The Ionia Sanction

A small team of highly trained experts has been at work on what to call Book 2 of the Hellene Mysteries, which is what I call the series even if no one else does!  Book 2 will be released with, no doubt, another beautiful cover from St Martin's Minotaur, on which will be the words...

The Ionia Sanction

Why Ionia?  Because that's the ancient province in which most of the action takes place.  Also, The Ionia Sanction is in the same style as The Pericles Commission, so there's the virtue of consistency. 

These images are taken from Atlas pour servir a L'histoire Grecque de E. Curtius, by Auguste Bouche Leclercq, 1888.  As you can see I got hold of an original edition and took some photos.  The book, by the way, is both a thing of beauty and incredibly informative.  If you can find a copy at a library it's well worth a look.

First off, here's a map showing Ionia.  It's the purple section in the middle.  As you can see, Ionia is fundamentally the west coast of Turkey.

The yellow province directly below Ionia is Doria.  The pink province directly above Ionia is Aeolia.  

Almost all the Greek cities were founded by people from one of two super-tribes: the Dorians and the Ionians.  The Dorians were the people of the Peloponnese, and the Ionians were the people who lived in Attica, plus the islands and the west coast of Turkey.  The west coast of Turkey was named Ionia, after the tribe which colonized it.  

You might think that Doria was colonized by Dorians, but that would be far too sensible.  Doria was inhabited by Karians, a non-Greek people who absorbed Greek culture going back even to Mykenaean times, but who themselves were not Greek.  Doria did have a few Dorians on the premises, hence the name by which the Greeks called it.  The Aeolians likewise were not originally Greek.  And now I'll exercise some self-control and stop talking about other provinces, or this blog post will turn into an entire book.

Here is where Ionia lies relative to Athens.  Attica, with Athens as its capital, is the purple splodge on the left.  Ionia is the elongated pinkish splodge on the right.  In between is the Aegean Sea.

Athens heavily supported Ionia after the Persians came along and took control of the province.  The Athenians and the Ionians, after all, were of one blood, all members of the Ionic super-tribe, and the Athenians believed overwhelmingly in freedom at all costs ("Live Free or Die" is the motto of New Hampshire, but it could have been written for the Athenians).  The Ionians revolted against the Persians, which ended badly and the ringleaders who didn't flee were executed.   The only Ionian city not to rebel against Persia was Ephesus.  After the revolt, the Ephesians were rewarded by the Great King with permission to rule themselves.  Ephesus thus attained a very special position indeed: a Hellene city within the Persian Empire but with self-rule.  For this reason, in the stories I've treated Ephesus as the Checkpoint Charlie of the ancient world.  Which probably isn't all that far wrong.

So here's a blow-up of Ephesus and Magnesia.  The river directly below Magnesia is the Meander River, which tends

When we hit on The Ionia Sanction I immediately did a quick search for similar titles, and came up at once with The Ionian Mission, which is one of the titles in Patrrick O'Brian's brilliant series of Napoleonic sea stories.  I should have realized instantly because his entire series sits on the bookcase in my office.

The highly trained team of title thinkers were literary agents Janet Reid, Suzie Townsend, Joanna Volpe, and FinePrint Godsends Meredith Barnes and Judith Engracia.  Thank you, Ladies!  Editor Kathleen and Keith Kahla did the final approval, since it is, in fact, their right to pick the title!  A lot of people don't realize that cover and title fall into the publisher's realm.  I'm enormously lucky to have editors who've turned author consultation into an art form.


Amalia Dillin said...

Sounds great!!

I am now going to resist the urge to ask questions about how characters end up in Ionia and what they're doing there, since I assume I will find the answers when I read The Pericles Commission!

Gary Corby said...


I could say they rediscover the original wings used by Daedalus, hidden in a secret cave deep beneath the Acropolis but, you know, I'd be lying. As I'm sure you know better than I, travel between the Aegean ports was probably no less efficient then that it is today; perhaps more so when you consider that the average Greek ferry timetable is a work of magnificent fiction.

As to why they end up in Ionia in book 2, well, you have some reading to do! There's no spoiler involved in the title; I mentioned long ago that Nico will visit Ephesus in the second book, and the working title involved the word "Magnesia" with all its North American medicinal implications.

Gary Corby said...

I should have added, Karia and Doria tended to be used almost interchangeably, and as far as I can tell depended on your political affiliation. But on this map they're delineated. Nico's likely to name the entire region to the south Karia, because as an Athenian he won't want to give the Dorians credit for anything if he can avoid it.

Tana said...

What an impressive team you have on your side Gary! I'm dazzled by the roll call of names.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Anne, that's the advantage of signing with the stupendously talented and clever FinePrint Literary Management. Not that I'm biased or anything, but it's scary how good they are.

RWMG said...

I hadn't heard of "The Ionian Mission", so my immediate connection from your title was "The Eiger Sanction".

Gary Corby said...

That's exactly how it evolved!

I used The Magnesia Sanction as the working title as a deliberate spoof on The Eiger Sanction, which is itself a spoof even though the movie takes itself seriously.

Working titles aren't expected to survive, but to my surprise everyone liked "Sanction". "Magnesia" had to go, but Ionia sounds nice and exotic.

On "The Ionian Mission"...If you haven't read them, Patrick O'Brian's sea stories starring Captain Aubrey and Dr Maturin would probably appeal to anyone who likes
beautifully written historicals.

Unknown said...

Ooh! Love the title. And the Aubrey-Maturin books. The Fortune of War is probably my favorite, just because I recognized so many of the names and incidents from American history. Too bad Stephen Decatur didn't get to make an appearance. Although his famous victory over the Macedonian is mentioned (much to Jack's chagrin)!

Gary Corby said...

My favourite would be either HMS Surprise, or The Commodore.

Sean Wright said...

I love maps - a result of having poured over the maps in the LOTR and the Hobbit. Gt a copy of the Penguin Atlas of the Ancient world around here somewhere.

Gary Corby said...

Hi Sean, I'd like to do a breakdown of the ancient provinces some time, but it's really complex!

Sean Wright said...

I'll let you do that side project :0

Sean Wright said...

Sorry that was supposed to be a :)

Gary Corby said...

Okay Sean. In that case you'll have to correct my copious errors. :-)