Born in early 525 AD in northwest Arabia, Jayida is secretly raised as a boy for her safety. In defiance of al-‘ayn, the evil eye, she grows up as Jonder and soon becomes known for perceptiveness and bravery. But her meeting of Khaled, whose father is the reason for her unusual upbringing, turns her world upside down. Will she risk revealing her true identity and win his love? And whose lives must be sacrificed when her fame finally draws her into ‘Antarah’s quest, the mixed-race badawi-Aksumite poet of the Banu ‘Abs, whose last challenge is to capture her to win his own beloved ‘Ablah?
This is the timely retelling of a tale of Sirat ‘Antar. Set in the 1500-year-old historical context of Arabian tribal poetry, Roman-Persian-Himyarite-Aksumite relations, and climatic and plague events recorded worldwide, this colorful era is once more revived.
*Inspiration note: This book is the fruit of years of research and the project that first made me want to write historical fiction. Late antiquity is an era that is largely underrepresented in historical fiction, and even more so when it comes to Arabia and the overall Middle East. As a Christian with ties to the Holy Land, a combination of the little-known era and heavily biased accounts on pre-Islamic Arabia (and the wider region) called me to tell my story within a more historically accurate context.
It is my prayer that readers will be swept into this era with tenacious and caring characters grappling with life, love, faith and competing—though at times converging—spiritual paths in an often violent world.
*Historical note: 2023 marks 1500 years since the massacre of Najran of 523 AD, a key event in the story.
*Currently available for purchase in USA only (more outlets pending). Paperback, 612 pages. Cover design by ©Natacha Pavlov.
*View my book trailer featuring the lovely ‘Mandala’ track by Marga Sol. From the moment I first heard it years ago ‘by chance’, it filled me with emotions that confirmed it as the perfect ‘Jayida theme song’ in my mind. And as with any great music, it also has remixes! So be sure to check out the ‘Mandala’ Remixes (the Yel Bosco Remix is my fav, followed closely by the Ali Termos Remix) and all of Marga’s versatile chillout music on her website 🙂