Torn from Troy: Odyssey of a Slave

Torn from Troy

Odyssey of a Slave

by Patrick Bowman


  • February 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-55380-110-8
  • ebook ISBN 978-1-55380-125-2
  • Audiobook available here
  • 5-1/4″ x 7-5/8″ Trade Paperback, 202 pages
  • Young Reader Novel – Ages 9 to 12


Two-and-a half millennia after it was created, Homer’s Odyssey remains one of humanity’s most memorable adventure stories. In this re-creation of Homer’s classic as a young adult novel, we see the aftermath of the Trojan War through the eyes of Alexi, a fifteen-year-old Trojan boy. Orphaned by the war and enslaved by Odysseus himself, Alexi has a very different view of the conquering heroes of legend.

Despite a simmering anger towards his captors, Alexi gradually develops a grudging respect for them. As the Greeks fight off the angry Cicones, weather a storm that pushes them far beyond charted waters, and nearly succumb to the blandishments of the bewitching Lotus-eaters, he realizes that they are not the demons they were said to be, but people like himself.

At the same time, Alexi’s quick thinking, bravery, and the healing skills that he learned from his father prove to his captors that he is no ordinary slave. His key role in their escape from the Cyclops earns the respect of his master, Odysseus, and a striking discovery during their escape gives his life a newfound purpose.

Straddling the boundary between historical fiction and mythology, Torn from Troy is written in a hard, realistic style and brings to life the travails of a bronze-age slave of the Greeks in a form that will appeal especially to teen boys. While this book is the first volume of the author’s Odyssey of a Slave trilogy, it is a compelling and fully-realized work on its own.

“Screw up your courage and screw on your sea legs — there’s a wild ride ahead! Torn from Troy is a kid’s view of one of the best adventure stories ever told.” —Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Rex Zero, The Great Pretender

Ronsdale books by Patrick Bowman:

    1. Torn from Troy: Odyssey of a Slave
    2. Cursed by the Sea God: Odyssey of a Slave, Book II

Arrow Through the Axes

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Torn from Troy

“ALEXI,WAKE UP!” My sister was leaning over me, her lanky
frame silhouetted by the moonlight streaming in the window.
Yesterday’s celebration had run long into the night,
and I mumbled something and rolled over sleepily, face
down on the pine planks.

Melantha shook me again. “I mean it! Listen—something’s

Blinking stupidly, I tried to make sense of the noises from
our narrow window. Sandals scuttering up the alleyway. Further
away, urgent shouts of command. And in the distance,

I got to my feet and leaned out. People were running up
the laneway below, the fear in their faces clear in the moonlight.
The blacksmith’s wife was dragging her two boys by
their wrists, not looking back. A few paces behind, old
Phylion the potter was hobbling along in his nightshirt and
bare feet, cane tapping urgently against the cobbles. The
warm night air was heavy with smoke, and from the direction
of the city gates came a red glow and the bronze clash
of weapons.

I called down to the blacksmith’s wife. “Ascania! What’s
going on?”

She didn’t look up. Her two boys were crying and trying
to turn back as she dragged them grimly up the lane. An
uneasy feeling stirred in my stomach.

From nearby came a splintering crash. We craned our
heads out farther. At the entrance to Pylacon’s smithy a few
doors down, I could just make out the shapes of men in
armour, torches flickering yellow in their hands. Melantha
gasped and wrenched me away from the window. “Lex! Get
down! Those are soldiers!”

“Guards? So—”

She shook her head. “Not city guards. Alexi, those are

“Greeks?” I frowned at her. “The Greeks have gone, remember?
Besides, how would they get over the wall? Fly?”
High as an oak and wide enough for two chariots to race
along the top, the city wall had protected us from the barbarians
beyond it for as long as I could remember.

“You know who it is? Just some guardsmen, coming home
drunk after the party.” The Ilian Guard were notorious. I
yawned and lay back down on the rough woollen blanket
we shared. But as I twisted around, trying to get comfortable,
I caught the hollow crunch of wood splintering nearby
and a woman’s scream, very close. Mela ran to the door
and peered out for a moment, then turned to me, her eyes
white in the darkness. “Alexi, it’s Greeks. I can see them
coming up the alley.We have to get out!”

Another door splintered, closer, and there came a harsh,
commanding voice. “Every doorway, every building! I don’t
want a Trojan squadron coming up our backsides because
one of you troglos missed a house! Now, move! Move!”

I sat up. That was no drunken guardsman.He was speaking
Greek! Sweat started from my brow.

“It’s too late. They’re right across the lane,” Mela whispered
frantically. “They’re checking everywhere. They’ll be
up here in a moment. Alexi, we need to hide!”

I shook off my panic and peered around the darkened
room. Three years of poverty had forced us to sell nearly
everything we owned, leaving only a small corner table and
the battered tripod and pot we ate from. Nothing to hide
us. I glanced at the window but could hear soldiers right

As my hand brushed our tattered blanket, I had an idea.
Rolling off it, I darted into the corner behind the door and
pulled the blanket over my head.

“Mela! Under here!” The moonlight from the window
didn’t reach this far. If we were lucky, they might overlook
a shapeless lump in the corner.

Mela gave a quick nod but ran to overturn our tiny table
and wrench a leg off the stool. As a clatter of brass-nailed
sandals came from the stone staircase outside, she snatched
up her small dagger and dashed over to squat beside me.

