than the Gutones of Nerine’s time, some thousand years earlier.

Today’s historians think that the Goths (or Gutes or Geats or Gutones – the ancients had many variants) did not come south and overwhelm the existing peoples living in northern Poland, but simply settled there peaceably, slowly assimilating their culture, as well as influencing it.

As the map above shows, by 334 BC (the year of Nerine’s journey), the Gutones had expanded their reach from the shore of the Baltic Sea along the Vistula River. I chose the island Gotland as their original homeland, and then started researching the Przeworsk culture of the people with whom the Gutones mingled.

Gutones settlement(The ancient Greeks used the term Gutones for the Goths, and thus I chose their term, rather than any of the other many variants.)

The Przeworsk peoples, and thus – likely – the Gutones as well, lived in small, unprotected villages of just a few houses and with a population of only a few dozen. They knew the technology for digging and building wells, so they did not have to live near water, but the Vistula River would have served as a natural conduit for trade.

Their houses were fashioned from logs and were usually set partially below ground level.

GutonesThe one photograph I could find – of a museum display – showed the people wearing more solid-colored clothing than the Keltoi, although the lady of the pair sports a skirt of “window-pane” plaid, while the gent possesses a more complex variant on the same pattern on his mantle.

I did find mention of colorful straps created by tablet weaving which were used to make straps and belts, and to edge garments. I also discovered that archeological evidence indicated that nearly every individual among the Gutones carried a comb in a pouch on his or her person and used it frequently to keep his or her long hair – worn loose or with the front locks pulled back in a bun – tangle free.

Taking all this and swirling it in my imagination, I came up with a peaceable people with a calm and disciplined character, practical and much less fiery than the Keltoi living south of the Carpathians.

Stone Circle in PolandThe people of the Przeworsk culture followed a tradition of erecting circles of standing stones, and these were used to conduct general assemblies in which decisions affecting the whole village or several villages were made.

The northerners from Scandia evidently possessed this tradition as well. They also shared the practice of erecting lone standing stones or menhirs.

Standing Stone in the Czech RepublicBut the purpose such stones served is much debated. Were they used in rites of sacrifice? Were they territorial markers? Were they elements of a complex ideology? Did they mark graves? Did they commemorate great heroes?

The later seems to have been part of the Scandinavian tradition. But I could find no definitive answer for the standing stones of Poland, merely that they form a remarkable part of the landscape.

One tradition the Gutones brought with them from the north was the burial mound. The Przeworsk culture before them cremated their dead, placed the ashes in an urn, and then buried the urn in a cemetary. The Gutones also favored cremation – although their funerary rites were not uniform – but they placed jewelry, glassware, pottery, fibulae, and their characteristic bone combs within the mound erected over the ashes of the dead.

Sulm valley tumulusSometimes a standing stone was placed atop the burial mound; sometimes a ring of them encircled it. When Nerine descends from the Carpathians, her first encounter with the culture of the Gutones is the sight of a burial mound in the forested foothills. Although, the season is autumn for Nerine, and the leaves of the beech trees, golden.

For more about the world of Fate’s Door, see:
Crossing the Danube
The Keltoi of Európi
Vertical Looms
Names in Ancient Greece
Warships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie


Lugh and the Lunasad

Mercury by Hendrick Goltzius, 300 pixelsLugh or Lú was a Celtic god with a long pedigree. He was part of Irish mythology in pre-Christian Ireland, that is, the centuries before 400 AD.

But the Celts arrived in Ireland around 275 BC, bringing their culture and their religious beliefs with them, including Lugh.

The god’s name gives some indication of his journey through time.

The Celts in Gaul and Iberia called him Lugus. The syllable “lo” in Apollo may indicate some connection between Lugh and Apollo, especially because the Indo-European root word of leuk means “flashing light,” and Lugh is believed to derive from leuk.

Yet the meaning “flashing light” seems more likely to refer to lightning than the sun. Indeed, the Breton luc’h and the Cornish lughes both mean “lightning-flash.” (Lugh may have been a predecessor to the Norse god Thor.)

Of even more interest to me was the well-established fact that the Gaulish Lugus was considered by the ancient Romans to be the Gauls’ version of Mercury. Mercury was the patron god of commerce, contracts, eloquence, messages, travelers, and trade.

While the Gaulish Lugus was a master of all arts and oversaw journeys and business transactions.

Vercingetorix  throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar

These mentions of Lugus and Mercury occurred during the time of Julius Caesar in the 1st century BC, roughly 280 years after the events in Fate’s Door. The thing is, while the ancient Greeks of the 4th century BC make mention of the Keltoi, they do not describe the Keltic religious beliefs. I was going to have to do some extrapolating.

