Friday, May 22, 2015

(Review) The Grip of God: The Tiger and The Dove Book One by Rebecca Hazell

Publication Date: July 23, 2013.
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mongol Empire, Kievan Rus' (Eastern European Slavic Tribes), Genghis Khan family, military battles, 13th century.
Pages: 380.
Source: Free copy from Rebecca Hazell in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

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About the Author
Rebecca Hazell is a an award winning artist, author and educator. She has written, illustrated and published four non-fiction children’s books, created best selling educational filmstrips, designed educational craft kits for children and even created award winning needlepoint canvases. She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honours BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history.

Rebecca lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1988 she and her family moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in 2006 she and her husband moved to Vancouver Island. They live near their two adult children in the beautiful Cowichan Valley.

Visit Rebecca:


Summary:
The Grip of God is the first novel in an epic historical trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove. Set in the thirteenth century, its heroine, Sofia, is a young princess of Kievan Rus. She begins her story by recounting her capture in battle and life of slavery to a young army captain in the Mongol armies that are flooding Europe. Not only is her life shattered, it is threatened by the bitter rivalries in her new master's powerful family, and shadowed by the leader of the Mongol invasion, Batu Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson. How will she learn to survive in a world of total war, much less rediscover the love she once took for granted? Always seeking to escape and menaced by outer enemies and inner turmoil, where can she find safe haven even if she can break free? Clear eyed and intelligent, Sofia could be a character from The Game of Thrones, but she refuses to believe that life is solely about the strong dominating the weak or about taking endless revenge. Her story is based on actual historical events, which haunt her destiny. Like an intelligent Forrest Gump, she reflects her times. But as she matures, she learns to reflect on them as well, and to transcend their fetters. In doing so, she recreates a lost era for us, her readers.
My Thoughts:
The Grip of God is one of the most fascinating historical fiction books I've read. The main reason is I was unacquainted with Chinese, Mongol, and Genghis/Chinggis Khan history. Reading The Grip of God has led me to read several articles online about the Genghis Khan, his family, and the Mongol Empire. The Grip of God is a historical history that has rarely been written about. Further, I know of no other historical fiction books on this history. Most people are loosely aware of Genghis Khan, but they do not know about the military campaigns, nor the people groups and countries destroyed and eliminated. Becoming aware through a fiction story of this period in history is the first reason I've given The Grip of God 5 stars for excellent. 
Further reasons are:

  • The main character and voice in the story is Sofia. When the story begins she is age 12. She is an only child, the precious jewel of her father. She is precocious, intelligent, strong-willed, determined, observant, and intuitive. The other characters in the story felt drawn to Sofia and this was infectious to me. I felt an investment in the story from the first page, because I felt Sofia was a unique character and was destined for a unique life journey.
  • Sofia is a character that has internal struggles with her belief system. Her belief system is the religion and culture and society of her people group. She also struggles with finding a balanced attitude with the Mongol people group. In the beginning her attitude is hate and mistrust. But as the story progresses she wrestles with positive feelings for these "dog speech" people.  
  • The Mongol society and culture was absorbing. I've read many stories of people living in western society during the Middle Ages, but reading about eastern Asian people during the Middle Ages felt foreign and exotic. 
  • The ending of The Grip of God left me wondering what Sofia's next life journey will bring. 
I've read other reviewer's remark they did not like the abuse of women in the story. I don't either. I cannot imagine any reader liking it. But, this is a strong point in accurately depicting the Mongol Empire and how the Khan warriors treated women. I don't consider 12 years of age to be a woman. However, Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, was barely 14 when he was born. I also thought about the women and girls who were raped when the Russians moved into Germany at the end of World War II. My point is throughout the centuries of history invading armies have abused the female population. It is horrid and frightening.

I struggled with whether to give The Grip of God 4 or 5 stars. What pushed up the rank to 5 stars is I cannot stop thinking about nor wondering what is in store for Sofia in book two.

Links of interest:
National Geographic magazine article.
Biography.com.



2 comments:

  1. Fantastic review, Annette! You really touched on the key elements of the book and what makes it such excellent historical fiction. I can't wait for you to read book two and three. I'm reading book two now, Solomon's Bride, and it's just as engaging. Thank you for sharing Rebecca's book with your readers. :)

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  2. What a great review! --and I really like your habit of underlining key emphasis points. I actually own this book and hadn't had time to read it, but funnily enough (considering I now see your review), had been thinking of it a lot lately. This review has so pushed _The Grip of God_ up on my TBR list!

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