Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Tale Rich in Period Detail

A Handful of Earth by Larisa Walk (Smith Publicity, 2011, 178pp.)

Yaroslava, a tomboy princess, is one of the few survivors left alive after a Mongol onslaught, lead by Batu Khan, overwhelms her small Russian town of Yelnik. When Yaroslava appears to passively accept her fate as a slave, her people grow
suspicious of her. In reality, though, she is planning their escape. To gain the trust of the charismatic Mongol leader, she accepts his offer to become one of his advisors, while inadvertently gaining the hatred of Houri, the Khan’s favorite concubine. Walk’s tale features a strong, resourceful heroine, and her extensive use of period detail brings Medieval Russia to life. My only complaint is that, while the beginning starts out strong, the ending feels rushed. While meant for adults, this novella may appeal to older teenagers as well.

Click on cover for image source.

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