The Moroccan Empire Series
11th century Morocco. A Muslim warlord named Yusuf bin Tashfin and his Almoravid army, creates an empire that stretches across North Africa and into Spain (defeating El Cid along the way). This series tells the interlinked story of four women. Zaynab, Yusuf’s powerful but jealous queen. Her handmaid Hela, a healer who has made an impossible vow. Kella, a Berber tribeswoman who marries Yusuf and bears him a son but has to flee Morocco to protect her child. And Isabella, a Spanish nun, sold into slavery in Morocco, who finds herself mother to Yusuf’s heir.
Each novel can be read as a standalone, but you will meet the same characters in each book, changing your perspective as you follow each woman’s journey and understand her actions, both good and bad.
Author: Melissa Addey
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Letterpress Publishing
Hela has powers too strong for a child – both to feel the pain of those around her and to heal them. But when she is given a mysterious cup by a slave woman, its powers overtake her life, forcing her into a vow she cannot hope to keep. Trapped by her vow, Hela loses one chance after another to love and be loved. Meanwhile in her household a child is growing into a woman who will become famous throughout the Muslim world.
This is a novella (100 pages) and you can get it for free on my website www.melissaaddey.com
Watch the trailer:
Slaves should not be sold in the hottest
part of the day, they tremble on the block or
sometimes faint away and no-one will buy a
slave who shows signs of weakness. Besides, the customers
grow weary of standing in the heat themselves and are
unlikely to buy, growing ill-tempered and tight fisted. The
heat today is reaching its zenith and my father is anxious
to finish his work for the day and retire for food and drink.
“A fine man! Broad shoulders, calloused hands. Long
legs. A good worker sir, he will serve you well.”
There is a pause while my father watches his customer’s
face as he inspects the slave. Standing by his side I murmur
something and my father pretends to give me water to
drink, the better to hear me.
“He is afraid,” I say, speaking directly into my father’s
ear. “A slave beat him once.”
My father does not change expression, nor ask how I
know. He pats me on the head before speaking loudly. “Be
off with you, stop pestering me now, Hela. I have business
to attend to.” I move away and become wholly engrossed
with a doll, a ragged little thing I have very little interest in.
My father’s camel whooshes in my ear and I slap its hairy
face and stinking breath away from me.
My father turns back to his customer. “Of course, one
must be careful with such an ox of a man that he has also a
good temperament,” he says. “One cannot be too careful.”
Without warning, he cuffs the slave’s head. The unexpected
blow causes him to stagger. He regains his stance looking
a little bewildered but shows no sign of anger. I watch the
customer’s face relax in relief and know that my father has
made a sale.
I mainly write historical fiction: my first novel, The Fragrant Concubine, was Editor’s Choice at the Historical Novel Society, my latest, The Cold Palace, won the 2019 Novel London award. I was the Leverhulme Trust Writer in Residence at the British Library and now run regular workshops there. I am just completing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. I live in London with my husband and two young children who help me with research trips and exploring new eras.
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A String of Silver Beads
North Africa, 1067. Kella is a girl disguised as a boy, travelling the trade routes and beating all comers in the camel races. When her true identity is revealed, she is sent home to the family desert camp to be taught women’s skills. But Kella yearns for her freedom and the excitement of life on the road and when a mighty army sets out on a holy mission, she risks marriage to its general, Yusuf. While Yusuf conquers the whole of North Africa, Kella finds herself a rival to his infamous queen consort, Zaynab, a powerful and jealous woman. Can Kella protect herself and her newborn son? Can she find the freedom she craves as well as love?
Watch the trailer:
(Note, the men in this time and place veiled their faces, women did not)
I wake with a start as the man near me pokes me with his
“Commander says we must be on our way,” he says. I
put my hand to my face to make sure it is hidden but I am
safe. I struggle to my feet and roll up my blanket, kneeling
to fasten the strap holding it in place.
I look up over my shoulder. A man stands behind me.
“The General asks for you.”
I swallow. “The General? What for?”
“How would I know? Don’t keep him waiting.”
I stand, stumbling over my blanket and then follow
the man’s pointed finger towards a solitary figure some way
away from the men. Yusuf. I hesitate but I have no choice.
I make my way over to him. He is sitting calmly, one knee
pulled up, his hands wrapped around it while he gazes
across the dunes. When I reach him I stop at a distance
and wait for him to notice me. I hope he will not ask me to
come any nearer to him.