Solomon's Bride is the dramatic sequel to The Grip of God. Sofia, the heroine, a former princess from Kievan Rus' was enslaved by a Mongol nobleman and then taken as a concubine by the leader of the Mongol invasions, Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan. Now, having fled the Mongols with a price on her head, Sofia escapes into Persia and what she believes will be safety, only to fall into the clutches of the Assassins, who seek to disrupt the Mongol empire. In a world at war, both outer and inner, the second phase of her adventures unfolds. Can she ever find safe haven, much less the lost love and family that was almost destroyed by the Mongols?
Yes, it’s set in the turbulent 13th century, which saw the massive Mongol invasions, the last desperate Crusades, the final era of the Assassins, and the establishment of the dreaded Inquisition. The story unfolds in a memoir written by a former princess of Kievan Rus’. Her life parallels these epic developments since she was so affected by them, but the story isn’t just about historical events. It also explores a journey of the heart: what keeps her sane and loving in a world ruled by greed, aggression, and willful ignorance.
Solomon’s Bride begins where The Grip of God leaves off, with Sofia having fled the Mongols for Iran. There she expects to find safe haven and a way to get west to her uncle in Constantinople. What she discovers is that she has fallen out of the frying pan into the fire. The Mongols didn’t just invade Europe; they invaded all across Asia and the Middle East. Iran was one of the early victims, and it was a mess there just from that. Plus there was sectarian warfare within Islam, just as there is today, with the added chaos of the Assassins, who were expecting the Apocalypse and were happy to help it arrive.
Yes indeed! Sofia herself finds many kind people of differing faiths who help her both in her travels and on her life journey. One thing I wanted to show was how much goodness there is in the world, even in the midst of terrible times. Much of the novel is about her relationships, and there’s not so much visible violence as what she witnessed in the Mongol camps. So it’s not an action book so much as it is an exploration of how people keep sane in crazy times.
‘Meeting’ so many different, interesting people. They are mostly fictional, but to me they became so real. I didn’t just want caricatures of points of view; I wanted the readers to care about them the way I did, with all their quirks and ways of viewing their world. And I enjoyed how Sofia kept growing and changing; all I had to do, in one sense, was record it just as she was recording her adventures in her journal.
It comes from an Islamic legend about an aged Solomon and his young bride: she had to choose to come into his tent or be frozen to death on a mountain. In much the same way, Sofia’s life was full of challenge and the choices she made to survive.