Silk Roads and Shadows, a riveting rainy--or sunny summer--day read
My well-worn copy of the book
This lilting story of a warrior princess and the ghost army she battles just may capture your mind and heart and never let it go
It did mine. To show just how dear a hot, summer—or rainy—day companion Silk Roads and Shadows has been over the years, let me tell you a little story.
When I was young, I read three or four books a day. Yup, I was a speed reader, and I intended to read every book ever written. I was that curious. You can probably imagine, I didn't take time to re-read.
But one day ...
It was a balmy Saturday evening. The children were with their father. I had the house and the weekend to myself. I strolled down to the corner drug store, intent on finding a quick, no-brainer novel, a story that would carry me far away.
Was it mere serendipity that on that very night Susan Shwartz's (then) new book, Silk Roads and Shadows, was on the shelf? Picking it up, I thumbed through, scanning random paragraphs.
Before I knew it, I had turned back to the beginning and devoured twenty pages. The manager of the store stopped by and cleared his throat. They were closing. Did I want to buy the book or spend the night here with it?
Dear Reader! I walked home like a crazed woman, weaving along, immersed in Alexandra's story. That night, vicariously traveling with Shwartz's Byzantine princess, I ventured far beyond the bounds of her country, slayed a few demons and devils along the way, and fell in love with more than one handsome gent. So deeply lost in her world was I, that I read the book cover to cover without stirring, not even to answer the call of nature.
"Statues ..." breathed Alexandra. ... Chariots drawn by four terra-cotta horses, their nostrils eternally flared in rage, their manes sculpted into windblown shapes, rumbled down the ravaged slope. In each stood a charioteer, his bronze and wood weapons ready for use.
"An army of statues!" Bryennius cried. ... Their eyes, the gelid eyes of lifeless clay, gleamed in the violet light.
What happened next surprised me most of all
The moment I read the last word on the last page, the very instant I read that very last phrase, "King of Shambhala," I turned back to the first page and started the book all over again, something I had never done before, not once. Yup, I stayed up all night.
How had Shwartz captured my attention so thoroughly that I couldn't stop reading her story, not once but twice? Believe me, I've tried to dissect the work dispassionately, but every time, I get lost in the story again. Perhaps I'll never know how she does it.
Alexandra’s adventures, passions and loves draw me back again and again
Since then, whenever I want to be transported far and away to another world, I grab my much dog-eared copy from the shelf, a pile of sweet and savory vittles, a pot of tea, and settle in for a cozy adventure with the warrior princess who saves her kingdom and brings peace to her world.
Together, we race into the treacherous lands through which the Silk Road threads, steal the silkworm caterpillar from the royal Chin palace, and battle an army five thousand strong. This is no ordinary army, but an army of life-size clay soldiers who stalk the princess and her company across ancient Asia.
Sometimes, to this day, when I get to the end of the book, if time permits I turn back to page one and start over, determined this time to figure out how Shwartz grabs and holds my attention so completely, soon forgetting everything but the story once more.
If you're looking for a good tale that will mesmerize and transport you far from your every day cares, you may enjoy this story as much as I have and still do.
With all its high adventure, you might not think this tale could soothe a wounded spirit, but it can and it has mine. Perhaps it will do as much for someone in your life needing a little escape before getting back into the fray.
Have you read Silk Roads and Shadows? If so, what did you think of the story? If not, how tempted are you to grab it and spend a sunny afternoon, or a rainy Saturday, delving into this ancient world of intrigue, uncommon heroism, and adventure?
© 2013 Kathryn Grace