One of the big challenges of writing historical fiction is finding the right voice. No one wants to read something that sounds like the medieval English of The Canterbury Tales; we couldn’t understand it for starters! But if a story is written in language that’s too modern, it’s jarring. You may have read historical novels that read more like People Magazine than, say, a medieval adventure set in Lithuania (I made up the Lithuania part).
So in writing the trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove, set in the thirteenth century in Rus’ (the parent of both Ukraine and Russia), a major choice was finding language that would neither jar nor be unintelligible. My solution was to make sure that none of the words were newer than from 600 years ago. I figured it might take at least a few decades to migrate from the spoken to the written word and from French or Latin into English, so that calculation added somewhere between 50 and 100 more years to the antiquity of the language.
But it eliminated a lot of words and phrases that we take for granted; they didn’t yet exist. For instance, Sofia couldn’t ‘introduce’ someone to someone else. After struggling with the awkward ‘made known to’, I changed to ‘presented’, which comes later as she begins writing in another language. Of course, Sofia wasn’t writing in English but in Rus’ and then Frankish and Latin, and still in some ways thinking in Rus’—but I don’t want to give too much away.
There was another challenge to the voice I had to find for my heroine, Princess Sofia Vladymyrovna. She’s barely out of childhood when she begins her story. By the time she finishes it, she is in her late thirties, has traveled untold miles, been exposed to a myriad of new cultures, and had to learn at least six languages.
In the first novel, The Grip of God, Sofia thinks, speaks, and behaves like a young teenager. But she has to grow up overnight when she’s captured and enslaved by Mongols. She starts her story in her native language, but in the Mongol camps she learns new languages and dialects that influence how she speaks and thinks. In fact, everything she took for granted is challenged by a strange prophecy about her, the ugly politics in her master’s family, and the many religions she encounters.
In the second novel, Solomon’s Bride, Sofia escapes the frying pan of the Mongols and falls into the fire of the Assassins, the Crusader wars, and lots more. So I had to present her growing into young womanhood while confronting more life challenges, love challenges, and language challenges that affect how she expresses herself. By the time she finishes this second installment of her story, not only is she now an adult, she is no longer writing in the Rus’ tongue, but she doesn’t always use words as a native speaker would.
In the third novel, Consolamentum, Sofia is writing as a woman of the world who must face a whole new set of life challenges that nearly break her spirit. And again she has had to learn more new languages, including Veneziano, Italian, and the forerunner of French, which gives you some hints about where her adventures take her next.
Last, Sofia thinks as a medieval woman does, not as a modern woman would. There’s so much she doesn’t know that we take for granted, and there are assumptions she and others make that might seem strange to us. Talk about a challenge! But what happens in the end is that we see much of Sofia in ourselves: her complexity, her heartache and her triumphs. Because in the end, I believe we transcend the boundaries of language in our shared experience of love, confusion, and longing for what is good.
Sofia’s journey continues into a new and different foreign world as she heads to Iran:
Once a princess of Rus’, now a fugitive from the Mongols with a price on her head, Sofia flees to Iran and what she thinks will be safety. Instead, she becomes a virtual prisoner in Alamut, capital of the feared, secretive sect called the hashishiyya – known today as the Assassins. There she must answer to the Grand Master himself.
In this gripping second journal of her adventures, she is confronted with a world that further challenges everything she thought she knew. And like Solomon’s youngest bride, if she escapes, can she face a lonely death in the desert or might she finally find love?
SOLOMAN’S BRIDE by Rebecca Hazell is an interesting Historical Fiction. #2 in “The Tiger and the Dove” trilogy. I feel you really need to read book 1, “The Grip of God” in order to better understand “Soloman’s Bride”.
This is the continuance of the story of Princess Sofia. The adventure continues for Sofia, who we see in THE GRIP OF GOD has been captured and made a concubine to one of the Mongol invaders captains. Now, she in Iran, a fugitive with a price on her head. She flees to Iran and what she believes to be safety to realize she is once again a prisoner, only this time, to the Grand Master, himself.