My first decision: Lugh’s name. The western Celts in later periods seemed to move toward the ending sound of “g” as is given or “ch” as in chosen. How might the pronunciation of earlier Keltoi who moved east to settle have changed? Did they stay with the “k” sound from from leuk?

Lugus altar stoneSince I really had no true indication – I’d have to guess – I decided to stick with the name used in pre-Christian Ireland, Lugh, rhyming with Hugh. Perhaps we moderns might have spelled the name of my 4th century BC Keltic god as Leu. But I decided to keep it simple. So, Lugh.

There are many stories about Lugh in Irish mythology, but the one that caught my attention concerned Lugh and his foster mother Tailtiu. Tailtiu was the goddess who cleared the plains of Ireland for agriculture.

What if this were a very old story that traveled with the Celts as they left central Europe and was modified to relate to their new surroundings? I could imagine the myth as originating in the lands along the Danube river, where Lugh’s foster mother cleared the plains of what is now Hungary and Romania for agriculture.

Like the Hellenes who created lesser gods associated with local springs and valleys (in addition to their supreme Olympians), so did the Keltoi revere local features. And the most dominant nature goddess would have been Danu, the spirit of the mighty Danube river.

Therefore I mapped the story of the Irish Lugh onto the territories of the Keltoi.

In the 4th century BC of Fate’s Door, Lugh was fostered by Danu. Like the Irish Tailtiu, Danu was exhausted by her labor and unable to fight off the demons of blight and famine. Her son Lugh fought in her stead to preserve his mother’s legacy, but he was overcome and imprisoned. Yet just as the stalk of grain is cut down and springs renewed from the earth after its seed is planted, so does Lugh prevail. He rises to new strength after his capture, defeating the demons, and then presiding as sovereign over the agricultural cycle of fertility.

The Irish Celts celebrated Lugh in a festival that marked the beginning of the harvest season, around the beginning of August. This was the Lunasad, which included visits to nearby holy sites, athletic contests, dance, feasting, trading, and a ritual play enacting Lugh’s fight against the demons of blight and famine.

Hermes LogiosI decided that my Keltoi would celebrate a similar festival. As it happened that Nerine – the heroine of Fate’s Door – would arrive at the stronghold of the Keltic High King in early August, she would naturally participate in that festival. The dancing, the feasting, and the High King’s courtesy to her would delight Nerine, but one of the religious rites would disturb her deeply and propel her further along her inner journey.

Early in my research on the Keltoi, I learned of the connection between Lugus and Mercury and decided that a similar connection existed between Lugh and Hermes. Hermes, as the patron of orators, poets, athletes, invention, travellers and trade, would possess a similar affinity to Lugh. It also worked beautifully with my choice for Nerine to travel across Europe under the protection of an elite cohort of Hermes’ warriors.

For more about Nerine’s world, see:
The Keltoi of Európi
Vertical Looms
Names in Ancient Greece
Warships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie
Merchant Ships of the Ancient Mediterranean


Crossing the Danube

In the 4th century BC, a well-established trade route led from the Aegean Sea across Europe to the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. It was called the Amber Road, because amber washed up on the beaches of the Baltic was brought south along it to the Mediterranean civilizations, where that substance was greatly prized.

Baltic amber with fossil inclusions

The route was not a nicely paved continuous road, of course. Rather it was an established route through the terrain that avoided difficult mountains and hostile peoples, and likely included arrangements with friendly tribes for the purchase of shelter, food for the traders, and fodder for the horses.

One route postulated for the Amber Road connects Italy to the Baltic, but it probably came into use during the dominance of the ancient Romans. My story, Fate’s Door, takes places when the Hellenes were more influential, as well as ancient Persia and other city-states in the eastern Mediterranean.

Map of Europe and the Amber RoadAdditionally, there were established trade routes north from the Aegean following the Vardar River and then the Great Morava River to the Danube.

From the Danube, the River Tisza leads up to the Carpathian Mountains, a relatively gentle, non-alpine series of ridges. The Vistula River flows from the Carpathians to the Baltic, providing a simple last leg of the journey north.

This is the route I envision my heroine Nerine following when she travels with her escort of guards across Europe.

Not all the rivers or all portions of the rivers are navigable by boat, so I have the group riding along roads and paths beside the rivers. Indeed, the Keltoi living in central Europe at the time were famous for their network of roads and the trade that passed along them.

