Returning home to settle her mother’s estate, Astrid Lund inherits five cats her mother had nicknamed “The Swarm” for their habit of converging on each new mischief as if of a single mind. Astrid soon discovers that the emotional bond shared by these otherwise ordinary animals reflects an extraordinary physical ability: when threatened, the cats join their bodies and minds to become a single animal with a tiger’s size, strength, and predatory instincts—a great cat Astrid comes to call Swarm.
Soon after Astrid discovers the cats’ dual nature, two strangers with equally unnatural abilities invade her home and steal two of the animals. Drawn by the littermates’ mysterious bond, the remaining three follow the thieves through a rupture between worlds, but not before joining bodies with Astrid and carrying her with them. When Astrid returns to her human form—and recovers from the terrifying experience of sharing Swarm’s turbulent, wordless psyche—she finds herself and her cats in the time and place of Swarm’s origins: The Homeric Bronze Age.
Stranded on the Trojan plain, Astrid is befriended by Nestor, Homer’s great horseman; by Hecamede, a woman who was taken as a spoil of war but has achieved a position of influence through courage and intelligence; and by Myia, an adolescent girl who has escaped slavery through a desperate, violent act. Soon, Astrid learns that Swarm is at the center of an ancient struggle between Circe, the enchantress, and an insane demigod who plans to use the cats’ abilities for his own dark purposes. As their conflict escalates into crisis, Astrid crosses the Aegean to reunite her animals and find a way home.
Joined by Nestor, Myia, and a small group of warriors, guided by her deepening psychological—and physical—bond with Swarm and by Circe’s cryptic, unpredictable interventions, Astrid tracks her stolen animals to an island ravaged by violence and dark enchantments. There, she confronts a madman’s ruthless ambitions, the secrets of her mother’s past, and her own terrifying transformation—all while struggling to control Swarm’s deadly, unpredictable instincts.
Astrid stopped in shock. Instead of the familiar path that wound through the piñon, mesquite, and dry grass to the neighbor’s house, she found herself . . . looking down a long, grassy slope. Two rivers crossed the plain, flowing to a beach where an impossibly blue ocean sparkled with refracted sunlight, polyhedral flashes dancing on the dark waves. Hundreds of wooden ships lined the beach, black with brightly painted decorations. Tents and makeshift huts sprawled chaotically across the shore as if dropped by a storm’s violent landfall. To her right, where the foothills of the Sandia mountains should have been, the plain rose to a fortified city, stone walls catching the sunlight like dull bronze.
“No,” she said aloud. She repeated the words like an incantation against madness. “No. No. No.”
Astrid stared across the plains of Troy, descending from King Priam’s tragic city to the camp of the invading Greeks: Homer’s fearsome Achaeans.
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