Will Sofia, ever find safety, and love? A compelling, and complex tale of courage, slavery, adventure, and a very different world to what Sofia once knew. Not only as a slave of the Mongols but as a young Princess as well. Will she ever find her place, and re-gain her heritage? A gripping tale from beginning to end. I enjoyed “Soloman’s Bride” with it’s vivid descriptions, and its compelling characters. I don’t feel this one is as brutal as THE GRIP OF GOD, but it is intense,emotional, and complex. The third in this THE TIGER AND THE DOVE trilogy will be releasing soon, CONSOLAMENTUM, in which, hopefully, we will see how Sofia’s journey ends.
If you enjoy historical fiction, Asian culture, and a complex tale, then you will enjoy SOLOMAN’S BRIDE. Received for an honest review.
HEAT RATING: HOT
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
The Grip of God is the first novel in an epic historical trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove. Set in the thirteenth century, its heroine, Sofia, is a young princess of Kievan Rus. She begins her story by recounting her capture in battle and life of slavery to a young army captain in the Mongol armies that are flooding Europe. Not only is her life shattered, it is threatened by the bitter rivalries in her new master’s powerful family, and shadowed by the leader of the Mongol invasion, Batu Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson. How will she learn to survive in a world of total war, much less rediscover the love she once took for granted? Always seeking to escape and menaced by outer enemies and inner turmoil, where can she find safe haven even if she can break free? Clear eyed and intelligent, Sofia could be a character from The Game of Thrones, but she refuses to believe that life is solely about the strong dominating the weak or about taking endless revenge. Her story is based on actual historical events, which haunt her destiny. Like an intelligent Forrest Gump, she reflects her times. But as she matures, she learns to reflect on them as well, and to transcend their fetters. In doing so, she recreates a lost era for us, her readers.
Praise for the trilogy
“How deftly and compellingly Hazell takes the reader with her into that mysterious and exotic world, and makes it all seem so very close to hand!” – Peter Conradi, Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Literature and author of Iris Murdoch: A Life, and of A Very English Hero.
“I enjoyed watching her morph from a spoiled sheltered princess with slaves of her own, into a tough, savvy survivor, with a new awareness of social injustice. The book is action packed. I couldn’t put it down.” — from a review on Amazon.com.
“I got completely caught up in the characters and story and always looked forward to getting back to them. What a fully fleshed and fascinating world you developed and it was wondrous to learn so much about that time and the Mongol culture. Your gifts come out in your lush descriptions of place and objects. All very vivid and colorful.” –author Dede Crane Gaston
THE GRIP OF GOD by Rebecca Hazell is an intriguing historical fiction set during the 13th century. Book 1 in “The Tiger and the Dove” trilogy. What a fascinating tale of the brutal Mongolian invasions, a young teen of privilege taken as a slave by invaders and made into a concubine to Captain Argamon of the Mongol army. A complex, compelling tale of a young Princess who learns to endure, and survive the brutality of war and all of its atrocity, not only to herself but to others across Asia and Europe. There are some very intense scenes, with nightly rapes, constant sexual harassment of Princess Sofia, you learn so much of the brutality of the Mongolian invaders. Not only toward women but toward men as well. There was some confusion at times to me, concerning the sexual implications, but I would consider “The Grip of God” an epic journey. Be aware, there are several rape scenes as well as constant sexual harassment,while, not explicit, they can be off putting. “The Grip of God” is a cross-cultural tale of the atrocities of war during the 13th century. Received for an honest review.
HEAT RATING: HOT(due to the nature)
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
About the author
Rebecca Hazell is a an award winning artist, author and educator. She has written, illustrated and published four non-fiction children’s books, created best selling educational filmstrips, designed educational craft kits for children and even created award winning needlepoint canvases.
She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honours BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history.
Rebecca lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1988 she and her family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in 2006 she and her husband moved to Vancouver Island. They live near their two adult children in the beautiful Cowichan Valley.
(Sponsored by the publicist and/or author)
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Giveaway will run from May 22 until May 30, 2014.
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