Because the route follows the Vardar from its mouth to its source, and the Great Morava from its source to its mouth, I reasoned that Nerine and her guard would find places near the sources of these streams where the water was relatively shallow and safe to ford. The same could be said of the Tisza and the Vistula.

This was an important point, because the ancient Hellenes focused more on travel by sea than travel by land, and were not the great bridge and aqueduct builders that the ancient Romans were.

The Danube River gave me serious pause. Clearly, since amber was regularly traded during this time (and before), the ancient traders possessed a way to cross the Danube. But there would be no fording it or wading it. How would they get themselves, their supplies, and their trade goods to the other bank?

Danube River in Ritopek, Serbia

Nerine comments that the Danube must more than 4 stadia wide when she first sees it. That is, more than half a mile, or close to a kilometer, from bank to bank.

I researched river boats in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, and discovered that the peoples of central Europe had them and made extensive use of them for both fishing and river trade.

But what were these boats like? Could they have carried the horses of traders (or those of Nerine and her escort) across the Danube?

Luckily for me, a group of experimental archaeologists decided to construct a “sewn-plank” boat from the Bronze Age. It was a sea-going vessel, but seemed a reasonable proto-type for the boats the Keltoi may have plied on the Danube and the navigable reaches of the Great Morava and other rivers, for trade and for hunting the vast sturgeon that swam those waters on the cusp between pre-history and history.

Bronze Age Morgawr

Their boats were no mere hollowed-out tree trunks, but skillfully constructed vessels using thick planks, an intricate system of cleats and slots to fit the timbers together, and “ropes” of yew withies, passed through holes in the wood and knotted to bind the planks together.

Moss was used to fill the seams between the planks, and beeswax to seal the yew withy “stitches.” The video below shows how these stitches were made.

The experimental archaeologists were successful in their project, and they used authentic tools and methods in their building of the Morgawr. The news coverage of the boat’s launch calls it a shaky maiden voyage, but I believe they were taking some journalist license to gain an attention-catching headline. The Morgawr was expected to ship water until the timbers swelled and shut the inevitable leaks.

These sewn-plank boats were large, roughly 50 feet long (16 meters) and 8 feet wide (2.5 meters).

But, but, but!

Their method of construction meant that the bottom was chock full of blocky cleats. As I stared at the photo, I couldn’t imagine a horse stepping into the vessel easily and then standing there patiently on the uneven footing, while the boat swayed and moved on the water.

Nerine, her guards, and their material goods could cross the river in these boats. I would have to find another way for the horses. Could they swim?

The first thing that came to mind were the ponies of Assateague Island off the coast of Virginia in the United States. The ponies are tough and semi-wild. And every year in the summer, they are rounded up to swim across the sea channel between Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island.

How wide was this channel? And how long did it take the ponies to swim it?

That information was readily found. The channel is roughly half a mile across and it takes about 4 minutes for a pony to swim it.

The mounts of the ancient Greeks were small and tough, like the Chincoteague ponies, closer to the primitive horse than the highly bred horses of our modern era. They had black manes, tails, and legs. Their body color was golden brown with a black stripe along the back from the neck to the tail.

It seemed clear that just as the Chincoteague ponies could swim the Assateague Channel, so the horses of Nerine’s cohort could swim the Danube.

Equus ferus caballus pony

I had found the way for Nerine, the Poniró Peltastés (Nerine’s escort guards), their supplies, and their mounts to cross the Danube.

But the Danube is a mighty river with the powerful current that a large roil of water produces. Adventure awaits those who dare its dynamic flow! 😀

For more about Nerine’s world, see:
Vertical Looms
Names in Ancient Greece
Warships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie
Merchant Ships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Garb of the Sea People

For more about sewn-plank boats, see:
Noth Ferriby’s Bronze Age Boats
The Ferriby Boats
The Morgawr

For more about the primitive horse, see:
The Polish Primitive Horse
The Mongolian Wild Horse

For more about the Chincoteague ponies, see:
The Chincoteague Pony
Assateague Island National Seashore
Chincoteague Island Pony Swim


The Keltoi of Európi was very late to this party.

For decades I thought of Celtic culture as located in the British Isles. You might tour Scotland to see sites and artifacts of the Picts and the Gaels, or Ireland to hear Celtic music, or Wales to visit Celtic burial mounds.

I remember I was confused when I saw that the album notes in Loreena McKennit’s The Book of Secrets referred to her exploration of Celtic music in Spain and Morocco. “There were Celts in Spain?!” I thought. “That makes no sense!”

