Friday, October 4, 2019

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Queen of Warriors by Zenobia Neil

Please join me in welcoming Zenobia Neil to Let Them Read Books! Zenobia is touring the blogosphere with her newest release, The Queen of Warriors, and I'm thrilled to have her here today with a guest post about women warriors and her main character, Alexandra of Sparta. Read on and enter to win a copy of Psyche Unbound and The Jinni’s Last Wish!

Alexandra of Sparta vowed her sword and her heart to the goddess Artemis. And the goddess blessed her. But no warrior lives at peace, and soon, Alexandra loses her title, her troops, and all she holds dear, including the man who holds her heart.

Cursed by a Babylonian witch, she is forced to return to a city she once conquered to make amends, but is captured by the powerful Persian rebel, Artaxerxes. As his prisoner, she awaits judgment for her crimes. But Artaxerxes is not what he seems. With death approaching, Alexandra must face her violent past and discover the truth of her captor’s identity before it’s too late.


Women Warriors: Fact and Fiction
by Zenobia Neil

“If I killed you in battle, you died honorably. If it shames you to have been killed by a woman, know I am not any woman. I am of Sparta—any of my countrymen would have dispatched you just as quickly.” ~Alexandra of Sparta, talking to the ghosts of the men she has killed in the beginning of my new historical fantasy, The Queen of Warriors

Throughout history, women have been relegated to stories where their only chance at change was marriage—where their own success would be to bear an heir. I’ve enjoyed reading many novels about women struggling to exist in the past and to raise their status by marrying up. I completely understand that for many women that was the only acceptable way to succeed. But that was not the story I wanted to write.

I wanted to create a character who was not a victim of the stars, but who charted her own course. I imagined a badass woman warrior who did not follow or fear the rule of men, but who was held up by men, by her own men—Spartan men who were strong enough to not fear being led by a woman.

I created Alexandra of Sparta—Xena: Warrior Princess combined with Alexander the Great with a dash of Game of Thrones, all inspired by Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy. There is no historical record of such a woman, but there are records of female warriors. In times of war, women fought—they might not have been well trained, but they still fought. During Xenophon’s perilous journey back to Athens, the women in his party fought too.

Alexandra of Sparta, a foreigner in the former Persian Empire, is fearless—except when it comes to matters of her own heart. She has no interest in a husband, and no desire to have children. As a child, she vowed that instead of giving the goddess a son to be a warrior, that she would be that warrior. At the height of her power, like any male commander of the time (and inspired by The Persian Boy), she has a bed slave and a harem of slaves she keeps for herself. She is encouraged to take the Persian boy as her bed slave by her lover Mithra, a Babylonian former-concubine/sorcerer. What Alexandra does not expect is to fall in love.

Like most people in the ancient world, all my characters are sexually fluid. They don’t think of sexuality as gay or straight—that idea did not yet exist as we know it today. This is one of the most compelling aspects to me about the ancient world. One of the main reasons I write historical fiction is to imagine how people lived in different times and cultures. There’s no way to know what someone else’s life was really like, but reading is the closest we can get.

Alexandra is a woman in a male-dominated world and like any woman in a position of power, her position is precarious. As the leader of a mercenary army, she is despised by the Persians, whose land she takes for the Great King. But she is doubly hated for being a woman in a man’s world.

Sparta left a scant record of its daily life. What little we know about Sparta has been written by outsiders. But we do know that Spartan girls had more education—including a physical one—than Athenian girls. Spartan women were known for being active and incredibly brave.

We think of Sparta as a city-state full of warriors. But that was only for a short period. Sparta was not frozen in time during the classical age. It wasn’t all one big battle against the Persians—though the Battle of Thermopylae is a great last-stand story. Over the centuries, Sparta stopped being a superpower and continued to be a city-state—a city-state with a reputation.

This is a reputation that Alexandra and her advisor, Nicandor the Little Red Fox, use to their advantage. Like all public figures, my ancient world characters know the importance of rumor. Alexandra has spent her whole life as a warrior knowing that if she is caught, she’ll be mistreated for daring to fight. But when she actually does get caught by the Persian rebel Artaxerxes, what she has to face are not just her crimes in battle, but her crimes against love.

The Queen of Warriors is on a blog tour!

About the Author:

Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun. She lives with her husband, two children, and dog in Los Angeles. The Queen of Warriors is her third book.

Visit her at You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 2 eBooks and 2 paperbacks of Psyche Unbound and The Jinni’s Last Wish! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

The Queen of Warriors


  1. Thank you so much for hosting The Queen of Warriors, Jenny! We appreciate the support!

    HF Virtual Book Tours


I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!