25 September 2014

Excerpt Thursday: SOLOMON'S BRIDE by Rebecca Hazell

This week, we're pleased to welcome author REBECCA HAZELL with the second in her The Tiger and the Dove series, SOLOMON'S BRIDE. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free copy of The Grip of God, the first novel in the series, or Solomon's Bride in Kindle format. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

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?

**An Excerpt from Solomon’s Bride**

As the steppes swelled into rolling, well-wooded hills, both my body and spirit slowly revived and I sometimes forgot to be afraid.  For an entire day I could pretend we were merely on some wondrous journey of discovery: we might be edging along narrow cliffs where waves boiled into creamy foam below us or come upon a wide river rushing into the sea.  If we were then forced to ride inland, sheltered under shady trees and serenaded by the river’s song, to find a decaying bridge or shallow ford where we could cross, that was only part of a delightful adventure, nothing more.  I ignored the grim watch Da’ud kept as we traveled, how he guarded my every move.

Perhaps I could do that because he also relented and allowed more speech among us.  Ali always found an apt verse for the wonders we passed, which lightened any sense of possible trouble.  He was also given to reciting parts of a wonderful epic poem, the Shanameh, which tells about great shahs and heroes of Persia’s past.  And Nasr often added some silly twist to Ali’s elegant words that added to my delight.

Although this land was fertile and well-watered, there were surprisingly few settlements to avoid, especially inland.  Sometimes I would glimpse a tiny walled village perched on a steep hill above us, but we never approached it. A necessary precaution, Da’ud said when I asked why we never stopped at any of them.  “Once we would have had to take far greater care.  Half the towns were bandit lairs—those and the caves hereabout.  But few people live here now.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“The Mongols, years ago.  They wanted no one at their backs when they attacked the infidel Georgians, so scouts destroyed every village they found and killed all the people.”

I suddenly realized: this would have been part of the great sweep Noyan Subodai’s armies had made around the Caspian, which led to the terrible battle at River Kalka where my grandfather and uncles had all died.  From then on I saw that land in a new way—not just desolate but desolated.

One late afternoon soon after, we passed the remnants of a ravaged fishing village.  Da’ud considered sheltering overnight inside its ruined walls, as the weather was wicked, but even the rain clouting our faces could not drive him to camp in that haunted place: a spirit of evil still clung to the charred remains, littered with skulls and bits of bone.

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

“Through all of Sofia's treks across miles of various lands and cultures, I am a reader who is ready to continue the journey with her. I highly recommend this series if you love medieval history of the Far East and Asia, and even European areas, or enjoy reading about ancient cultures and religions. Solomon's Bride was even more well-written than Rebecca's first book, stringently researched, artistically detailed, heartfelt, and exciting.” –Erin, Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

The novel is available both in paperback and Kindle versions and through your local bookstore by special order. The third novel, Consolamentum, is also available now.

About the author

Rebecca Hazell is 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.

Visit Rebecca:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon