Tag Archives: ottoman empire

Vienna’s Last Jihad, by C. Wayne Dawson, Brings to Light 1683 Siege of Vienna by Turks

Vienna's Last JihadVienna’s Last Jihad, by C. Wayne Dawson, is a military action novel that takes on educating readers about the 1683 conflict in Vienna with invading Turks, which many don’t know ended up being a large turning point in history. However, it seems that there isn’t a wealth of information out there about the topic for the mainstream public and so it was a great choice for Dawson to form a novel around.

The foundation of his book delves into how Vienna’s 11,000 defenders defeated 138,000 Turks, utilizing a Professor of Languages, named Mathis Zieglar.  A scholar, Mathis uses his intellect, his ability to speak Tartar,  and his fighting skills, to make decisions to save those he loves as well as his country from the Turkish Empire.

It’s evident that Dawson did an enormous amount of research on the subject (and you’ll find resources in the back of his book that supports that theory) and he really focuses on the events leading up to the final conflict. It might be somewhat difficult to read through some parts due to your violence meter, but I find that in almost every military historical I read that’s written by a  man. I’m not being sexist, it’s just what I’ve encountered to date! The male authors I’ve read in this genre seem to air on the side of historical accuracy and detailed fight scenes, events, weapons, and clothing as opposed to having the novel be a more character driven fantasy. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but I do feel as a reviewer I need to point it out because I am helping readers buy books that fit what they want to read.  It most certainly will appeal to historians and military enthusiasts, but I believe that it could also be used in universities and colleges in their teaching about the Ottoman Empire and the past conflicts between various religions throughout history.

The excitement in the novel comes from protagonist Mathis moving through one adventure and situation to the next dangerous one. He wants to save his fiance from the Inquisition, his country from the Turks, and his family. He’s heroic and loyal and this shines through.

It’s not one of those books that moves me to tears or makes me shout from the mountains, but it does feel like a book I might have read for one of my college classes during the pursuit of my bachelor degree in history. It’s a historical that has action, adventure, detail, and authenticity. It’s an educated read as opposed to a novel you’d pick up on a Friday night when you just need to get lost in a story.

Come back tomorrow for my interesting interview with C. Wayne Dawson.

Vienna's Last JihadVienna’s Last Jihad, Synopsis~

Publication Date: October 20, 2013
Katy Crossing Press
Paperback; 334p
ISBN-13: 978-1490426341

Brash and brilliant, twenty year old Mathis Zieglar, Professor of Languages, faces an agonizing choice: should he fight the Turks who take his family hostage and move to destroy Vienna? Or should he betray his army to save his kin? Vienna’s Last Jihad is an historical novel set against the 1683 siege of Vienna.

Europe is balanced on a knife’s edge while Mathis, the man who holds its fate in his hands, struggles against powerful enemies: Father Sistini, a Jesuit who brands him a heretic and drags Mathis’ fiancée off to the Inquisition; a xenophobic city mob, who wants him dead for protecting a Hungarian soldier; but most dangerous of all, Captain Tyrek, a Muslim chieftain who will kill Mathis’ family unless he spies against his own army. One by one, Tyrek’s agents murder Mathis’ closest associates in an attempt to isolate him. As 138,000 Turks grind down Vienna’s 11,000 defenders with no relief in sight, Mathis’ only chance to save family and country is to use his wits, the ability to speak Tartar and the knack he learned as a child to leap, whirl, and strike.


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Author C. Wayne Dawson, Biography~

C. Wayne DawsonC. Wayne Dawson writes for The Williamson County Sun, and has written for History Magazine, Focus On Georgetown, The Georgetown Advocate, and SAFVIC Law Enforcement Newsletter. In 2012, he founded Central Texas Authors, an author’s marketing collective.

He was an Adjunct Professor of History for ten years at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he created the Chautauqua program. There, he enlisted scholars, government officials and activists to discuss and debate social policy before the student body and the media.

In 2009, the students of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society honored him with the Glaux Mentor Teacher Award for bringing the Chautauqua program to Mt. SAC.

