An imaginative and sprawling epic fantasy reimagining of the Mongol Empire's invasion of Persia, following the lives and treacherous journeys of four key figures in the heart of war.
Due to the efforts of the great Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire covers a vast portion of the known world. In the shadow of his grandfather, Hulagu Khan, ruler of the Ilkhanate, is determined to create a single empire that covers the entire world. His method? Violence.
His youngest son, Temujin Khan, struggles to find his place in his father’s bloody rule. After another failure, Temujin is given one last chance to prove himself to Hulagu, who is sure there is a great warrior buried deep inside. But there’s something else rippling under the surface… something far more powerful and dangerous than they could ever imagine.
Reduced to the position of one of Hulagu’s many wives, the famed Blue Princess Kokochin is the last of her tribe. Alone and forgotten in a foreign land, Kokochin is unwilling to spend her days seeking out trivial pursuits. Seeking purpose, she finds herself wandering down a path that grants her more power than a wife of the Khan may be allowed.
Kaivon, the Persian rebel who despises the Mongols for the massacre of his people, thirsts for revenge. However, he knows alone he cannot destroy the empire. When given the opportunity to train under the tutelage of Hulagu, Kaivon must put aside his feelings and risk his life for a chance to destroy the empire that aims to conquer the world.
Family and war collide in this thrilling and bloody reimagining of the Mongol Empire’s invasion of Persia.
The Judas Blossom is an historical fantasy novel that starts The Nightingale and The Falcon series, a reimagining of the Persian Empire story, written by Stephen Aryan, and published by Angry Robot Books. In this new series, we get immersed in the fights and political intrigue that surrounded the Mongol and Persian Empire during the Ilkhanate of Hulagu Khan, grandson of the famous Genghis Khan, whose expansionist ideas still last.
Taking place at the height of the said expansion, we have a character-driven story that follows four different POVs, each one with a different background: first of all, we have the own Hulagu, the general of the armies who using violence as the method it's expanding the Mongol empire through Persian lands; secondly, Temujin Khan, son of Hulagu, a complete disappointment for his father, but determined to live to his father ideas, getting enrolled into the army after his umpteenth failure. In addition to those POVs from the Khan family, Aryan decides to give one to Kokochin, the famous Blue Princess, a rather obscure historical character, the last of her tribe and that becomes one of the wives of Hulagu; and finally, we have Kalvon, a Persian rebel, aware that it's almost impossible to beat the Mongol Empire by the use of military force, decides to take the opportunity of joining as one of the assistants of Hulagu.
Those four POVs are masterfully woven into a compelling story by Aryan, who manages to portray a rather unknown historical period, bordering at many points the frontier between historical fiction and historical fantasy. And a rather dark historical portrait, I must say, as the author is not shy of showing the violence and the destruction that accompanied the Mongolian armies during their conquests.
Pacing is relatively slow, as a big part of the book is used to build solid foundations to create a big story over them. Despite this, I would say that it is a really interesting book to read, as even when building said bases, there is plenty of action and intrigue (especially during the research made by Temujin, and The Twelve inclusion).
I must add that worldbuilding is made with an exquisite tact for foreshadowing details that later will gain relevance, and the research behind the historical aspect of this book is one of his strengths.
Fantastical aspects are marginal, in the style of some other low fantasy stories, such as Game of Thrones, despite I suspect it will become more important in the next books.
If you are looking for an excellent historical fantasy novel, The Judas Blossom is a great starting point. Stephen Aryan has written a marvelous story, and I, personally, can't wait for the second book in The Nightingale and The Falcon series.
Stephen Aryan was born in Iran in 1977 and raised in Whitley Bay, on the northeast coast of the UK. He has been reading fantasy since a very young age. It started with books by David Eddings, Tolkien, C.S Lewis, Terry Brooks, Ursula le Guin, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman and later David Gemmell, who had a huge influence on his work.
Stephen lives in the West Midlands with his partner and two cats. When he’s not writing novels or podcasting, he can be found drinking real ale, reading books or watching TV.