Synopsis: The Grip of God is the first novel in an epic historical trilogy, The Tiger and the Dove. Set in the thirteenth century, its heroine, Sofia, is a young princess of Kievan Rus. She begins her story by recounting her capture in battle and life of slavery to a young army captain in the Mongol armies that are flooding Europe. Not only is her life shattered, it is threatened by the bitter rivalries in her new master's powerful family, and shadowed by the leader of the Mongol invasion, Batu Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson. How will she learn to survive in a world of total war, much less rediscover the love she once took for granted? Always seeking to escape and menaced by outer enemies and inner turmoil, where can she find safe haven even if she can break free? Clear eyed and intelligent, Sofia could be a character from The Game of Thrones, but she refuses to believe that life is solely about the strong dominating the weak or about taking endless revenge. Her story is based on actual historical events, which haunt her destiny. Like an intelligent Forrest Gump, she reflects her times. But as she matures, she learns to reflect on them as well, and to transcend their fetters. In doing so, she recreates a lost era for us, her readers.
My Thoughts: I think this is the first time that I have seen a work of historical fiction that takes place during the Mongol invasions of Europe so I jumped at the chance to read this. The Grip of God is a very well-researched and detailed story of the fictional Princess Sofia and her time as a prisoner of the Mongols.
Sofia is a fascinating character; at times her youth is very evident and at others, she seems wise beyond her years. She was smart and tough and very resilient. She handled her trials with so much grace. She was also kind of sassy; I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes where she would be defiant toward Batu Khan and others in power.
I loved reading all about every day Mongol life and their customs. It was fascinating and Ms. Hazell described everything in great detail. I had no idea that the Mongols were so tolerant of other cultures and religions nor did I know anything about their daily life or ruling structure. I really feel like I need to go read more about them because while they are usually portrayed as savages, I think Ms. Hazell painted a pretty unbiased portrait of them including both the good and the bad.
The overall story was interesting and completely sucked me in. My only complaint is that at times, it was kind of long-winded and dragged on a bit. Otherwise, I think this was a great book and with such a neat cliffhanger ending, I'll definitely be reading the next in the series. 3 1/2 stars.
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.