The Tiger and the Cauldron

Extract – The Contest

The fight hung in the balance. Attack from either side was followed promptly by counter-attack, both defended ably.

Hassan was beginning to tire. The muscles of his arms ached and his right palm was raw and stinging from contact with the sabre hilt. His bruised left elbow was stiff and it throbbed with pain. His feet were less willing to move in the direction he willed them. But he noticed too a change come over the features of his opponent. Always boyish, though grimly set in concentration, his face glowed with effort. In the watchful, darting eyes were signs of weariness that Hassan knew must be apparent in his own.
‘We are indeed well matched,’ said the other youth suddenly, stepping back well out of range, planting the point of his scimitar in the earth and wiping his forehead with the sleeve of his lorica.
‘You are right, Captain of Bandits,’ panted Hassan, wiping his face in turn.
‘Then you will yield to me?’
‘I will yield to no one. If Master Sabbah wishes to have his sword back you will have to take it by force.’
‘And I might well do so,’ rejoined the young captain. He gathered up his sabre and cut so quickly he almost caught Hassan off guard.
At the last moment, Hassan deflected the intended blow away from his flank. Then, as his gaze flitted to the right he saw the gap he was seeking, a narrow wedge of arm and shoulder just peeping out beyond the rim of his opponent’s shield. He lunged. His blade flicked out with delicate precision towards its target, and withdrew.
He was not nimble enough. The outlaw youth recovered from his momentary disadvantage. His scimitar flashed upwards and Hassan caught just a gleam of the steel as it descended again in an unerring sweep across his breast. At first, he felt only the shock of humiliation and the pervading fear of death. These emotions were followed by a burning pain in his abdomen and the overwhelming desire to vomit. The outlaw captain was on his knees a few paces away. Although he still grasped the hilt of his sabre, he had let his shield fall. His left arm hung loose and bright red blood ran freely from the sleeve of his corslet, through his fingers into the dry stony ground.

***

My novel, The Tiger and the Cauldron, available as an ebook from digital stores worldwide, is set in 1295 Mongol Persia:

Genghis Khan’s successors already control Asia and much of Europe. In their Iranian province, civil war is brewing as two rivals for the throne face one another across the salt deserts. Ghazan, son of the late Il-khan Arghun rallies his forces in the East, ready to march on Tabriz, the capital. However, only by converting to Islam can he guarantee victory.

Fifteen-year-old Hassan returns to his native country in search of adventure but unprepared for a chance encounter that will change his life.

Saved from a degrading forced marriage, Ghazan’s half-sister, sixteen-year-old Princess Doquz, is bent on revenge for her humiliation. With the rebel commander, Ahmed Sabbah, she declares war on Baidu, the usurper, and leads a guerrilla campaign against him from her base on Mount Sahand. But Doquz is reluctant to play the religious card that will help Ghazan to the throne until a reunion with Hassan, her childhood companion, forces her to reappraise her objectives and her sexuality.

From Tabriz to the Valley of the Assassins, deep in the Alburz Mountains, Hassan and Doquz pursue their quest, unaware of secrets that can destroy them both. And Sabbah must break a solemn oath to save them.

***

A dozen copies of the original paperback, first published independently in 2004, remain unsold in my possession, and these are now on offer at e-bay for £8.49 each in aid of the MacMillan Cancer Charity.

The price includes delivery to any UK mainland address, and a minimum of £2.97 per book will be automatically forwarded to the charity. I will also donate to the charity any additional income from the sales, after deduction of postage and other costs.

Further details can be found on e-bay under ‘Books, Comics and Magazines – Fiction – Historical and Mythological’ or by following the link to the item:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/281477643866

[I’d love to be able to make the offer available to bloggers outside the UK but in this case the postage costs for a 350 page book are prohibitive. Really sorry!]

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