The Shadow of the Minotaur
The second book in the series takes the three time-travelling children back in time to ancient Crete and the palace of Knossos, home to the legendary Minotaur, a terrifying flesh-eating monster.
"Beneath the palace lie tunnels deep ..."
WINNER OF THE BEST MIDDLE GRADE SERIES -
CHILDREN'S LITERARY CLASSICS BOOK AWARDS 2017
Also won Finalist position in the READERS' FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS - September 2017
Ten-year-old twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot continue the search for their missing parents who are trapped somewhere in the past. Together with their friend, Charlie, and their talking cat Max, they are whisked back in time to ancient Crete and the palace of Knossos, where the fearsome Minotaur resides in its labyrinth, feeding on human flesh. Can they help Prince Theseus of Athens overcome the terrifying monster before it devours them all? And will the children survive the terrible storm that threatens to wreck their ship as they attempt to flee the island?
An air of gloom hung over the royal palace as final preparations were made for the departure of the procession. King Aegeus regarded his son sadly. ‘Won’t you reconsider, Theseus?’ he said. ‘You don’t have to go, you know. There are plenty of others who could take your place.’
‘It’s my duty to Athens,’ replied the prince. ‘I intend to make sure this is the last time we send any of our people to such a hideous death.’ Theseus, a tall and handsome youth, who took his role as the son of King Aegeus very seriously, spoke with confidence and pride. ‘I’m going to kill that revolting creature and then come home safe and sound. I won’t fail, Father, so don’t be afraid.’
For many years now, the people of Athens had witnessed the annual departure of the flower of their youth, sent to the island of Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur, a monster rumoured to be half-man, half-bull. This sacrifice of seven young Athenian men and seven young women was demanded by Minos, the king of Crete. In the past he had attacked Athens many times and his plundering armies had almost ruined the city, but now, in return for the yearly delivery of Athenians to feed the beast he kept in his labyrinth, he had promised to leave them in peace.
This year, however, Prince Theseus had decided enough was enough and put himself forward to be one of the sacrificial victims travelling to Crete. Once there, he planned to slay the Minotaur, before returning to Athens unharmed, together with his fellow travellers. Never again would his nation have to suffer the sorrow of sending its youngsters to a grisly fate.
A court official entered the royal chamber and, bowing low, addressed the king. ‘It’s time to leave, Your Majesty. The procession is ready and the crowds are waiting outside the palace.’
King Aegeus blinked back his tears and embraced his son. ‘Promise me one thing. When your task is complete and you’re on the way home, remember to change the black sails on the ship for white ones. I’ll be scanning the horizon for those white sails every day to know that my son is coming back to me.’
‘I promise, Father,’ replied Theseus. ‘I shall return in glory and all of Athens will rejoice. Just you wait and see.’
The royal party left the palace and joined the throng waiting outside. The procession made its way out of the city, down towards the harbour at Piraeus. A mournful wailing accompanied them as they travelled along the route, the families of the victims standing on tiptoe and craning their necks for one final glimpse of their loved ones as they filed past.
At the harbourside sailors helped the terrified youngsters to board the ship, its black sails a mark of the nation’s grief. As each young person passed him Theseus spoke to them, laying a calming hand on their trembling shoulders. ‘Don’t be scared, we’ll all be coming home soon. I’ll make sure you see your families again.’ Before boarding the ship himself, he ran back towards the king and embraced him for the last time. ‘I won’t let you down, Father.’
Choked with emotion, Aegeus struggled to speak through his tears. ‘The sails, Theseus, don’t forget the sails.’
‘I won’t,’ replied his son as he leapt eagerly aboard, excitement coursing through his entire body at the prospect of what lay ahead. In his mind’s eye he already imagined his heroic return when he came back to Athens, carrying the head of the Minotaur.
The breeze filled its black sails and the ship slipped out of the harbour to the pitiful weeping of those left behind on the quayside. Thirteen young men and women gazed back with tear-stained faces, taking one last look at their families and their homeland. Only Theseus turned his head away from the port, staring eagerly out to sea as the thrill of the unknown beckoned to him.