Chains of Nobility is the first book in the Brotherhood of the Mamluks trilogy. The Mamluks begin as slaves taken from various places. Slavers take boys from nomadic tribes where the young develop exceptional horsemanship and hunting skills early in life. After being purchased and installed in a training citadel, the slaves develop almost superhuman skills with swords, arrows, lances and horses, or are killed in the effort.
Following Duyal, the main character, on his journey, we see him evolving slowly and believably from a young nomad enslaved after watching his family killed to a deadly Islamic warrior, devoted to the man who bought him and devoted to the cause of Islam.
His story is set in a nearly forgotten time when Islamic princes fought the European Crusaders, the eastern Mongols, and amongst themselves using mercenary and quasi-enslaved armies. Many pages held something surprising—a five-senses description of living freely on the Russian steppe or in a prison cell, a boy’s memory of his lost family fading slowly or intruding into the present, some feat of endurance or prowess that bordered on unbelievable.
The book involves various nomadic cultures, Russians, Mongols, Muslims living in Egypt, horse culture, warrior culture, slave trading at a massive scale, royal blood feuds, detailed information about and use of various ancient weapons of war—and that doesn’t begin to cover the characters, places and times, journeys and relationships, settings and subplots, political and other intrigues throughout.
The author has created an intriguing and believable world from ancient ideas, settings and characters, a masterful job of both history and fiction. The interior is beautifully designed and easy to read, despite its 443 pages. Clever use of fonts signal the shift between the characters’ present lives and pasts, easing the reader through the transition to memories.
Chains of Nobility will appeal to anyone with an interest in unusual military history, the history of Islamic jihad, ancient weaponry, or warrior training.
Review by Barb Evenson (August 2019)
Duyal, a teenage nomad living on the vast Russian steppe, is captured during a Mongol invasion and forced on a long, deadly journey into the war-torn Middle East. Purchased by a Kurdish prince in eastern Turkey, his destination is an Islamic citadel, filled with similarly enslaved strangers and one merciless instructor—a man determined to purge the weaklings from his ranks and forge the survivors into Mamluks, Islamic Knights unmatched in wielding sword, arrows, and lance from atop Arabian steeds. When Duyal becomes entangled in his instructor’s schemes and his mates witness another comrade’s unjust execution, the recruits can take it no longer. Their wrath is unleashed. Chains of Nobility is the first book in the Brotherhood of the Mamluks trilogy. Set during the 13th century, the book is an immersive dive into the world of military slavery—a Muslim institution largely unheard of in the West, whose ranks ousted the Crusaders and Mongols from the Levant, preserving Islam. Chains of Nobility was recently selected as a finalist for the 2019 Colby Award, which "recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a major contribution to the understanding of military history, intelligence operations, or international affairs."
ISBN/ASIN: 13:978-0999633854, 13: 978-0-9996338-2-3 , 10: 0-9996338-2-1
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 443