Cracking of the Mask

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Everything had been planned and executed to perfection. Where was the satisfaction, then? Why was happiness always so elusive?

Zenon McClow, a businessman with a checkered past, flees the United States, hiding first in Ecuador and then in the tropical paradise of New Caledonia. Plagued by burning existential questions, he begins to write down his life story while on the remote Isle of Pines. After failing to find relief, he turns to penning The Mask, a historical novel set in the mysterious land of ancient Thrace.

Zenon’s fiction endeavor is inspired by Evmondia, a kind-hearted Bulgarian girl living in New York who introduced him to the colorful world of the Thracians. He bases his story on events from the 4th century BCE, a time when Philip II of Macedonia, the father of Alexander ‘the Great,’ endangered Thrace. In Zenon’s tale, a young Greek scholar, Trysimachus, sets out on a perilous quest to the court of the Thracian king Ketriporis. As Trysimachus is forced to confront his own prejudices and fears, Ketriporis must deal with the increasing threats to his rule…

Beset by perils of his own—amidst ill health—Zenon re-examines The Mask, convinced it contains clues to help him resolve his troubled past. What will The Mask reveal to Zenon?

An epic tale of adventure, battles, and political intrigues—but also of self-discovery, transformation, and personal healing—Cracking of the Mask brings together two worlds and two eras that, at first glance, have little in common. Readers will experience the revival of an intriguing ancient culture as they embark on a journey in which they will face the everlasting conflict between our personas and who we are beneath the masks.

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As the plane flew away from JFK Airport, Zenon McClow looked out the window, watching the New York City skyline shrink beneath him. He said a final, mental farewell to the city, to his old life, and to his old self before easing his window shade down and closing his eyes.

He was leaving New York a very rich man. He didn’t trust the security of the plane’s wi-fi network, so he restrained himself from pulling up the encrypted banking app on his phone and looking at the number again. But it was hard not to look. His balance could have been a Social Security number. He had been more successful than he’d allowed himself to hope for. And he’d gotten away with it.

The image of Evmondia sitting at the seminar flashed through his mind. Did he regret that he would never see her again?

Oh, come on, Zenon. She’s gone. Move forward.

Zenon had left everything behind, or so he thought. He’d abandoned most of his belongings. He’d brought a few changes of clothes, his laptop, and a few mementos from his past he couldn’t part with.

He then thought about Phil. It had been only a few hours since they’d parted.

When he finds out, how far will he go to track me down?

Thrace, Early Autumn, 357 BCE

It was a brilliant day in central Thrace. The air was crisp and fragrant. The sky was blue, without a cloud in sight. The sun was high, and Mount Haemus glistened in the distance. Trysimachus was rushing along a dusty path, trying to find his way to the Hebros River…

Within moments, as if by magic, a magnificent sight, like nothing he had beheld before, unfurled in front of his eyes. Several men were carrying what looked like a massive sarcophagus, covered in gold. Behind it were carts laden with gold and silver cups, bowls, and coins.

A horn sounded, and the race began. The twenty-four horses took off eastward at full speed, the thunder of their galloping echoing between the hills. It was a sight to behold. Bouncing in the air, looking as if they could fly off their chariots at any moment, the four contestants drew shouts and cheers from the crowd. The stones and bumps along the course added to the dangers of the ride. Despite the challenges, all four made their first turn without accident and headed back at full speed.

The attack came late at night. Charging down the center of the ravine, the Dii approached with war cries so shrill it sounded as if the Titans themselves were wailing. The banging and clanging of their weapons terrified the young scholar…