The Grip of God
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.
In thirteen century Kievan Rus, which is now made up of parts of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Princess Sofia is being sent away to Constantinople in fear of the upcoming Mongol attacks on her city. As her party travels away from the only home and family she has ever known, Sofia’s camp is attacked by the very people she was trying to avoid. Sofia is captured as a Mongol slave by the warrior Argamon, who raped her and kept Sofia as his own as believing she is part of a prophecy that will bring him good fortune. Sofia is crushed, but her spirit stays strong. As she navigates her new life in the Mongol camps she comes to terms with her relationship with Argamon, her religion, and the customs of the many different people who now surround her. As Sofia grows and begins to assimilate to life as a Mongol, she opens herself to friendship, love and acceptance of other people.
This was definitely one epic journey through a treacherous time period and setting. I went into the story not really knowing much of anything about the Mongol invasions, so everything described was a learning experience for me. Through Sofia’s point of view, the Mongal people, customs and her part within this very different society was masterfully detailed. I was very interested to learn about their intake and treatment of people that they had captured, their leadership hierarchy, mix of belief systems and even their food and lack of bathing. The beginning of the book when Sofia was leaving Kievan Rus actually felt a little slow to me and was difficult to get into, it was not until she was captured by Argamon that the pace livened for me. Sofia was an intriguing character, she was very young when she was captured, but was fortunate enough to be educated and have a stubborn streak, both which proved useful with the Mongols. Her and Argamon’s relationship was an absolute rollercoaster, and quite unexpected. I would never think that Argamon would be a character that I could relate to or respect, but as Sofia grew up, became more knowledgeable and opened herself to understanding, her attitudes about Argamon changed. Overall, an intense journey with unexpected outcomes. I will be reading the second book of the trilogy to see what happens to Sofia next.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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.
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