Yes, I was clueless. I did enlarge my idea of where Celtic culture might be found on the globe.

But it was not until my heroine in Fate’s Door was due to travel across Európi that I adjusted my skewed view to mesh with reality. Why I didn’t remember that the ancient Greeks referred to the tribes north of the Hellenic penninsula as Keltoi, I’ll never know.

No, that’s not true. I have a terrible memory. Of course I didn’t remember a detail like that.

The moment Nerine set off from the Isles of Pelagie (the three islands in the Mediterranean between Italy and Tunisian), I started researching. First the geography around Mount Olympus, because she would come to land there, and then the Keltoi living in lands both north and south of the Danube.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the origin of the Celtic peoples was in central Europe in the 8th century BC. I studied various maps showing the spread of their cultural ideas, expanding slowly from what is now Austria, to encompass France and Hungary, and – eventually – Persia, Spain, and then the British Isles.

Celts in Europe

Once Nerine reached the Great Morava River (the Moirios), she would be traveling through the lands of the Keltoi, the Keltic tribes. And she would not leave the Keltoi until she crossed the Carpathian Mountains.

(I use the word Celtic when referring to modern day Celts, but Keltic when referring to the ancient Keltoi.)

So what about these Keltoi of Európi? What were they like? There’s a fair amount of archeological evidence from which to draw knowledge.

Celtic_Gold-plated_Disc,_Auvers-sur-Oise,_Val-d'OiseThey possessed the fiery temperament one associates with the Celts, liking a good fight, and some portion of them were red-headed. More were blond. They wore plaid cloaks and golden torcs. They used spiraling patterns or decoration on their jewelry, weapons, home furnishings, and grave goods. In fact, they were recognizably Celtic, even to my modern eye.

The ancient Greeks viewed the Keltoi as barbarians, yet their cultural mores were not barbaric, but rather remarkably civilized. They possessed a monetary system, they maintained extensive trade routes through their territories and traded tin, lead, iron, silver, and gold for amber from the north, silk from the east, and copper from the Aegean. Women’s roles were less circumscribed than for their counterparts in Hellenic society, some of them pursuing warrior’s training, a few even holding power as kings.

Pliny credited the Keltoi with the invention of soap, saying that they cleansed themselves regularly and often – but with soap and water rather than oil and strigil.

golden torcThey were sophisticated enough to have evolved differentiated social classes: a warrior aristocracy; an intellectual stratum including druids, poets, and jurists; and everyone else.

Of course, what primarily interested me were the elements that my heroine Nerine would notice. What did their houses look like? What clothes did they wear? What hospitality would they offer guests?

I discovered that one of their gods, Lugh, was equated with the Hellenic Hermes, the god of trade, roads, and travelers, among other things. Since Nerine was traveling under the protection of Hermes, this seemed an excellent motive for friendly relations between her party and the Keltic leaders, especially since the Keltoi engaged in trade so thoroughly.

Thorsberg costumeThe Keltoi wore clothing woven of wool and linen and, sometimes, among the wealthy, silk. The weave of the fabric was often very fine and even. Men wore tunics and trews, the trews sometimes footed, to cover the feet as socks might. These inner garments might be either solid or plaid, but the cloak worn over them generally was plaid. In especially bitter weather, another cloak of sheepskin went atop the wool cloak.

Nerine’s travel garments were modeled after those recovered from the Thorsberg moor, fine garments deposited as votive offerings, but likely of the quality worn by kings. The Thorsberg tunic and trews were solid cream, while I made Nerine’s a soft plaid of white and cream. The Thorsberg cloak was woven in blues, Nerine’s in greens.

0877_Keltische_Frau_im_3._Jh._v._ChrKeltic women wore dresses or a tunic and skirt, often with a plaid scarf pinned by a brooch. Like the men, they donned a light wool cloak in summer, a heavier one together with sheepskin in winter. Both men and women wore belts, leather for ordinary folk, braided gold or silver for the nobility. Boots were rare, but carefully fashioned leather shoes, common. Women wore trews when they rode horses.

I found two reconstructions of Keltic dwellings. The one – in Havranok, Slovakia – features log walls and roofs seemingly formed of stacked twig bundles. I took this style for my Keltoi living in the lands south of the Danube along the Great Morava.


The other style – from a reconstruction in Altburg, Germany – showed half-timbered walls, with panels of plastered wattle-and-daub, and thatched roofs. I took these buildings as models for the Keltoi villages north of the Danube along the Tisza River.

Bund-ro-altburg-BAll of the Keltic settlements were clustered around the hill fort of their chieftain or king.

