Helena Schrader's Historical Fiction

My biographical novel of Balian d'Ibelin in three parts is complete, but the saga continues. Follow me to Cyprus, where Lusignans and Ibelins struggle to put down a rebellion and establish a durable state. Watch for excerpts and updates here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Cast of Characters: Mariam, the Syrian Femme Sole


Introducing the fictional characters of the Balian d'Ibelin Trilogy: 


Mariam, the Syrian Femme Sole, doesn't make her appearance in the Balian d'Ibelin trilogy series until the third book. I wish I'd thought of her sooner, though, as I would have loved to include her in the earlier books as well!

Mariam came to me in all her robust and hearty maturity in the middle of the night just after I'd finished writing Defender of Jerusalem. I was disturbed by poor Godwin Olafsen and his horrible fate. Yes, Balian had bought his freedom at the last minute, but he was still penniless with a crippled son. I didn't like leaving him like that. And then I had the image of Mariam, heard her scolding me in a cheerful voice, and I knew she was the answer. 


Mariam also has the important role of representing the Syrian population in the crusader states AND the many empowered women in the middle ages who were businesswomen and master craftswomen. Mariam is a native, Orthodox Christian, an ethnic group that made up a substantial minority in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. She is also an astute and successful businesswoman as was quite common across Europe in this period -- contrary to common myths about women being "mere chattels." Her role may be comparatively small, but I hope my readers enjoy Mariam's brief appearances.



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1 comment:

  1. "I was disturbed by poor Godwin Olafsen and his horrible fate . . . he was still penniless with a crippled son. I didn't like leaving him like that."

    "In pain you will eat its produce all the days of you life. And thorns and thistles it will grow for you . . . In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground." - Genesis 3:17-19.

    You forget, Professor, that life often times sucks and is nearly never "fair." 樂

    To feel pity for Olafsen is good, but to not 'leave him like that' would have made your story a "fairy tale." For the vast majority of people, life does not have a "happy ending." I like the realism of life that Olafsen's story represents.

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