Wendy reviews ‘Axios’ (A Spartan Tale) by Jaclyn Osborn. Self published July 19, 2017, 362 pages.
I am Axios of Sparta, and I was born to kill. At age seven, I left home to train with other boys where we were taught obedience, solidarity, military strategy, and how to withstand pain. My harsh upbringing stripped me of my weaknesses and forced me to become strong. Ruthless.
But, I craved something greater—a life I could never have.
Against all odds, and the toughest training a warrior could endure, I found an unexpected love in the arms of a fellow Spartan. He was the very air I breathed and the water that sustained me. Fighting side by side with him, we were invincible. Where he went, I followed.
However, there was no place for love in Sparta. Feelings were for the weak. The only life for a Spartan was one of battle and brutality with no guarantee of tomorrow. In times of war, all men were put to the test, but the greatest challenge for us was not one of swords and spears, but of the heart.
We are so very excited here at RGR to be not only bringing you this incredible story on the day it releases, but also to be able to interview Jaclyn Osborn. She was able to talk her characters Axios and Eryx into graciously answering a few questions as well. Please be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card or an e-book copy of Axios.
Welcome to Rainbow Gold Reviews. I’m so happy that you could all join us here today!
Wendy: Axios, I have to ask, why do you think it took Jaclyn so long to write your story?
Axios: *softly smiles* When I first came to her, she didn’t know what to think of me. I only told her a little about my life, because my story was not easy to tell, and it pained me to remember certain parts of it. Then, other characters came to her and spoke louder, so I stepped aside and allowed them to go first and tell their stories. Nearly four years later, she finally told them all to wait and allowed me the chance to tell mine.
Wendy: Jaclyn, I know that there was an awful lot of research that went into this book, can you tell us a little about that process?
Jaclyn: Omg. Where do I even start with this answer? Haha Before I started writing the book, I bought a textbook about Ancient Greece and read through it just to get the feel for it. This time period has always fascinated me, but I never believed in myself enough to actually write in it, and to be honest, it was intimidating to even consider such a thing. But Axios needed his story told, and I owed it to him. I then bought two more research books, one on the Spartan military and battles fought, and the other on daily life in Sparta. I read them, marked the hell out of them with post-it notes, and kept them right beside me all throughout the writing process. It was over-whelming at times, but I wanted to make sure I did the time period justice and didn’t just bullcrap my way through it.
Wendy: Axios and Eryx, living in your time period and training to be Spartans was a hard life. Is there anything you can share with us about that lifestyle that you think was better then than now? What was the worst for you?
Axios: I am ashamed to admit that the training was harder for me than it was for most others. I did not favor violence and wished to have a more peaceful life. After a while, I got used to the pain of it: the beatings, lashings, and starvation. But the worst part for me was having to kill. Taking a life was never easy, and the faces of the dead haunted me.
Eryx: Although tough, the training never broke me. I knew what was expected of me as a Spartan and I fought to be the best warrior I could be. Others believe our ways were barbaric, but I know they made us stronger. All of Greece feared Sparta because they knew we were the best. Our army was the strongest because warriors were all we were ever taught to be. Nothing else. The worst part of it for me was seeing Axios struggling. His heart is kind and pure, and he was not born for such brutality. But he learned eventually. And I was by his side through it all.
Wendy: You two are such an amazing couple, for those of us that don’t know your backstory, can you tell us a bit about how you became a couple and what it was like to be in a MM relationship in your era?
Axios: Thank you, Wendy. *smiles* I do not wish to spoil anything for those who have not read our story, but we were the greatest of companions before we were ever lovers. We met as boys and our love was one that grew over time. From the moment I first laid eyes on Eryx, I knew he was meant to be in my life. I just hadn’t known how much he would come to mean to me.
Eryx: *grins* Axios does not know this, but I watched him for weeks before I finally spoke to him. He captured my interest, and I could not put him from my mind: the dark haired boy with the most haunting pair of honey eyes. Feelings were seen as weakness in our society, and it took me a while to finally embrace the way I felt for him. As for the last part of your question, men being with men was not unheard of. In fact, it was common for Spartans to take pleasure in each other. However, those relationships were supposed to end once a boy’s beard began to grow, and he was obligated to marry a woman.
Wendy: Jaclyn, this one’s a two parter. 1. What effect if any did writing this book have on you? 2. Do you think you’ll ever take on such a huge project again?
Jaclyn: Writing this book had a huge effect on me. It challenged my skills as a writer, for one. A story such as this could not be written as my other books are written. I had to be mindful of modern words and slang, and I found myself taking on an almost poetic prose with it at times. I am never one to be so confident in my writing, but I can honestly say that this is my best work to date. And I don’t think I can ever top it lol For the second question, I’m not sure yet if I will ever take on a huge project like this again, but I have a feeling I will. I know historicals aren’t that popular, but if a character comes to me, I will write his story. And… I have some ideas for another one 😉
Wendy: Do any of you google yourselves?
