Wednesday 22 April 2015

Blog Tour Spotlight - The Queen of Sparta by T.S. Chaudhry

The Queen of Sparta
Author: T.S. Chaudhry 
Publisher: Top Hat Books 
Pages: 383 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Book Description:
Author T.S. Chaudhry offers a new spin on Spartan history in his novel, THE QUEEN OF SPARTA. In the book, Queen Gorgo, the wife of the courageous Spartan leader, Leonidas, surreptitiously organizes the Greek resistance against the invasion of the mighty Persian king, Xerxes, and his massive army. Although founded on the writings of historian, Herodotus, Chaudhry’s revision of the 480 B.C. invasion challenges readers to imagine the brilliant and politically savvy Queen Gorgo as the Spartan leader who wielded her power with stealth and cunning to end the Persian occupation of Greece.

Gorgo devises a strategy using espionage and diplomacy, in addition to Sparta’s military might, to defeat the Persians and drive them out of Greece. During the last battle of the war, Prince Sherzada, a Saka, is captured while fighting on the Persian side. He is imprisoned by Gorgo, who has vowed to kill him. However, an unexpected alliance blooms between Gorgo and Sherzada, based on common perceptions and a shared dark secret. As allies, the queen and prince face new dangers from within Sparta that threaten the safety of Gorgo and her young son, the king.

As the story progresses, Queen Gorgo must choose between confronting the reactionary forces within Sparta directly or saving her life and the life of her child.

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA begins on the Banks of Indus, and takes the reader through time and space to Greece, Tuscany, Rome, and the Baltic coast of northern Europe and attempts to link some of the main cultures of that time period. “In the novel, I tried to present the conflict through the eyes of two protagonists,” Chaudhry states. “The Greek viewpoint is presented through Queen Gorgo, and the opposing one is represented by Prince Sherzada, who becomes her prisoner. The whole story is also a deliberate attempt to confuse ‘the possession’ of history because, actually, history belongs to all of us.”

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA informs the reader about the politics of ancient Greece in the 5th Century, B.C. and about Sparta, its people, and its culture; the book also describes what made the Spartans great while sharing the flaws and contradictions within their society. Chaudhry notes that “fiction is art immitating life. That is how I see the relationship between historical fiction and history. History has wonderful stories to tell. And it gets more wonderful the further in the past you go where evidence is sparse, but the realm of creativity is rich. I love to find out how things happened the way they did. Ancient history provides us with a rich variety of potential answers that are always fun to explore.”

The author’s goal in writing THE QUEEN OF SPARTA was to share the message that “one must stand for one’s principles, for what one believes to be right, even in the face of overwhelming opposition.”

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The Agora
Autumn, 480 BC

The man was trying to sit very still. He was on horseback, in full armour, facing a throng of mostly unarmed men and women. And yet he was trembling. He seemed too afraid even to dismount his horse.
A man, in front of the crowd, laughed. He was tall, with hair falling well below his shoulder and an equally long moustache-less beard. “This time they sent us a Greek. Why did the Persians send you and not one of their own? Are they afraid we would stuff them down the well again?”
Laughter roared across the marketplace.
The envoy, still shaking, cleared his throat and said, “I bring a message from the Great King Xerxes to the King of Sparta.”
A small voice shouted, “I am he!”
Looking down, the envoy saw a small dark-haired boy of around eight years looking up at him. He waited for someone to laugh at the boy’s impertinence or even shout at him. But none did.
“I am Pleistarchus, son of Leonidas,” said the boy.
The messenger plucked enough courage to say, “Sparta has two kings. I wish to speak with the older one.”
A young woman had stepped forward. She was long-haired and beautiful. Standing behind the boy, she placed her hands on his small shoulders. “He is away,” she said. “You will have to deliver your message to my son.”
 “Go on,” said the boy king, his tiny voice carrying authority.
“His Majesty, King Xerxes, says: I have destroyed your army at Thermopylae. My forces have occupied Athens. And your turn will soon come. You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I shall destroy your farms, slaughter your people, and raze your city to the ground.
There was silence.
The boy king turned around and looked up at his mother. Her eyes blazed as she stared into the eyes of the messenger. Herlips curled mischievously as she gave him her response: “If!”

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

About the Author
T. S. Chaudhry was born in Karachi, Pakistan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Formerly a Pakistani diplomat, Chaudhry currently works for the United Nations on peace and security issues in Africa.

THE QUEEN OF SPARTA is Chaudhry’s first novel. He came up with the idea to write a story about Queen Gorgo being the architect of the Greek resistance against the Persian invasion while reading Herodotus for his A-Level examination in England several decades ago. “As a lover of history, or a ‘history-buff,’ I have always enjoyed reading both fiction and nonfiction about this period.”

Chaudhry is currently working on a “prequel” to THE QUEEN OF SPARTA based on events leading up to the Battle of Marathon, called Fennel Field.

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