Special Feature and Excerpt: THE ORACLE (The Sarah Weston Chronicles #3) by D.J. Niko

02_The Oracle_CoverThe Oracle (The Sarah Weston Chronicles, Book Three)
by D.J Niko

Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Medallion Press
Paperback; 456p
ISBN-13: 978-1605426273

Genre: Historical/Archaeological Adventure

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In Delphi, the mountain city deemed by the Greek gods to be the center of the Earth, a cult of neo-pagans re-create with painstaking authenticity ancient rituals to glorify the god Apollo and deliver oracles to seekers from around the world.

When antiquities are stolen from a museum in nearby Thebes, British archaeologist Sarah Weston and her American partner, Daniel Madigan, are drawn into a plot that goes beyond harmless role-playing: someone’s using the Delphian oracle as a smoke screen for an information exchange, with devastating consequences for the Western world.

Pitted against each other by the cult’s mastermind, Sarah and Daniel race against time and their own personal demons to uncover clues left behind by the ancients. Their mission: to find the original navel stone marked with a lost Pythagorean formula detailing the natural events that led to the collapse of the Minoan Empire.

But will they find it in time to stop the ultimate terrorist act?


About the Author

Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO
Daphne Nikolopoulos, photography by Lauren Lieberman / LILA PHOTO

Daphne Nikolopoulos in an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written two novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles. Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. Her follow-up release, The Riddle of Solomon, continues the story of British archaeologist Sarah Weston as she seeks the relics—and mystical secrets—left behind by the biblical King Solomon in remote Israel.

Daphne is currently at work on The Oracle, book 3 in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, which releases in 2015. Also slated for publication in 2015 is her first historical novel, The Judgment, which is set in Israel and Egypt in the tenth century BCE.

In addition to writing fiction, Daphne is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels.

Daphne frequently lectures about her research on the ancient world. She is an instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Lifelong Learning Society, teaching on the subject of archaeology. She has also spoken to audiences at the Jewish Community Center of the Palm Beaches’ Academy for Continuous Education, and several libraries and private groups throughout Florida.

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at djnikobooks.com and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 9
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, November 10
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, November 11
Review at Back Porchervations

Friday, November 13
Spotlight at I’d So Rather Be Reading

Monday, November 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Tuesday, November 17
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, November 18
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight & Excerpt at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, November 19
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, November 20
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Monday, November 23
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, November 24
Guest Post at Yelena Casale’s Blog

Friday, November 27
Spotlight at Teatime and Books

Tuesday, December 1
Review at Kristin Un-Ravelle’d

Wednesday, December 2
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, December 4
Spotlight at Diana’s Book Reviews

Thursday, December 10
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, December 11
Guest Post & Giveaway at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

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Author’s note: In addition to the modern-day thriller plot, in which archaeologists Sarah Weston and Daniel Madigan are hunted by a ruthless psychopath reconstructing the ancient oracle, THE ORACLE features a historical subplot that tells the story of the fall of Delphi and the persecution of pagans during the reign of Emperor Theodosius.

One of those historical scenes describes the siege of the sanctuary by the emperor’s mercenaries. Defended by the last priestess and priests, the sanctuary falls spectacularly to the enemy’s catapults and torches. The smoke on the cover, and the hands of the priestess reaching out for help, is indicative of that fateful moment.

Here is an excerpt from that scene:

Aristea stood on shaky legs and gazed into the courtyard. A wheeled cart with a ballista attached was pointed toward the temple. Behind the contraption was a gathering of men. In the torchlight, their faces were like brazen statues—hard, vacant, incapable of feeling.

Her lip trembled as she spoke. “We are people of peace. We are not breaking any laws of the empire.” She swallowed hard. “Our treasuries have gold. Take all you want. Just leave our sanctuary standing.”

One man stepped out in front. He wore chain mail across his chest and a bronze helmet, as if Apollo’s priests were going to engage him in battle. “We need no permission to take your gold. That is the currency of the devil, and we have every intention of confiscating it for the work of God.” He pointed toward the temple. “The fire of hell burns within that house. Under order of Theodosius the Great, rituals of the profane shall not be tolerated.”

“But no one comes here anymore.” Despite attempts to keep emotion at bay, Aristea’s voice was shaky. “In accordance to with the emperor’s decrees, there are no rituals.”

“And what are you doing here, then?”

“This is my home. I mean to protect it.”

The soldier pointed to her. “If this is your home, then you answer to the devil.” He glanced over his shoulder and barked a command to his men. He raised a gladius and released a cry.

“Please,” Aristea pleaded. “We mean no harm—”

The man grabbed her by the elbow and dragged her inside. She glanced back and saw a legion of men enter the temple after their leader. It was an all-out siege.

He pushed Aristea to her knees in front of the tripod in which the eternal flame burned. Cleon and the others were seized by the other men and brought to kneel beside her. She glanced at Cleon. The serenity on his face gave her courage.

The soldier pointed to the flame and turned to Aristea. “Do you deny that this is the fire of hell?”

“I do not know what the fire of hell looks like,” she said calmly. “I know only light.”

He signaled to his men. With a war cry that echoed off the marble, they toppled the tripod and beat the flames with their capes until all that remained of the light of Apollo was the faint scent of burnt oil.

Leaving the prisoners unattended, they ran like rabid animals to the altar and down to the adyton. They would leave nothing standing.

Aristea turned to her brothers. “Remember our promise. We shall meet again. Now leave this place.”

Ignoring Cleon’s pleas, the priestess picked up the tripod and swung it with all her strength at one of the men. He fell unconscious. She did the same to another, and another, until the leader noticed and lunged at her.

She fought him with the tripod, but he quickly overpowered her and sent the brass vessel clattering across the hall.

He grabbed her by the hair. “You think you are a match for me, witch?” He pulled her head back. “Answer me!”

“What one man has built, another has no right to destroy.” She spat on the floor. “You disgust me.”

He struck her across the face with the back of his hand. The force made her fall to her side. As she raised her head, blood dripped onto the marble. Through blurred vision, she watched the emperor’s men swing heavy iron axes at the columns, cracking them. Her face hot with anger, she swung a fist at her captor’s groin and watched him dive, howling, to his knees.

She felt arms hoist her upright. She turned to face Cleon.

“Don’t be a martyr,” he said. “Save yourself.”

She shook her head. “I will sooner go down in flames than abandon Apollo.” Python-like arms gripped her from behind and squeezed the breath out of her lungs. “Run,” she mouthed.

A cloud of white linen trailed Cleon as he ran toward the doorway. It was the last image she registered before she succumbed to darkness.

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