Jaclyn: Definitely not lol I’m afraid what I’ll find
Axios: What is google?
Eryx: *bumps Axios’ arm and laughs* Do not let his fake confusion fool you. He is a shameless promo and social media whore.
Axios: *scoffs* I am not.
Eryx: Says the man with a Candy Crush obsession.
Wendy: Axios and Eyrx, any advice for us here in the 21st century?
Axios: *sad smile* Do not take anything for granted. Being born a Spartan male, I had no choice about my life. There were so many things I wished to do and so many places I wished to go, but I was property of the state and the only life allowed for me was one of war and violence.
Eryx: *touches Axios’ hand* My warrior said it all.
Wendy: Jaclyn, what do you want your readers to take from this story?
Jaclyn: Please just give the story a chance. I’ve heard that historicals in the m/m genre aren’t that popular, but please just go into it with an open mind. Within the pages, you will find pain, sorrow, and hardship, but you will also find beauty, laughter, and love. I want readers to see that love is love, no matter the time period. That even when thrown into a hard, dark life, there can be light. Writing Axios and Eryx touched me in a way that no other characters ever had and probably never will.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to come chat with us. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and how happy I am that this book is out in the world now.
“What if I do not wish to be a soldier?” The question came out unexpectedly.
Eryx stopped walking and stared at me with a furrowed brow. “Ax, we have no choice. We may not choose another occupation if we ever wish to become equals in Sparta. Do not let the men ever hear you say such a thing. This is our life. Being a warrior is the greatest of honors. Fighting for our lands, our home… for each other.”
I turned to walk away, but he grabbed me, making me face him.
“Release me, Eryx.”
“No.” His eyes searched my face. “What is really the matter? This is not you.”
I fought for the right words to convey what I felt on the inside. The humiliation of not being as physically fit as him and some of the other boys, my lack of most skills, how the thought of taking another life someday made me queasy, and how the one life I had taken still troubled me—none one of those were traits of a real soldier… of a real Spartan.
“I am nothing. I was not cut from the same gifted cloth as you, Ery. All of this is much more difficult for me.” Frustrated, I kicked at the tall grass and then motioned to myself. “Look at me.”
“I am looking at you, Ax.” Eryx came forward and took hold of my chin, forcing me to look him in the face. “Know what I see?”
I shook my head, ashamed at my show of vulnerability.
He pressed his forehead to mine, still loosely holding my chin. “I see someone who is kind and who stops to see the beauty of the world. Someone who likes to watch the birds fly in the sky, wondering where they go… wondering what it’s like to soar amongst the clouds. I see an intelligent mind who ponders what makes the sky blue and where the sun goes at night. But mostly… I see my truest companion.”
Leaning back a little, I stared into his eyes. “None of that makes me a warrior.”
“A true warrior fights for what’s in his heart.” His fingers trailed along my jaw before he stepped backward. “You may not see it now, but when the time comes for us to go to battle, you will be brave for your heart is bigger than any I know.”
A complimentary ARC copy of this book was given by the author in exchange for an honest review.
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I can honestly that this is the best book that I’ve read all year. It’s one of a handful of books that are on my list of ALL TIME GREAT READS and it’s a story that will stay with me (and you I’m sure) for a very long time to come. Go buy this book! You won’t be sorry. I was so affected by the characters that I was crying before I was done with the first chapter and I cried so many more times throughout the book. Axios and Eyrx are incredible characters. Their lives together, their friends and the harsh times they experienced on a daily basis. Their ability to find love in the world they lived in and the odds they overcame to be Spartans. These guys had it rough and that’s putting it lightly. To have death and sacrifice all around them, fighting for every scrap of food because it’s a luxury not a given. Some of what made them live to actually become Spartan warriors was luck, some was intelligence and strategy and some was pure will power, but it made these men grab on to life with both hands. The story isn’t pretty, but it’s truly a tale of love that is one of the most beautiful stories ever. The story was well thought out and the amount of research that went into this book is evident. Jaclyn Osborn put her all into this one! OMG, I want EVERYONE to read this book!!! It’s absolutely a must read.I gave this 10 Pots Of Gold, but I would have given it more if I could.
Comment below to enter for a chance to win one $20 Amazon gift card or one e-book copy of ‘Axios’ (A Spartan Tale) by Jaclyn Osborn.
Two winners will be randomly chosen.
You need to be 18 years or older to participate. Void where prohibited. Etc.
This giveaway will end on August 6, 2017 at 11:59 PM CDT.
Jaclyn Osborn was born and raised in the state of Arkansas. When not actively writing a new book, she can be found plotting and gaining inspiration for the next story. Writing is her passion and she’s thankful for each day she’s able to live her dream. A firm believer in happy endings and redemption for damaged souls, her boys in her stories mean the world to her, and she’d be lost without them.
All types of genres in the m/m world interest her, in both reading and writing, and she hopes to delve into a few of them in her writing career.