A great city, attacked by enemies of its faith and urbanity and betrayed from within, calls upon its faith, cynicism, and chicanery to survive and seduce its anti-urban adversaries. In the summer of 1402, as the walls of Christian Constantinople tremble under Ottoman siege machines, acting ruler Ioannes VII secretly sends Ottoman Sultan “Thunderbolt” Bayezid a gift -- including the key to the city and 14-year old Princess Theodota Palaiologina for the harem. But before this surrender can be consummated, the sultan suspends his siege to confront the khan Timur (Tamerlane) who has invaded from the east, and the princess, key and treasure are entrusted to the gazi Arslanshahin (“Lionhawk”), an Islamic war chief, to deliver. To prevent the battle with Timur, Arslanshahin must reach the sultan quickly -- the conquest of Christendom’s most holy city will bring such prestige as to prevent another Muslim from attacking. But the gazi’s band of horse archers is slowed in the Anatolian mountains by their burden of treasure-laden camels and the Greek-speaking Christian princess, her demands and her retinue. Theodota, believing herself to be on a divine mission to convert her captors, makes contact with a Greek-born janissary with a confusion of loyalties, a multilingual Serbian slave girl and the resourceful Turkish women accompanying the warriors, and develops an intense and conflictive relationship with the gazi who is both her captor and protector. The novel conveys the passions of the conflicting faiths in a historically accurate portrayal of this tense moment, just half a century before the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet the Conqueror. It will appeal to all those eager to understand the background of Christianity’s complicated relations with Islam today, and especially to those who have enjoyed International Booker Prize-winner Ismail Kadare’s novel The Siege or the works of Orhan Pamuk.
I just submitted my entry for this year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I thought you might be interested to see what I came up with as the "pitch," what might appear on the back cover of the printed book. Here it is: