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.
Real female warriors existed in the Pre-Islamic world.
Artemisia (or Anahita in some sources) was a daughter of Hecatomnus, the founder of the Hecatomnid house that had ruled Caria since the beginning of the 4th century. She was the warrior-Queen of Halicarnassus (now in modern western Turkey). She was also an admiral in Persian King Xerxes navy, coordinating a land/sea attack against the Greeks.
She definitely kicked butts and took no prisoners. I do wonder, though, if this fighting queen was real, noting the similarity of her name to Artemis. Still, the Greek Artemis was an archer who led a pack of wild (Amazon?) women.
Persian and Scythian women regularly fought in battles through the 6th Century (when Mohammad appeared on the scene). Of course, most of their names were scrubbed from any written histories, in the same manner as the war goddess Al Uzza. An interesting an informative essay is on artist Thalia Took’s site (http://www.thaliatook.com/AMGG/aluzza.php). She creates amazing Goddess trading cards.
Finally, this blog http://apranik.blogspot.com/2009/10/persian-female-warriors.html has descriptions of many female warriors. Definitely worth reading.
|Iranic Scythian Female Warrior|
|Persian Female Warrior|
|Artemisia in Battle Against Greeks|
In my research, my image of Faizah was influenced by these female warriors and goddesses of the middle-east. We learn Faizah’s old enough for marriage. Her teacher and mentor, Master Wafai, laments it would be a waste if she were to marry rather than continue her studies of the magical arts.
Faizah’s best friends are boys (Harib and Bahaar), and we discover early on she’s prepared to fight the town bully to protect the boys. Later, the ex-slave boy, Qadir, joins the others at Master Wafai’s school. He becomes part of the group, although remains cool, although willing to join in the search for Wafai.
So, Faizah is smart, educated, no shrinking violet, and she learns that if your friends are boys “you just had to pretend certain gestures, noises, and smells didn’t exist.” Even her background as a hard-working farmer’s daughter prepares her for war as many other of her middle-eastern sisters in myth and history have done.
But first, she has to ‛convince’ the boys she should go on the search for Master Wafai...even if she’s just a girl.
“Faizah! What are you doing here?” Bahaar blurted. “And why are you dressed like that?”
She grinned, enjoying their aghast looks. “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a woman wearing trousers before? It’s not that unusual.” She walked past them, starting up the eastern path, as they stared open mouthed. “Come on, let’s get moving.”
Qadir was the first to react. “Oh, no. No, you can’t come. You’re a, a?”
“What? A girl?” She turned to face them. “You think you’ll have to watch out for the poor little girl?” Suddenly, she punched Bahaar in the chest. The unexpected blow knocked him flat on his back.
“Think I can’t take care of myself?” She shoved Harib’s shoulder while she hooked her foot behind his leg, sending him to the ground next to Bahaar. “Since when?”
That left Qadir. The tall boy was too big for her to take on physically. Faizah stood her ground, fists clenched, as he raised his hand and took a step toward her.
“We told you we didn’t want you along. Just turn around and go home.”
“Who’s we?” Faizah asked; her lips tightened with disdain. “I didn’t hear anybody make you leader! I can go anywhere I please, and you can’t stop me!”
Harib and Bahaar cautiously picked themselves up, their glances darting back and forth between Faizah and Qadir, who stood toe-to-toe, glaring at each other.
No one moved or spoke for a long, uncomfortable moment.
“What’s it going to be?” Faizah broke the tense silence. “I come with you, or I’ll follow you. You decide, but either way, I’m coming!”
She turned to Bahaar and Harib. “Well?”
Bahaar cleared his throat and opened his mouth to speak. He shut it again and turned to Harib. “What do you think?”
“Oh no. You’re not putting this off on me!”
“Fine,” Bahaar said and cleared his throat again. “I say Faizah comes with us. We’ve been friends for a long time, and we’ve always looked out for each other.” He glanced at Harib, who nodded. “She can handle herself. We’ve never had to take care of her before. We won’t have to now.”
“That goes for me, too,” Harib added, looking at Qadir. “We never should have listened to you in the first place. Just because she’s a girl, doesn’t mean she can’t handle herself. Besides, dressed like she is, nobody would know she’s a girl, anyway.”
Qadir never took his eyes off Faizah as he slowly lowered his hand. “All right.” He nodded once, shortly. “But you’d better keep up, ’cause I sure won’t help you.”
“You won’t have to, Qadir,” Faizah said over her shoulder as she started for the pathway leading up into the foothills. “You may not think so, but I really can take care of myself.” To Bahaar and Harib, she added, “Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!”