I tugged the blanket over our heads just as two Greek soldiers
burst through our door in full battle armour, exploding
into the room like huge bronze bulls, ripping the heavy
door from its leather hinges. It smashed down across my
bare toes and I clenched my teeth to choke off a scream.

The two soldiers prowled around the room, the brass inlays
clanking on their leather-strip skirts. Through a rip in
the blanket’s coarse weave I could see a smoky tallow torch
in the first soldier’s hand. They peered around suspiciously
by its flickering light, their eyes black pools beneath their
bronze helmets. I was too frightened to breathe. We’d all
heard the stories of what the Greeks did to their prisoners.
Struggling not to cough as the oily smoke caught my throat,
I reached over beneath the blanket and clutched Mela’s hand.
Her fingers gripped mine hard.

The second soldier kicked the broken stool, sending it
crashing against the rear wall. “Kopros,” he cursed, glancing
at his companion.“Didn’t I say it would be empty? Let’s go.”
He stalked out and clattered noisily back down the steps.
The soldier with the torch glared around for a moment before
heading for the door. I felt a surge of hope.

Too soon.His foot stamped down hard on the door as he
left, crushing my smashed toes further and sending a fresh
bolt of agony through my foot. He spun toward us at my
gasp, thrusting his smoking torch into our darkened corner.
Melantha didn’t hesitate. Throwing off the blanket, she
leapt to her feet, leaving me hidden.

“Don’t kill me!” she called out, drawing her slender frame
up tall and straight. She swept her hair over her shoulder
with one hand as the other gestured urgently behind her
back for me to stay still. Uncertain, I hesitated.

The soldier stepped back in surprise, his hand leaping
toward his knife. His helmet tilted as he looked her up and
down in her thin shift, and a noise escaped from deep in his
throat. “Hey, Takis!” he called out the door. “You missed

In a single swift motion he reached out and threw her over
one armoured shoulder, then set off through our shattered
doorway, Melantha dangling across his back. As he carried
her out I saw her hand slip into her tunic.

Ignoring the stabbing agony in my foot, I scrambled out
from beneath the heavy door to hear a shriek from outside.
Halfway down the stairs, my sister was hanging off the soldier’s
back, bronze dagger in her hand. Blood spurted from
a wound on the back of his thigh, spattering the pale stone
with droplets that glistened black in the moonlight.

“Filthy kuna!” he shrieked. “I’ll kill you!”He dropped his
torch, grabbing her with both hands to hoist her above his
head. She snatched at him but he shook her off easily, his
helmet tearing free of its strap and clattering down the steps.

As I started down toward them, the dagger in her flailing
hand slashed across the side of his neck, opening a long
dark gash. Bellowing with rage, he flung her down the steps.
I watched in horror as she tumbled down to smash against
the stone well at the bottom. There was a crack like a branch
snapping and her scream was abruptly cut off.

Click here to close the book excerpt.

Reviews and Awards

Shortlisted for the 2012 Red Maple Award

Best Books for Kids and Teens Selected, 2012

“Raw adventure from beginning to end….The novel’s grisly details will be enjoyed by fans of blood and gore, but for all those with an interest in ancient times and a taste for adventure, Torn from Troy is a highly satisfying read.” —Quill & Quire

“Plenty of battle violence and nasty details—the eye of the blinded Cyclops leaked blood and yellow pus—spice this tale. Greek words, such as chiton, mythological references, and detailed battle maneuvers add historical flavor. While the plot races along like an adventure movie, the dialogue, full of wisecracks and put-downs such as ‘kopros breath,’ lightens the tension. As a bonus, Alexi is quick-witted, smart-mouthed, and likable. Readers may need a nudge into selecting this title, but they will enjoy this book and anticipate the rest of the trilogy.” —voya magazine, USA.

3 stars (out of 4). “Bowman’s action-packed novel brings in the key plot points of Homer’s epic in a natural way.” —CM Magazine

“this first book is a lively and gripping re-telling of the Odyssey, as seen through the eyes of a young Trojan slave. He witnesses the cruel raid on the Cicares, is almost bewitched by the Lotus Eaters, and takes part in the encounter with the Cyclops—a vivid and chilling adventure in itself.” —Deakin Newsletter

Rated E for excellent! “[Torn from Troy] brings to life the legendary event from the perspective of a commoner caught up in a monumental, history-shaping moment. . . Young readers will love Alexias’s spirit, and his sharp with and quick tongue.” —Resource Links

“Alexi’s exploits and ordeals command the reader’s attention and support, but it’s his sense of justice and loyalty that will endear him to the reader. I found Bowman’s writing captivating. . . the mystery which Alexi ultimately feels he must uncover (you’ll need to read the book for this) will ensure my reading of his subsequent adventure, The Sea God’s Curse (Ronsdale Press, fall 2012).” —CanLit for LittleCanadians

“Filled with historical detail, and the stuff of myths and legend, and certain to be the first of a series, Torn from Troy is bound to delight.” —FernFolio

“Author Patrick Bowman throws the reader immediately into the action and keeps up the excitement throughout the book. . . . He skillfully conveys a remarkable amount of factual information about the ancient Greeks and Trojans without once slowing the pace and brings to life the story of Odysseus by making us see it through a Trojan’s eyes.” —Canadian Children’s Book News