Saturday, July 21, 2018

What is a Simurgh?

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.

Okay, I'm an idiot. Nobody wants these books for 99 cents each. However, I've promised they'll be at that low price for the rest of this month. I'm not one to break promises. So, get 'em if you haven't read them before. They're both very entertaining.

On to other business. So, what is a Simurgh? If you don't know, then here's a bit of info on the mysterious bird of legend.

What the Heck is a Simurgh?

An early reader of “Faizah’s Destiny” asked the question. When I wrote the book, I was definitely under the impression that everybody in the world knows what a simurgh is, but I guess I was wrong.

If you’ve read the 1001 Arabian Nights or even saw the movie with John Leguizamo as the genie (brilliant!), you’ll be familiar with the intelligent Big Bird. From the Encyclopedia Mythica,, my favorite source for all things mythic:

In Persian legend Simurgh is a gigantic, winged monster in the shape of a bird; a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. Its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. According to legend, the creature is so old that it has seen the world destroyed three times over. In all that time, Simurgh has learned so much that it is thought to possess the knowledge of all ages.

I pretty much stick to the traditional description here except for that dog head and lion claws thing. Considering that the Simurgh know everything (really, not like that annoying guy at work who just thinks he knows everything), then it seemed logical to me and my heroine Faizah to ask them where to find Wafai the missing magician.

The boys in the little band of rescuers scoff at her, but it all works out anyway. The search for the bird does get them into the mountains where they need to be to save the world from Armageddon. You’ll have to admit that is just a teensy bit more important then finding an old magician. It’s all good, though. The magician finds the kids and the birds.

Illustration: This is a real page on the Simurgh from a real Arabic text dating back to circa 900 AD. I don’t see any dog’s head or lion claws. Do you?


Faizah felt the sunlight on her cheek. Morning. She kept her eyes closed, savoring the warmth until something blocked out the sun. At first she thought it a cloud, and she opened her eyes a slit to check for rain.

A huge bird stood motionless over her, regarding her with a steady, unblinking gaze.

Her eyes flew all the way open. The Simurgh was as tall as Master Wafai, the biggest bird by far that she had ever seen. It looked like a giant peacock, save that its beak did not come to a point. The eyes were different, too. Instead of beady black eyes like a peacock, the Simurgh’s matched the iridescent spots on its tail. It also sported a spray of upright feathers on its head, giving it a jaunty appearance.

Was this the only one, she wondered, or were there more? Turning her head slightly, she saw out of the corner of her eye there were, indeed, more. Four more, in fact. One stood by each sleeping form.

“Hello,” she managed to say and wondered what to do next. Sit up, or remain as she was? Would movement frighten them? This last question was quickly answered by Harib leaping out of his blankets with a startled yelp. Faizah laughed as she sat up―the Simurgh standing over Harib hadn’t even flinched.

The Simurgh beside her spoke. “Good morning, Faizah. Welcome to our home.”

“Thank you,” she responded then struggled to her feet and bowed to the bird. Curtseying wasn’t something she did very often, and she thought it a poor time to start now. “We’ve come a long way to find you. It turns out we didn’t need to after all, but here we are.”

“Yes.” There was humor in the bird’s voice. “You sought our counsel on the whereabouts of Master Wafai.” The bird revealed it had both arms and wings as it gestured with one feathery limb toward the magician.

As well as possessing both arms and wings, Faizah noted the bird’s beak did not prevent it from speaking clearly. Looking closely, she saw the Simurgh’s beak was quite flexible, more like pointed lips than the beak of the birds she was familiar with. This accounted for the bird’s precise speech.

By this time, all of the travelers were up and variously gawking or grinning at the birds that stood before them. Master Wafai drew himself to his full, magisterial height and settled his robes about him before addressing the Simurgh in his most formal tones. Faizah couldn’t help but smile. The fact he was practically vibrating with excitement spoiled the effect a little.

“I have spent my entire life waiting to meet a magical creature such as yourselves.” He waved his arms in circles. “This is most exciting! Most exciting indeed!”

“Had you stopped waiting, Magician,” the Simurgh facing him replied, “and started searching instead, you might have met us sooner. Creatures of magic do not often seek out mortals, but they can be found if you seek them. As close to you as the valley on the other side of these mountains lives a young woman who keeps company with a djinn and a flying horse. You could have met her after only a short journey, had you cared to make it.”

“Setara! Yes, I’ve heard of her.” Wafai’s shoulders slumped. He nodded eyes downcast. “You are right. I sat and waited for the magic to come to me. I should have gone to it.”

The giant bird nodded. “Oh, one other thing. The plural is Simurghs, Master Wafai.”
Wafai’s cheeks reddened above his white beard, and he bowed his head. “I’ll correct that error in my texts.”

“Never mind,” the Simurgh replied, “that doesn’t matter anymore. You are here now, and we will tell you your fate if you wish it.”

“How does this work? Do you see the future?”

“We see all the possible futures. You move from one future to another, depending on what you do in the now.”

“Do you mean that what you tell us may not happen?”

We will tell you the future that lies ahead of you on the path you now travel. If you choose a different path, you will have a different future.” The Simurgh standing before Wafai nodded, indicating the other birds. “We will also tell you of a few things to avoid.”

* * *

The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.

However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.

A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.

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