He currently lives in Georgetown, TX with his wife and two dogs.

For more information please visit C. Wayne Dawson’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Tour Page: www.hfvirtualbooktours.com/viennaslastjihadtour
Tour Hashtag: #ViennasLastJihadVirtualTour

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Interview with Nicole Dweck of The Debt of Tamar: Refugees to Ottoman Empire, Characters, Writing, and Travel

Tonight, I have an awesome interview with Nicole Dweck, the author of The Debt of Tamar! I loved this book, you can see my five-star review here–>REVIEW. Enjoy the interview!

Hi Nicole, happy to have you on Oh, for the Hook of a Blog! Your book was amazing and I was in tears by the end. I love the kind of literature that intertwines faiths and cultures and which includes how our history shapes our fates or lives today. I have an affinity to Middle Easter works as well. Congratulations on your release! How has your debut novel, The Debt of Tamar, been received for you?

The Debt of Tamar

Nicole: Erin! Thank you so much for all your encouraging words. As a writer, it means so much to know that my book was meaningful to you. The book has been very well-received and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I think that there is definitely a certain “type” of reader that this book appeals to. I find that readers interested in Middle East Fiction, or more culturally oriented fiction, tend to really enjoy this book. That’s not to say that readers of other genres won’t enjoy it. I recently received an email from a woman who swears she ONLY reads Sci-fi, telling me that she loved it!

Erin: I agree that it’s great to hear that your writing touches someone else too.  I am so happy that your book is getting good reviews, because it deserves it. I think anyone can enjoy it! I’d love some strong coffee and to sit down to continue our discussion. Can I offer you your choice of drink? What is your favorite?

Nicole: Half coffee half milk would be great! I’m a latte lady.

Erin: I’m going to ask you just a few questions since I know you are busy on your tour. Let get started! Where did your inspiration come from for The Debt of Tamar?

Nicole: While studying Middle East history in college, I came across so many people who believed that the current religious/social rift between Judaism and Islam was “normal.” There was this assumption that these two religions have always been at odds, and will always be at odds, as though the cultural tension was some kind of natural phenomenon. I found that idea so disheartening! I sought to illuminate a time period in history that no only shattered those assumptions, but proved quite the opposite to be true. What I’m referring to, of course, is the time period depicted in my book, when thousands of refugees were welcomed in and rescued by Ottoman rulers of the day. I hoped that by illuminating this event in history, people would revisit their assumptions and open their minds to the idea of a peaceful future for all peoples of the world, regardless of race or religion.

Erin: It wasn’t until after I read the book, and visited your website, that I realized that some of the characters in your historical fantasy were based on real people!! That made it even more exciting for me! Can you talk about how you chose, researched, and utilized them to write your novel?

Nicole: One of my main historical characters, Dona Antonia Nissim, was inspired by the real life heroin, Dona Gracia Nasi. As a descendant of Inquisition refugees, it was hard for me not to be drawn to this woman! I often wondered, were my ancestors some of those directly affected by her actions?

A widow at 28 and one of the wealthiest women in the world, she used her tremendous fortune to assist persecuted refugees in finding a safe haven beyond Iberia. She could have easily remarried and embraced a lifestyle of comfort and leisure among European nobility, but she never forgot those persecuted around her and risked her life to ensure their safety by operating a sophisticated underground escape route. A true humanitarian and a woman ahead of her time, it’s difficult not to be inspired by her courage and fortitude.

Erin: The sights, sounds, and locations in your book jumped off the page and surrounded my senses, offering a visual and impactful experience. Have you traveled to any of the places within your book and how did you research in order to bring this through so clearly?

Nicole: Absolutely. In fact, I have traveled to almost every region in the book except for Portugal (and I do hope to get there soon.) While visiting the locations that would serve as the book’s various settings, I also tried to immerse myself in native literature to get a sense of the “communal mood” that only an “insider” could ever truly detect. For example, while in Istanbul, I read as much Orhan Pamuk as I could get my hands on. In Israel, I plunged into the beautiful prose of Amos Oz to help me put what I was seeing and sensing into some kind of regional and communal framework. When writing about war-time France, I read diaries of Jewish residents and other locals that had lived in Paris to get a sense of what life was like as the events of the day were unfolding.