The Keltoi as a people venerated hundreds of gods and goddesses, because their gods tended to be local: the deity of a particular lake or spring or grove. River goddesses were particularly popular, and thus the goddess of the Danube would have been honored by many tribes. Certain skills – such as smithing, the use of weapons, and the gift for bardic poetry – were also believed to possess an animating divinity, giving rise to gods such as Lugh, reputed to be many-skilled.

Nerine arrives at the settlement of the Keltic high king on the day of Lugh’s festival and participates in the celebration, much of which enchants her, although its conclusion disturbs and disgusts her.

For more about Nerine’s world, see:
Names in Ancient Greece
Warships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie
Merchant Ships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Garb of the Sea People
Measurement in Ancient Greece


Update on Fate’s Door

Fate's Door, web cover 200My second reader gave me feedback on Fate’s Door this Monday, and I am now in the final round of revision. I’m excited!

Both my first reader and second reader are fantastic. They see any problem areas that escape my perception, and often have great suggestions for how to fix them. All my books are better, because of their contributions.

Each had kind words to say about Fate’s Door, and my second reader waxed lyrical about how good the ending made her feel.

I estimate that my revsions will take me 3 weeks. Proofreading will take another week. And then I’ll be uploading the files to Amazon. Woot woot! 😀

I’m aware, of course, that I originally named September as my release month. (For Fate’s Door and my other four upcoming books.) And then I thought October was likely.

Now October has arrived, and I’m aiming for November.

The difference between the previous estimates and this one is that the remaining tasks are all under my control. When I’m waiting on my kind readers – who are generous volunteers, after all – I must respect the fact that they have their own full lives, into which they wedge the beta reading of my books. Which means there is some degree of uncertainty as to when I’ll receive their feedback.

Since I write full time, I can now pound from dawn to dusk, galloping toward the finish line.

Among myriad other revisions, I’ve cut four chapters from the middle of the book. I love the scenes in them, but they possess too little action and slow the pace of the story in a place where the pace needs to be brisk. So out they go. Fate’s Door will be better without them.

However, I think that some of you who frequent my blog might enjoy them as vignettes from Nerine’s world, so I’m going to follow in other writers’ footsteps and share some of the cut chapters here.

I’ll need to review the cut material for spoilers, but the old chapter 18 doesn’t have any.

Eilidh is Nerine’s bossy elder sister.

18 ~ Eilidh and the Olympians

After nearly two déka-days of travel beneath the sea, they arrived at Thérma and went ashore, a little to the south of the port of the land people.

The water of the lagoon where they tethered the chariot was very still, and the strip of sand, between the water and the glade of arbutus and olive trees, very narrow.

The moment Nerine and her escort breached the air, the sweet sounds of pipes, backed by the beat of drums and the murmur of strings, met them.

Nymphs danced across dappled grass to greet them and draw them toward a festal table, laden with tureens of berries, platters of cakes, and carafes of wine.

“Welcome! Welcome!” called their hosts.

Nerine was not permitted to feed herself. The merry crowd popped morsels into her mouth as first one and then another twirled by her. Then she was drawn into the dance and passed from one laughing maiden to another. She never managed to distinguish one individual from another – they were all white-frocked and curly-tressed and constantly in motion. When Nerine eventually came to rest, they garbed her in one of the gowns of her trousseau – of aqua silk, with many draping folds – and led her away to a clearing where a winged horse awaited her, chafing and stamping.

She was allowed a mere moment to bid the sea warriors farewell before the nymphs boosted her onto the pegasus’ back, one of them climbing up behind her.

“Grab his mane,” instructed the nymph.

Nerine grabbed. The horse hairs felt almost silken against her palms and fingers, but they were very strong, and not slippery.

The downsweep of their steed’s wings sounded thunderous in her ears, drowning the ever-playing music. Her spine compressed as the creature leaped into the air. Then they were aloft, and it was magical, more amazing than the time she’d climbed the stairs to the top of the beacon tower on Altairos’ island.

The pegasus flew far higher, circling up and up, so that she could see the canopy of the green woodland stretching away below, and the land dwellers’ city at its edge to the north, strange and different, with fluted columns and triangular pediments and double-slanting roofs.

The air was all about her, like water, but more invigorating, the sun dazzling her eyes. She felt breathless and wondered if she should worry about falling, but her steed’s back was very broad and secure, and the nymph behind her had wrapped steadying arms around Nerine’s waist.

She gave herself over to the wonder of traveling the sky. Was this why Lord Zeus had chosen to rule the airs above the ground, when he and his brothers divided the world between them?

