Salt Spring Island author Pearl Gray is doing a short reading from her novel Zabel and talk on character development at Laughing Oyster Book Shop, Tuesday, March 8 at 2 p.m.
With parallels to events in today’s Middle East, Zabel is forced into exile for her religious beliefs. It is a warrior queen’s journey from the throne of Lesser Armenia to refuge in France in the 12th century. After the death of her father, Zabel is made to marry Raymond, a French crusader. When she is discovered following the pagan ways of the Great Mother, she and Raymond are forced to flee. When they arrive at Raymond’s family estate near Paris, and Raymond dies, Zabel finds herself alone in a culture with different values, mores, and laws. Although Zabel was trained to ride and shoot, she took a vow of peace. But now, how can she survive in a society bent on her destruction?
Scenes of exotic palace life, filled with fine silks and hot, scented baths and adventures on the Spice Trail fill the pages. In Rum, Zabel meets a Sufi mystic who, like the poet Rumi, is also the spiritual advisor to the Sultan. Later, in Montpelier, Zabel becomes a confidant of Eleanor of Aquitaine.
With clear, concise prose, this novel evokes the medieval culture of the Middle East and France through a masterfully plotted and intriguing story.