Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Summary, Excerpt, Praise, and Author Bio
Publisher: History Through Fiction
ARC provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
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From the publisher
In the year 1398 A.D., Lady Goharshad and her husband, King Shahrokh, come across an ancient manuscript in the ruins of Karakorum, the Mongol capital. The manuscript chronicles the era of Mongol invasions with entries by three princesses from China, Persia, and Poland who are captured and brought to the Mongol court.
After being stolen from her family at the Tangut Emperor’s coronation, Princess Chaka, the Emperor’s youngest daughter is left with no choice but to marry Genghis Khan. Thus, the Tangut join Genghis as allies. She is the first to secretly chronicle the historical events of her time, and in doing so she has the help of an African eunuch by the name of Baako who brings her news from the war front.
Princess Reyhan is the witty granddaughter of the last Seljuk King in Persia. She is kidnapped by Ogodei, Genghis’s son and heir, who falls in love with her. The romance does not last long, however, since a Mongol beauty wins Ogodei’s heart, and Reyhan is sidelined. Reyhan continues the tradition of recording the events in secret, turning her entries into tales.
During the Mongol invasion of Poland and Hungary, Princess Krisztina, niece to Henry the Pious, is taken as a prisoner of war by the Mongols. Reyhan learns about Krisztina’s predicament through Baako and asks Hulagu, Genghis’s grandson, to help free her. Krisztina has a difficult time adjusting to life in Mongolia, and at one point she attempts to run away but is unsuccessful. When the child she is bearing is stillborn, the Mongol court shuns her. She is able to return to her homeland in old age but comes back to Karakorum and writes her final entry in the journal.
Through beautiful language and powerful storytelling, this fact-based historical novel lays bare the once far-reaching and uncompromising Mongol empire. It shows readers the hidden perspectives of the captive, conquered, and voiceless. It brings to light the tremendous but forgotten influence of Genghis Khan and his progeny, while asking readers to reconsider the destruction and suffering of the past on which the future is built.
The Bridge over Sajo River
Rugged yellowish-brown stones paved the bridge over Sajo River and masked its arched masonry beneath the deck as well. The bridge rose like a giant sea serpent out of the blue-gray fog of the night. The waters of Sajo exhaled a mist that engulfed the entire arena in gloom. Sea smoke covered stones formed islands here and there across the length of the river.
Mongol horses had splashed through shallow waters and waded through rivers; they had climbed perilous mountains, descended narrow valleys and slid over frozen lakes carrying their riders to destinations from which they could not afford but to return victorious.
Batu and Subutai had reached the embankment, a bridge away from their foes who had camped there days in advance, so great in number that their silhouettes could be seen as specks on the distant horizon.
“Things don’t look so good. They have formed a solid wall with their shields, yet they can attack us with their arrows as we cross the bridge,” Batu said.
“I will take a portion of the army downstream to find shallow waters that are easy to cross. This way my unit can take them by surprise.” Subutai replied. “You do your best to fend them off in a frontal assault.”
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Batu asked, looking concerned.
“I joined your grandfather’s men when I was but a lad of fourteen, and since then my mind has been focused on only one thing: a strategy to win wars,” Subutai responded and then asked, “Are you as determined as I am to win this one?”
Batu looked at him fiercely, “I have the determination of a hungry dog picking a bone to bite on. Tonight, we shall drink to victory.”
“Bolad will remain with you, Baidar and Kadan will accompany me,” Subutai said as he signaled his men to prepare for departure.
With Subutai gone, the number of Batu’s men appeared too scant in the confrontation that was about to ensue. Bolad must have noticed the concern on Batu’s face as the commanders gathered in the grand ger for the last time before crossing over to the other side.
“I have a solution that would put our mind at ease and strike fear in the hearts of our foes,” Bolad said lifting the handmade cloth doll above his head as he spoke. “Imagine this doll lifesize!” He paused and looked triumphantly at his comrades in arm who seemed awestruck by the suggestion. He then continued, “From a distance, the lifesize effigies would appear real. Now imagine many such dolls mounted on wooden frames as a backdrop to our operation. Our foes would think that the small army unit being dispatched to the front is merely an advanced guard, and a major attack is yet to occur.”
“We could use the fabric and wood from our gers for the purpose,” Batu replied thoughtfully, lines of concern that had earlier formed deep furrows upon his forehead began to melt. “We will ask each of our warriors to assemble at least five such figures within the hour.”