I wanted to really comprehend all that I was experiencing from the inside out, rather than the other way around, if that makes sense.

Erin: You had so many layers and character stories layering each other. What was your process to construct it this way and how did you keep it all straight?!

Nicole: When I began writing this story, I knew that it would begin in 16th Century Iberia and end in modern day Manhattan. I had no idea what would come in between but I began with a starting point and an end point. In fact, the first two chapters I ever wrote were the very first, and the very last. This gave me some sort of framework with which to work. From there, I let my imagination run wild and really didn’t restrain myself too much. As for the multiple storylines, it really wasn’t all that hard to keep track of the characters or their stories. I was “hanging out” with these “people” as much as my own friends or family members, so I knew them intimately, making it hard to forget even the slightest detail of their personal journeys.

Erin: Do you have more books in process or that you are considering writing?

Nicole: Definitely. As soon as my little one is in school and I have some free time at home, I plan to get to work on a sequel. There are several characters in the book that I feel deserve a book of their own!

Erin: Yes, I agree, I’d love to revisit some of your characters. About the time thing….well, I said that same thing up until my now 6 year old went to school along with my other two. I think I am more busy now than then! But you’ll find the balance….though my book is slow in getting done. Someone always needs cookies, or help with a project, or….just about anything you could think of!

Erin: I notice you also have a Journalism degree like myself, so I always like to ask this question of all the journalists turned novelists I encounter. How does being a journalist help in writing fiction? Was the transition difficult, what made it challenging?

Nicole: I think initially, it was difficult switching out of “reporter” mode and allowing myself the freedom to find my own artistic style. That being said, the training that comes along with being a journalist was incredibly helpful in terms of knowing how to go about researching and fact checking, which are really important when writing historical fiction.

Erin: Completely agree.

Erin: And now a fun question, if you could travel anywhere in the world within the next five years, where would it be and why?

Nicole: I have been dreaming of visiting the ancient ruins of Petra in Jordan. Dating back as far as the 4th century BCE, this UNESCO World Heritage spot is #1 on my list. This is one of those instances where pictures speak louder than words…. (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/petra-jordan-photos/)

Erin: I think we have a lot in common!! I’ve wanted to go here ever since I saw the print edition about it!! We’d love to take my two oldest kids back to Egypt to see their roots and go here and Turkey as well. Yet, wish the economic and political climate were different to be able to do so.

Erin: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

Nicole: I can be contacted through my website, http://www.nicoledweck.com or through Goodreads. I love hearing from readers and respond to every email I receive.

Erin: Where should readers purchase or look for The Debt of Tamar?

Nicole: The Debt of Tamar is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Smashwords, and the Itunes store. For readers in India, it is also available through Flipkart and Amazon India.

Erin: It was my pleasure to have you here, Nicole. We seem to have much in common. I wish you much future success and please stop back by anytime. I look forward to your future work! Thank you!

Nicole: Loved chatting with you, Erin. I hope to reconnect and talk books with you again soon. Thank you!

The Debt of TamarThe Debt of Tamar, Synopsis~

Publication Date: February 4, 2013
Devon House Press
Paperback; 332p
ISBN-10: 061558361X

During the second half of the 16th century, a wealthy widow by the name of Doña Antonia Nissim is arrested and charged with being a secret Jew. The punishment? Death by burning. Enter Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman “Schindler,” and the most celebrated sultan in all of Turkish history. With the help of the Sultan, the widow and her children manage their escape to Istanbul. Life is seemingly idyllic for the family in their new home, that is, until the Sultan’s son meets and falls in love with Tamar, Doña Antonia’s beautiful and free-spirited granddaughter. A quiet love affair ensues until one day, the girl vanishes.

Over four centuries later, thirty-two year old Selim Osman, a playboy prince with a thriving real estate empire, is suddenly diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Abandoning the mother of his unborn child, he vanishes from Istanbul without an explanation. In a Manhattan hospital, he meets Hannah, a talented artist and the daughter of a French Holocaust survivor. As their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, readers are taken back to Nazi-occupied Paris, and to a sea-side village in the Holy Land where a world of secrets is illuminated.

