Tour: The Scribe & The Land of God (The Two Daggers, Book 1 & 2) by Elizabeth R. Andersen
Book Title: The Scribe
Series: (The Two Daggers, Book 1)
Author: Elizabeth R. Andersen
Publication Date:18th July 2021
Publisher: Haeddre Press
Page Length: 360 Pages
Book Title: The Land of God
Series: (The Two Daggers, Book 2)
Author: Elizabeth R. Andersen
Publication Date:8th November 2021
Publisher: Haeddre Press
Page Length: 350 Pages
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All Henri of Maron wanted was to stay with his family on his country estate, surrounded by lemon groves and safety. But in 13th century Palestine, when noble-born boys are raised to fight for the Holy Land, young Henri will be sent to live and train among men who hate him for what he is: a French nobleman of an Arab mother. Robbed of his humanity and steeped in cruelty, his encounters with a slave soldier, a former pickpocket, and a kindly scribe will force Henri to confront his own beliefs and behaviors. Will Henri maintain the status quo in order to fit into a society that doesn’t want him, or will fate intervene first? The first book in The Two Daggers series, The Scribe takes readers on a sweeping adventure through the years and months that lead up to the infamous Siege of Acre in 1291 CE and delves into the psyches of three young people caught up in the wave of history.
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Pain. His sister’s screams. And a beautiful face in the jeering crowd. When Henri of Maron woke, he had only a few memories of his brutal flogging, but he knew the world had changed. He had changed. Now, as he grapples with the fallout from his disastrous decisions, war with the Mamluk army looms closer. To convince the city leaders to take the threat seriously, Henri and the grand master of the Templars must rely on unlikely allies and bold risks to avoid a siege. Meanwhile, Sidika is trying to find a way to put her life back together. When she is forced to flee her home, her chance encounters with a handsome amir and a strangely familiar old woman will have consequences for her future. The Land of God weaves the real historical figures with rich, complex characters and an edge-of-seat plot. Readers who enjoyed the Brethren series by Robyn Young and The Physician by Noah Gordon will appreciate this immersive tale set in the Middle East in the Middle Ages.
Torture, violence, sexual assault, sexual content
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Excerpt from The Land of God (The Two Daggers, Book 2)
“Is this your first time seeing Acre, amir?”
Yusuf turned and looked at the young usted who sat comfortably next to him on his mount. He admired the man’s confidence. Although his soul longed to cry out the name of Allah and rush down to claim the city, he did not look forward to the slaughter that lay before him. He dragged his gaze back to the west, over the rooftops, and across the blinding white sea.
“No, it is not the first time I have seen Acre. I have seen it many times.”
Every time he had to travel between Cairo and Damascus he saw Acre, as it so happened. During his last trip, he had stopped in the city for a day to visit with his old friend Marcus le Grec, who was a most worthy opponent at shatranj and a generally sensible man, for an infidel. Marcus, a fallen priest, kept his adoration of Greek women no secret from anyone, earning him his surname when he lived in Cairo as a translator for Yusuf’s master, Badahir. His exceptional knowledge of the workings of Acre’s defenses and political intrigues made it an especially fruitful trip, and Yusuf had a trove of valuable information to relay to Khalil upon his return to Cairo.
Yusuf had been elated on his last trip through Acre, for he had just secured his second wife, a young woman of an influential Damascene family, who would travel to his home in Cairo as soon as the battle for Acre had ended. Yusuf planned to send fifty troops to travel with her, but he feared even that was not enough. The Christians were mostly hiding inside their double walls right now and would soon be eradicated, but the Mongols and the Bedu still prowled the roads, causing trouble for travelers.
She was much younger than Abreshmina had been when they married, but the girl’s father assured him that was a good thing. Better to have a young wife with more energy in the marital bed and the birthing chair, and besides, Amir Sanjar al-Shuja’i’s oldest son was already beginning to sniff around like a hungry dog, her father said. Her face was homely, but her manners were gentle and sweet. Yes, she might even be pleasanter to live with than Abreshmina, who sulked when she did not get what she wanted.
Yusuf blinked hard. It was the eve of battle. Staring at the tall, fortified walls of the last great Christian city in Palestine was no time to become sentimental about a wife that he had not even bedded yet. He needed to focus. Tersely, he ordered the young usted to collect a report on the city’s northern flank, for the regiment from Hama was setting up their terrible machine on that side of the city just as another rose in the south. From where he stood, Yusuf still could not perceive any siege machines that seemed more menacing than the rest. Abū al-Fidā, the usted in charge of the Hama unit, bragged much about his mighty trebuchets, but Yusuf had seen little result so far.
A young fursān with blonde lashes and brows slid from his horse and bowed low.
“Lord Khalil is asking for you in his tent on the potter’s hill.”
