Richard Warren FieldRichard Warren Field - Writer/Musician

Coming in 2014! 

The SULTAN and the Khan

A Novel

“They won't leave a soul alive. . . just the caliph putting an army in the field has condemned us all.” The sentiment in Baghdad expressed by a young Muslim scholar is blunt and accurate. Hulegu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, has arrived at the gates of Baghdad. Mongols threaten to overrun what has been the cultural and spiritual center of Islam for half a millennium. Genghis Khan and his successors have overrun much of the Islamic world, substantially depopulating central Asia in the process. They have overrun Russia, and much of eastern Europe, devastating eastern Orthodox and Catholic lands with equal ferocity. No one seems capable of opposing this apparently unstoppable tide of history.

Southwest of the coming cataclysm, a slave-soldier named Baybars, a huge blue-eyed, brown-skinned Kipchak Turk, schemes to return to Egypt and take power from Qutuz, the man who killed Baybars’ leader and drove Baybars into exile. But individual goals melt into the context of the coming confrontation between the Egyptian army and the Mongol army. They are on a collision course to meet in a decisive battle at Ayn Jalut, where history will be made. Seventy years after Richard the Lionheart invaded Muslim territory, an even more formidable enemy confronts Islam from the opposite direction. And this time Islam will need to offer a leader with more than the gentle, magnanimous qualities of Saladin. Baybars and his unlikely Muslim allies will need to counter viciousness with viciousness to save Islam. And there will be no deals short of surrender with this enemy.

The Sultan and the Khan is the story of this historic confrontation, told through the viewpoints of Baybars and Hulegu, and Hulegu’s general Kitbuqa as well as through the eyes of two fictional characters, a Muslim scholar from Baghdad, and a Christian adventurer. Christians from East and West mix in the story in strange and exotic ways. In these trying times of casual brutality and swift changes of fortune, characters face the decision of whether embracing evil in the cause of a perceived greater good is worth the price, and learn that love is not exclusive to just one religion.

The Sultan and the Khan blurs the lines of religious affiliation, challenging established views of what is right and what is wrong, of who is a villain and who is a hero. Western civilization faces a murderous threat from the East. Who is there to stop it? Muslim warriors. Who sits on the sidelines? The fading Western Christian “Crusader” state, hanging on to its last days in the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s an episode of history that emphasizes the idea of judging not by the label of a religion, but by the content of the character of its practitioners, judging not by scriptural and liturgical pronouncements, but by actions taken in a complex world. It is a story emphasizing the potentially civilization-saving idea that there may be more than one path to God for the righteous human being.

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