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Moon Queen

by Katharine Branning

The story of a queen of courage who rose to a full moon to reign with wisdom and love in the 13th century Asia Minor

Paperback
: Sep 15, 2014 • 536 Pages • 5.5 x 8.25 inches • ISBN 9781935295259
Categories
: Featured Books, Fiction, History,
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DESCRIPTION

Mahperi, wife and mother of sultans, is at the center of this saga which unfolds amidst the turbulent backdrop of the 13th century Seljuk Empire of Turkey. Mahperi the Moon Queen shone as brightly as the moon she was named for, surviving with dignity in a competitive court ruled by both love and hate in an era of builders and destroyers. Armed with intelligence and determination, she courageously weathered power struggles with male and female rivals, wars with the Mongols, intrigue at the court and ultimate betrayal to become one of the most influential figures in the Empire. Hers is the story of a woman who dreamed to build and leave a legacy in stone, alongside enlightened Sufis and gifted craftsmen. It is the portrait of love yearned, earned and lost.Inspired by true events and people, Moon Queen weaves a bright carpet of inspiration, by turns harrowing and heartbreaking, providing a new perspective on one of the most glorious periods of Turkish history.
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INTRODUCTION

From the middle of the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th, the Seljuks of Anatolia (present-day Turkey), created one of the most significant centers of Islamic Middle Eastern culture. The Seljuk Empire, while lasting only one hundred and fifty short years, is considered one of the most glorious periods of Turkish history.

Alaeddin Keykubad I (r. 1220-1237) was the most renowned of the Seljuk sultans. The legendary figure of Alaeddin Keykubad looms large in the consciousness of the Turkish people. Streets, squares and universities bear his name today; his buildings grace towns across the Anatolian plain, children are named after him and study his exploits in school.

This novel tells the story of Mahperi Hatun (120? - 1255?), the wife of this celebrated sultan. Mahperi Hatun used her influence, wealth, and creative intelligence to build an important series of monuments after the death of her husband. She is one of the earliest female art patrons in Turkish history. Yet, almost nothing is known of her life. There are only a few mentions of her name in the works of the historians Ibn Bibi, Bar Hebraeus, and Simon de Saint-Quentin. There are no archives to bring her to life, no wondrous letters, memos, or remembrances by contemporaries.

This leaves us with her built works as the sole voice to tell her story. Although the real person of Mahperi may seem as distant as the moon for which she was named, the stones of her architectural legacy still shine strongly today.

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REVIEWS AND AWARDS

A delightful surprise is in store for readers who love being in touch with history in a visceral way through its most vibrant, sometimes outlandish personalities. Moon Queen, Katharine Branning’s latest, is set in Turkey, as was her earlier Yes, I Would Love Another Glass of Tea, though during an entirely different time period. This time, we are introduced to Mahperi, wife and mother of sultans in the 13th Century, a woman whose accomplishments would remain unknown to most of us without Ms. Branning’s deep research into unusual sources. The novel treats us to intrigues worthy of the Borgias and plunges us into a historical moment that fascinates, while also allowing us to feel that we are relating to flesh and blood persons. Don’t try for aesthetic distance while reading this novel. Just immerse yourself in its lusciousness. A book such as Moon Queen does much to dispel oversimplifications by introducing us to a deep and vast old culture, thereby increasing our understanding of that culture in the present. Though Branning does not make a claim to total historical accuracy, she contributes immeasurably to our own pleasure in experiencing this exquisite moment in time and space. Branning made me want to eat those meals, touch those fabrics, see those old stones, be present in 13th Century Turkey.

Dr. Joanna Dezio,
Montclair State University


Katharine Branning, the author of the 2010 collection of essays about Turkey, “Yes, I Would Love another Glass of Tea,” has a new book out: “Moon Queen.”


The American author recounts the tale of Queen Mahperi Hatun in “Moon Queen,” her first novel, published in October by Blue Dome Press. Set in the Seljuk era, the book tells of an extraordinary woman who built caravanserais, medreses, mosques and hamams so her people would have whatever was necessary for their physical, intellectual and spiritual needs -- a woman whose kindness caused her to be considered the “Mary of her times and the Khadija of her times.”


The story takes place in the 13th century, during the reigns of Seljuk Sultans Alaeddin Keykubad and Giyaseddin Keyhusrev II, Mahperi's husband and son, respectively.


Branning narrates how Keykubad expanded the Seljuk Empire beyond imagination. Keykubad was a conqueror, a builder and a successful sultan, which brought about jealousy and conspiracies that culminated in his premature death. Sultan Keyhusrev II's reign was marked by manipulation and corruption that weakened the empire until it fell into the hands of the Mongols. Mahperi lived her life showing love, compassion and tolerance through all the court turmoil, and built magnificent buildings as an expression of her love for God.


In a recent interview with Sunday's Zaman, Branning speaks about “Moon Queen.” Read full interview


Aydogan Vatandas
Sunday's Zaman (Today's Zaman)
November 29,  2014


13th century Turkey: The Sultana Mahperi was born Maryam, during her lifetime as wife and mother to sultans, she built mosques and caravan stops to develop important trade routes. Those sites’ fabulous architecture inspired this novel...

Richard Bourgeois
Historical Novel Society
HNR Issue 70 (November 2014)



Spotted on Amazon..Moon Queen by Katharine Branning.

Mahperi the Moon Queen survived in a competitive court ruled by both love and hate in an era of builders and destroyers. Armed with intelligence and determination, she courageously weathered power struggles with male and female rivals, wars with the Mongols, intrigue at the court, and ultimate betrayal to become one of the most influential figures in the empire.

Inspired by true events and people, Moon Queen weaves a bright carpet of inspiration, by turns inspiring and heartbreaking, providing a new perspective on one of the most glorious periods of Turkish history.

Blog: Book Babe
Reading Radar (9/20/2014)
http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-reading-radar-9202014.html#.VRnMmWveynl.twitter


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EXTRAS

Ebook ISBN: 9781935295679





Interview with Katharine Branning by Aydogan Vatandas:

http://todayszaman.com/anasayfa_katharine-branning-brings-mahperi-hatun-to-life-in-moon-queen_365662.html



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ABOUT AUTHOR

Katharine Branning
Katharine Branning

Katharine Branning has degrees from the University of Paris, Sorbonne and the Ecole du Louvre, where she majored in Islamic arts, with a specialty in Islamic glass. A graduate of the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, she has been a librarian at the French Institute of Architecture in Paris, France, at the French Embassy Cultural Services and the Alliance Francaise in New York City. For her work promoting the French language and culture through the creation of numerous libraries in both France and the United States, she has been awarded the Ordre national du Mérite from the President of France, one of the nation's highest honors.She has studied the Turkish language and literature at the Institute of Langues Orientales in Paris and with Prof. Talat S. Halman at New York University. As an independent researcher and glass artist, she has conducted annual field work relative to architecture and decorative arts in Turkey every year since 1978.She currently lives in New York, where she is Vice President of Education at the French Institute Alliance Francaise.

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