Mongol warriors knew the basics of stitching and frequently mended their own clothes torn in combat. Many complained, however, finding the undertaking tedious and unnecessary. The task being accomplished to the satisfaction of Batu, they made their first attempt to confront the enemy. As they reached the halfway mark on the bridge, the flags of the Knights, as well as that of the Hungarian army, became visible. The sheer number of foes struck fear in the hearts of the Mongols. The knowledge, however, that Subutai’s forces were racing to reach the battlefield and would soon arrive, gave them courage.
Meanwhile, Mongol horses under Subutai’s command slid upon the algae strewn embankment. Steam rose when the ice-cold raindrops hit the warm earth as they made their way down toward the shallower waters of the Sajo River. The wind blew their moistened manes and tails as they trotted bravely forward upon the now glistening land. Their leather armor slapped against their muscular frames.
Chunks of ice formed a slushy surface on the river. Baidar lashed out, not addressing Subutai directly but with his face toward the thawing river. “Now what, are we to walk on water?”
“We will if we have to,” Subutai replied coldly.
“How on earth are we going to do that?” Kadan retorted without thinking and instantly seemed to have regretted his harsh tone toward Subutai.
“I see some boats nearby. We will tie them together and form a floating bridge,” Subutai said, repeating the suggestion of a Chinese engineer who had accompanied them.
The stunt allowed for a quick, albeit inconvenient means of crossing the river. The boats were attached side-by-side forming a rather lengthy but unstable bridge upon which they encouraged their horses to cross after dismounting and leading them one by one.
Rust-colored weeds had grown on the banks, giving the scene an ethereal beauty. The warriors had no time to enjoy the serene landscape as they hopped like hooded amphibians from one boat to another. It was a cumbersome attempt that only the persistent, desperate Mongol horsemen would obediently undertake. Finally, they reached the shore under the cover of a moonlit night and quietly approached the arena of war.
“The author’s in-depth research is evident throughout The Sky Worshippers. For readers who enjoy a lush blend of historical fact and fiction, this novel details the smells, sights, sounds of a pivotal era in time, uniquely told through the eyes of three captive princesses.” – Gina Wilkinson author of When the Apricots Bloom
“F.M. Deemyad immerses the reader into the 13th Century world of Genghis Khan. It’s an unforgettable story of survival and strong women as we experience life through the eyes of the conquered-and the conquerors. In The Sky Worshipers, history comes vividly alive.” – John DeDakis, Novelist, Writing Coach, and former Senior Copy Editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”, www.JohnDeDakis.com
“In this stunning saga, F. M. Deemyad takes us on a thrilling journey as Genghis Khan and his sons sweep across Asia and Europe, worshiping the sky while they conquer one nation after another and capture women to enslave and marry. The women’s stories, rich with architectural, historical and cultural detail, hold an important message for all of us who have inherited privileges as the result of our ancestor’s atrocities. A great read and a phenomenal debut!” – Raima Larter, Author of Fearless and Belle o’ the Waters
“The Sky Worshipers by F.M. Deemyad draws us into Genghis Khan’s conquests through the eyes of three women ripped from their homes and thrust into royal service. This lyrical novel is a vivid imagining of hearts and minds of women who left their marks on history, despite history’s failure to acknowledge their contributions. It allows us to connect with timeless striving for a world of compassion, equal opportunity, and celebration of diversity. A beautiful novel.” – Lisa L. Leibow, J.D., Co-Founder, Board President, Chief Operating Officer, The Scheherazade Project
“An illuminating telling of Mongol conquest and the people who lived-and died-making decisions that shaped half the world. The broad strokes of time are revealed through the perspectives of single bristles of the brush. Cleverly imagined and carefully rendered, The Sky Worshipers is an engaging, personal look at one of history’s momentous eras.” – Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity
About the Author
F.M. Deemyad was born in Kermanshah, Iran. She grew up in the capital, Tehran, attending bilingual schools run by Christian and Jewish minorities. Her father, born and raised in India, had come to Iran when he was in his late twenties. Being the son of a linguist who had taught English Literature in India for a number of years, he exposed the author in her preschool years to the English language, and she learned to love classic literature under her father’s instructions. She received her Master’s degree in Writing from Johns Hopkins University in 2016. She currently resides with her husband in Maryland.