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The Sky Worshipers by F.M. Deemyad

Last week I posted a guest essay by author F.M. Deemyad. This week I’m delighted to give you a review of her debut novel, The Sky Worshipers.

First of all, let’s talk about the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? I would pick this book up without ever reading the title. The title and subtitle intrigued me, though, because I don’t know much about the Mongol conquests.

The novel begins in 1398 A.D., when Lady Goharshad, wife of King Sharokh, finds an ancient manuscript that 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. 

The journal entries of each princess unfold, giving each one their own voice. Princess Chaka, from China, secretly records historical events, followed by Princess Reyhan, from Persia, who turns her entries into stories. Finally, Princess Krisztina, from Poland, adds to the journal. She returns to her homeland when she is old, but manages to return and write the last entry.

Lady Goharshad, who finds the journal a century later, is inspired by the journal to make some changes in the land, to try and set right some of the transgressions of history.

This is an incredibly well-researched novel that gives voice to the captives with beautiful language and powerful storytelling. Each princess has her own personality, and none of them are weepy, weak, or defeated. While all long for their homeland, they adjust differently to their Mongol captors and record events in their own style. From the eyes of these strong women, we watch Genghis Khan and his sons worship the sky as they conquer Asia and Europe, trampling over their women as they go. This book is a masterful blend of fact and fiction that brings a new viewpoint to a historical period.

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