In the distance, a vast mountain rose, its slopes green and steep, its rocky peak gleaming with snow. Mount Olympus, the seat of the gods themselves. Nerine could hardly believe that she would be a guest there. It had always seemed a far-off reality that bided on the fringes of her experience, never destined to come closer, certainly never to approach her very center. But here she was.

The pegasus soared at a tremendous speed, although the winds seemed to part for it, never tousling Nerine’s hair. And the mountain slope drew rapidly nearer, the peak towering far overhead, its skirts plunging far below.

They landed in a cup of flower-strewn meadow just below the rocky cliffs of the peak, greeted by yet more white-clad maidens, although these were more stately than the nymphs in the celebration by the shore.

When Nerine caught sight of her eldest sister – Eilidh – she realized that these were Queen Hera’s handmaidens, and that she had been granted great honor.

Eilidh came forward first, her white gown glinting with threads of silver, and a tiara of pearls in the complicated braids and swirls of her pinned-up blond hair. She looked even more grand than when she’d departed home, with more dignity in her carriage, a loftier tilt to her chin.

Nerine prepared herself to withstand her sister’s airs and graces. This wasn’t home. She couldn’t be rude when Eilidh was condescending.

But Eilidh was not condescending.

Her face held genuine pleasure, and her embrace felt sincere.

“Queen Hera bids you welcome and invites you to enjoy the hospitality of her abode, whilst the preparations for your journey to Scandia move toward their completion,” said Eilidh. The words were formal – likely had to be, under the circumstances – but her tone was warm.

Apparently Eilidh had been changed, and for the better, by her sojourn under Hera’s rule.

She introduced Nerine to her companion handmaidens – Akráia, Argéia, and so on – but there were too many and Nerine lost the names almost as soon as Eilidh spoke them.

“You must be tired, dear sister,” said Eilidh. “It is a long journey from Pelagie to Olympus. Let us attend to you and soothe your cares and aches.” She linked her arm through Nerine’s and guided her into the trees at the edge of the meadow and along a winding path, the handmaidens following behind them.

Nerine was not tired, still exhilarated by her ride through the sky, but she was willing to fall in with whatever plans had been made for her.

A cool breeze rustled the leaves above, and the clear clean scents of northern flowers rose from mossy ground between the tree trunks, so different from the warmer dusty, musky aromas of Pelagie.

After a short walk, they arrived at a circular shrine set in amongst the trees. Two shallow steps led up to a low dais where fluted columns upheld the domed roof. Within, carved screens surrounded a center fountain.

The handmaidens pinned Nerine’s hair to her head, removed her gown, and led her into the fountain to bathe.

The water felt strange on her skin, cool and almost too pure, with an edge to its purity.

It must be fresh water, not salt, she realized.

When she emerged from the bath, the handmaidens smoothed unguents perfumed with wild cucumber – a mild, bracing scent – into her skin and brought yet another gown, this one of pale green silk, to clothe her.

They guided her to a square shrine at the end of another forest path. No screens sequestered its heart within the surrounding columns, and Nerine could see divans and low tables scattered upon rich carpets. Eilidh awaited her there, insisting that she recline while another handmaiden brushed Nerine’s hair, and a third offered her rose-infused water to drink.

Nerine accepted a few sips of the infusion, enjoying its lovely and light flavor, but then insisted that she needed nothing more to eat or drink. There had been plenty at the party on the shore. The handmaiden with the brush and comb was very gentle, and the sensation of the implements against the few tangles in Nerine’s curly tresses, pleasant.

Eilidh, perched gracefully on a low stool beside Nerine’s divan, chattered about life in Hera’s cortege. It seemed to consist of welcoming a constant stream of visitors, serving as a subsidiary host at the many feasts, amusing Hera herself with song or poetry or dancing, and occasionally running errands for her.

It sounded repetitious to Nerine, and lacking in solitude, but Eilidh seemed to like it.

Eilidh did ask Nerine to tell her all about events at home and about Nerine’s decision to accept a position with the norns, but Eilidh’s habits were against her. Despite her sister’s real interest in Nerine’s answers, she didn’t have much practice in listening.

The handmaiden with the rosewater took over the conversation, asking Nerine questions and listening attentively.

There wasn’t really much to say about events at home, and Nerine had no intention of sharing her private tragedy, but the handmaiden was intrigued by Nerine’s accounts of nålbindning knitting. She persuaded her to demonstrate the skill, using a beautiful peach-hued silk yarn.