“You may refer to me as ‘lord’ and Khalil as ‘his eminence, the sultan,’” Yusuf muttered. The young man looked up fearfully.
“I beg of his and your forgiveness, my lord Yusuf.”
Yusuf waved him away and turned his mount toward the flat-topped hill, where Khalil’s masons were assiduously pulling the walls down on what appeared to have been some kind of church with an olive press attached to it. Nearby, another group of masons, slaves taken from the hill villages, chipped the stones into projectiles for the siege engines. Nothing must be wasted.
Beyond the masons, Khalil’s red tent heaved in the wind.
It was dark inside the tent, and Khalil paced with nervous excitement.
“It is a fair shame that we will not preserve this city,” the sultan remarked as Yusuf entered and genuflected. “The sea breezes here are fresh in my nostrils, even though I can smell the stink of the infidels living within the walls. Stand up, for God’s sake.”
Yusuf rose and stood stiffly, hands folded in front of him where Khalil could see them. He kept his face pleasant, hiding his unease. Khalil’s newfound authority had made him cruel. Just a few days prior, Yusuf had had to bear witness to another strangling. This time it was a eunuch who had reportedly been gossiping about Khalil’s toileting habits to the other servants.
“What of the Furious and the Victorious?”
“I cannot yet see them rising above the other machines, but Abū al-Fidā swears to us on the bones of his grandfather that they will be as magnificent as we have been led to believe.”
“Good. Let the Franj become lulled and comfortable before the engines are finished. We will draw out their dread.”
“Wise, my lord.”
“What is wrong with you, Yusuf?” Khalil swatted at a fly, and a small slave boy rushed forward to chase it out of the tent. The sultan sat down heavily on his gold chair, set up facing the front door. He looked out of the open flaps, tapping his fingers impatiently on the chair’s padded arms.
“Nothing, my lord. I am fatigued from the journey.”
“Then go sleep. Take a woman or some wine. Have you seen the quantity of ice that al-Shuja’i brought with him from Damascus? The residents of this city chill their fruit with it.”
“I do not drink wine, my lord,” and neither did you, Yusuf thought to himself, until you took your throne.
Khalil sprang from his chair and resumed his pacing. “Have you seen Lajin?”
“He was on his way to the east to assist in calming some of the fighting that had broken out within our ranks. The Kipchaks and the Seljuks have been at each other again, and two men have already died in duels.”
“Ha! Doubtless, Lajin is using that as an excuse to evade me. He will be on his way over the mountains to flee to the Mongols before the day is done, mark me.” His anxious fingers tapped his thigh. “You will go find him, Yusuf. Bring him back to me.”
“Me, my lord? On the eve of battle? Can we not send a small troop of ‘askari led by one of my trusted usteds?”
Khalil turned slowly, and Yusuf felt a spreading dread roll through his body.
“Yes, you, Yusuf. Lajin spoke ill of me before I claimed the throne, and he has been avoiding me ever since. I want him arrested.”
Yusuf was speechless. He commanded one of the largest regiments from Cairo – hundreds of blue-clad ‘askari of his house looked to him for leadership during battle. To be asked to leave at this time was madness and folly. Khalil noted Yusuf’s delay with narrowed eyes, but he waited. Behind the throne, in the dark shadows of the tent’s recesses, Yusuf saw movement, and his hand went instinctively to the hilt of his dagger. For a moment, Khalil stepped back, alarmed.
Ibn al-Sal’us emerged from the dark, hands clasped ingratiatingly, and Khalil relaxed.
“Ah. For a moment, I thought my good friend Yusuf was about to plunge his dagger into my heart. He must have meant it for you, al-Sal’us.”
The man favored Yusuf with a thin smile and bowed deeply to Khalil, touching his fingertips to his forehead.
“My lord sultan,” he mumbled, “Lajin moves further away from us. If he escapes, he may try to parley with the Mongols and band against you. Is it not time for the amir to be on his way?”
Few people had any fondness for al-Sal’us, who was not even a Mamluk or a descendent of one, but Yusuf had reserved judgment until this moment. He now knew that he hated al-Sal’us as much as the other amirs did.
“I will find Lajin and bring him back, your eminence,” he addressed Khalil and ignored the groveling wazir. “And if Allah wills it, I will be back in time to lead my troops into battle, where we will take the city.”
Elizabeth R. Andersen's debut novel, The Scribe, launched in July of 2021. Although she spent many years of her life as a journalist, independent fashion designer, and overworked tech employee, there have always been two consistent loves in her life: writing and history. She finally decided to do something about this and put them both together.
Elizabeth lives in the Seattle area with her long-suffering husband and young son. On the weekends she usually hikes in the stunning Cascade mountains to hide from people and dream up new plotlines and characters. Elizabeth is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B099RJ66RM