So much has changed in our world since the thirteenth century, from our values to our sophisticated technology, including mass communications, to the fact that there are billions more people on Earth. A woman visiting us from that time would be lost in amazement. But there is also much that she would find familiar; human nature, for instance, hasn’t changed.
In a way, the story of Sofia, a princess who lost everything to war and now only seeks love and safe haven, is reflected in the lives of many people today. And those of us not displaced by catastrophe also wish for these things; we all face an unstable global economy, war, intolerance, and a vague sense of threat.
So Sofia’s story is our story, too. For those who are new to my books, here’s a snapshot overview: captured and enslaved by a Mongol lord whose peoples are invading her Rus homeland and beyond (The Grip of God), she has escaped into Iran and fallen into the hands of the Nizari, known today as the Assassins (Solomon’s Bride). From there she flees to the Crusader state of Antioch, where she falls in love. The novel ends with her beloved knight leaving on Crusade and her sailing to Constantinople, hope and fear warring in her heart: will she see him again?
In Consolamentum, when destiny forces her to move from Constantinople to Venice, and then to France, she meets with attempts at mind control (the Inquisition) that we still face in other forms (Fascism, for instance, or biased news reporting). Now she must find new ways to survive and to find the happiness that has seemed to elude her for so long.
What makes Sofia special is that she is so independent, constantly struggling, often successfully, against the impact of war and of cultures that don’t value women. She also takes an open-minded interest in everything and everyone she encounters. Despite her many moves, some of them forced on her, she remains observant, kind hearted, and intelligent. Seeing through her eyes, the reader can feel how universal the human heart, with its aches and joys, really is.
While Sofia’s far-flung adventures may seem farfetched in outline form, in fact people were as on the move then as we are today. It might have taken longer for someone to travel from Tehran to Antioch, but people did it all the time. This was when the Polo brothers crossed an entire continent twice, once in the middle of a civil war among the Mongols.
My hope is that Sofia, with her longing for love and her willingness to see with an open heart, will inspire my readers to connect both with her ability to adapt to a changing world and with their own. I invite you to journey with her on her final adventures, as she discovers new lands, a new life, and, perhaps, new love.