At the evening feast, Nerine saw more clearly how well her sister fit into her setting.

*     *     *

The banquet was held in a large temple on a rocky ridge above the trees. The building was structured in the way that Nerine was learning was typical amongst the Olympians: a low plinth reached by three shallow steps, with fluted columns set in far enough to create a surrounding walkway. The rectangular shape seemed far more common than the round one of the shrine where she had bathed, or the square one where she had rested.

The banquet hall was not only rectangular, but huge! Perhaps as large as the entire central court of King Zeron’s palace. Stone walls sheltered the space within the columns, but its many doors stood open, providing magnificent views over the nearby ridges as the sun set.

Nine of the greatest Olympians occupied their magnificent divans, but Nerine – attending under Hera’s aegis – was presented only to Queen Hera.

Queen Hera’s divan, elevated on a low dais, was fashioned of scented applewood and adorned with peacock feathers, the metallic blues and greens of their eyes glinting in the light of the many oil lamps. The queen herself did not recline, but sat erect when Eilidh drew Nerine forward.

Hera’s gown of garnet silk embroidered with gold lilies complemented her statuesque beauty, but it was her immense presence – like the majesty that hung around King Zeron, but far, far greater – that made Nerine’s knees tremble as she executed a land person’s bow.

Hera merely nodded her acknowledgement and addressed the cupbearer offering her cherries. Her voice was low and sweet.

Eilidh guided Nerine to a divan in those clustered around the dais, seated her, and returned to the queen’s side.

Cupbearers served Nerine – the delicacies prepared for the tables of the gods were exceptional, perfectly toasted meringues, stained “glass” panes made of crystallized honey, and so on – but Nerine’s focus remained on her sister.

Eilidh conversed with Queen Hera. She delivered a particularly succulent apricot half from Hera to Lord Zeus. She played the lyre at the queen’s request. She circulated amongst Hera’s guests, even returning to Nerine for an interval to converse about the special bond between the pegasi and the muses.

Eilidh performed all her duties flawlessly, but that was not what riveted Nerine’ s attention. It was Eilidh’s demeanor. At home in the reef palace, Eilidh’s haughtiness had annoyed Nerine nearly every day. It had seemed conceited and pretentious.

On Mount Olympus – with nine of the greater gods looking on, each of whom bore the astounding majesty that mantled Hera, a few sustaining even weightier potency – Eilidh’s pride looked very different.

It wasn’t pride, Nerine realized.

It had transmuted into self-respect.

And not all of Hera’s handmaidens possessed enough. One blushed furiously whenever Hera’s attention fell on her. Another giggled too often. Yet another angled for the divine attention, hoping to curry favor.

Eilidh’s demeanor was perfect, conveying reverence for the great beings she served, while yet reserving recognition for her own worth.

And that was why Eilidh could now greet her once-disdained sister with genuine warmth. Eilidh lived in circumstances which both fed and demanded dignity, and thus no longer needed to exercise her talents inappropriately.

Eilidh truly had found home.

* * *


Vertical Looms

Nanjing brocade loomMy fates in Fate’s Door are spirits of time and thus less anchored within time as is everyone else. Many of the materials they weave into their tapestry of the world come from sources in the future or the distant past. Their loom is itself from the future, a vast floor loom in the style used by weavers of Nanjing brocade.

But Fate’s Door is set in the 4th century BC, which means that the peoples of the Mediterranean world are using vertical looms.

Icelandic warp-weighted loomMy heroine, the sea nymph Nerine, is familiar with the ground loom – the earliest loom developed, dating from 6000 BC – because one of her land dwelling friends prefers the ground loom. But when Nerine visits the land palace on Lapadoússa, she sees only vertical looms in use.

Now the scenes of my story, when they include work at a loom, feature only Calla’s ground loom and the massive beast of a loom at which the three fates weave. The vertical loom remains merely an offstage presence. But I wanted to know more about it, because it would set Nerine’s expectations for what a loom is and what she would imagine the fate’s loom to be.

On a vertical loom, the long warp strands hang from a high bar which is supported by two sturdy posts. This frame can be upright and steadied by framed footings or leaned against a wall.

The warp threads themselves are kept taut by weights tied onto the end of each bundle of threads. Often extra thread might be wound around these weights. Since the cloth was woven from top to bottom, the weaver might wind the finished cloth around the top bar and then unwind more thread from each weight, allowing her to weave a cloth longer than the loom was high.

Saxon Loom Weights

A heddle bar at roughly waist height allows the weaver to pull every other warp thread forward and then pass the weft thread across, with half the warp on front of it and the other half behind if. Moving the heddle bar back allows the foremost warp threads to fall back, creating an alternate “shed” through which to pass the weft.

Heddle on a Vertical Loom

Using a vertical loom required more strength than weaving at a ground loom, because the weaver must stand, she must reach up to weave the first portion of her cloth (a tiring position), and she must walk back and forth, if her cloth is wide.

Ancient Greek vaseArtemidorus Daldianus, a Hellene diviner of the 2nd century AD, said that dreaming of a vertical loom meant an upcoming journey, while dreaming of a ground loom or a backstrap loom meant rest. No doubt because of all the walking that weavers did during their days.

In the video below, the weaver (in ancient Hellene garb) is weaving a coarse cloth with coarse thread, but the ancients were capable of spinning their flax and their wool very fine. And their cloth of these threads or of imported silk could be a very high quality, especially if it was destined for the use of a wealthy household.

For more about the world of Fate’s Door, see:
Warships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie
Merchant Ships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Garb of the Sea People
Measurement in Ancient Greece
Horse Sandals and the 4th Century BC


Names in Ancient Greece

The_Three Fates - Paul ThumannThe first stages of dreaming up a new story, for me, usually start with the question, “Where?”

When I wrote Troll-magic, the answer to that question was, “The enchanting place I see in the paintings by Kay Nielsen.” I had to invent that world, of course, and it became my North-lands.

Fate Door began a little more strangely. I was trying a writerly trick known to spark stories a little different from what a writer normally comes up with.

The trick?

Look around the room you are in. Pick an item that catches your attention. Use it to generate a story.

I’m not going to tell you the object that caught my eye. It would act as a spoiler, and I definitely don’t want to spoil my own story for you!

However, the object very quickly led me to my usual question, “Where?” The where was the cottage of the three fates. And the who was the sea nymph working as the fates’s handmaiden.

forest cottage

Once I got that far, I needed a name for my sea nymph. I decided to look amongst the names of sea nymphs mentioned in Greek mythology. There are hundreds of them! The nymphs in Poseidon’s harem. The nymphs in Tethys’ retinue. The nymphs who reared Hera as a child. And on and on. I made a list of the ones I liked best.

Most of them had meanings, many of the meanings quite similar. There was Romy ‘dew of the sea,’ Inara ‘ray of light,’ and Marilla ‘shining sea.’ But the one I chose was Nerine, meaning simply ‘sea nymph.’

Since the first scenes of my novel took place in the cottage of the fates, I needed names for the fates, a good idea of what the cottage looked like, and then I was ready to write.

Gregale_cliffs_lampedusaI wrote the events in the cottage, and I discovered that I needed to take Nerine back into her memories and write about her childhood in the Middle Sea (the Mediterranean). So long as she stayed within the bosom of her family, her first name alone was enough. But when she ventured further afield, I needed more.

Since the Greek gods and their attendant nymphs were creations of the Hellene culture, I decided that my people of the sea would follow Hellene naming conventions. Which meant I needed to know what they were. My research took some persistence. I didn’t immediately find what I needed. Finally, after much digging, when my frustration was rising, I found the information I sought.

It described the Athenian convention, and the Athenian way seemed good to me, even if other city-states might follow a different variation.

An ancient Athenian would have three names. The first was a personal given name, such as Hypatia, meaning ‘highest’ or ‘exceptional.’

The second name derived from the father’s name. Thus, ‘child of Amyntas.’ (Amyntas means ‘defender.) ‘Child of Amyntas’ would be rendered as Amyntiou.

The third name was the demotic name. That is, it indicated which deme or region of the land around Athens that the family belonged to. Thus, if the family was from Sounion, the demotic name would be Sounieus.

Which gives us Hypatia Amyntiou Sounieus.

Coral Reef

What does this mean for my heroine?

Her father’s name is Meren, and she lives in the region of Pelagie. Thus . . .

Nerine Merenou Pelagieus.

When Nerine meets Altairos’ restless older brother, Hilarion, he asks Nerine her name. She must answer in full. It would be improper not to. And my research – eventually – yielded up what she would say. 😀

For more about Nerine’s world, see:
Calendar of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ground Looms
Lapadoússa, an isle of Pelagie
Merchant Ships of the Ancient Mediterranean
Garb of the Sea People
Measurement in Ancient Greece
Horse Sandals and the 4th Century BC
Knossos, Model for Altairos’ Home

Photo credit for the woodland surrounding the cottage above: Forest by Ian Britton, used under a Creative Commons license from