Theirs is a love that has been dormant for centuries, spanning continents, generations, oceans, and religions. Bound by a debt that has lingered through time, they must right the wrongs of the past if they’re ever to break the shackles of their future.

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
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Author Nicole Dweck, Biography~

Nicole DweckNicole Dweck is a writer whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country.

As a descendant of Sephardic (Spanish) refugees who escaped the Inquisition and settled on Ottoman territory, Dweck has always been interested in Sephardic history and the plight of refugees during the Spanish Inquisition. The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was a two-time finalist in the UK’s Cinnamon Press Novel Award Competition. It has also received an honorable award mention in the category of Mainstream/Literary Fiction from Writers Digest and was the highest rated book for two weeks running on the Harper Collin’s “Authonomy” website. It has claimed a #1 Bestseller spot in the Amazon Kindle Middle East Fiction category, a #1 Bestseller spot in Amazon Kindle Jewish Fiction category, and has been included as one of the “Hot 100″ Kindle bestsellers in the category of Historical Fiction.

Dweck holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Global Studies with a focus on Middle East Affairs (NYU) . Her non-fiction articles have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including The New York Observer and Haute Living Magazine.

She lives in New York City with her husband and son.

For more information visit Nicole’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Link to Tour Page: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thedebtoftamartour

Tour Hashtag: #DebtofTamarVirtualTour

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Filed under Q and A with Authors

Mary Lancaster Talks about Vlad Dracula: Her Improbable Hero!

Today Mary Lancaster, author of A Prince to be Feared about the real historical Vlad Dracula, joins the site today for a guest post about her character and her book. Yesterday, I gave a great review for A Prince to be Feared and you can read that HERE.  Keep reading for the guest post!

A Prince to be Feared

Be sure to enter to win a ebook copy of A Prince to be Feared at the end! Enjoy!

Vlad the Impaler – Improbable Hero!

By Mary Lancaster,Author of A Prince to be Feared

If you’re anything like me, you prefer a hero who isn’t too perfect. A troubled, even a flawed man can be so much more interesting, not to say more believable. However, you might also think that choosing the legendary Vlad Dracula the Impaler, as the hero of my novel, is carrying the anti-hero concept too far! After all, surely the reader has to like him to some degree.

Well, to be honest, when I started out I didn’t really mean Vlad to be my hero. I was just vaguely toying with the idea of a book in which he showed a different side of his character from the blood thirsty monster of legend. I was struck by the contrast between that side of him and the side that was credited with manners, learning, justice and military courage, qualities which made him a hero to his own Romanian people, and the friend of men with far purer reputations. I never really intended to dispute the atrocities. In fact, when I first started reading up on him, I was so sickened that I shut the book I was reading and forgot about the project for several months.

However, since it was a fascinating period of history, I ended up returning to Vlad. And it slowly dawned on me that something didn’t ring true. Not just the sheer number of atrocities he’s accused of but…  Why should a ruler who made continuous efforts to improve the safety and prosperity of his country, even clearing swathes of unusable forest land to allow more arable farming, deliberately and systematically set about ruining his economy and security by impaling half his population on whims?


Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_the_Impaler

I dug a little deeper, and found that despite the continual dynastic conflicts which plagued the principality of Wallachia, Vlad retained the loyalty of a considerable proportion of his nobility, even after he was safely deposed by the Sultan and imprisoned by the Hungarians. No one assassinated him during the years he ruled, not even at the end of his second, main reign, when he must have been an easy target. So I began to wonder if the atrocity tales weren’t just exaggerated but largely untrue. A case of Chinese whispers that got out of hand? Maybe, but the destruction of his reputation was so thorough, that I suspect there had to be more behind it than the ageless human love of salacious and gory details. It had to be the deliberate policy of powerful forces. When I looked at his story from this point of view, it seemed very different. And I think the true villain is fairly obvious!

And so, A Prince to be Feared began to form in my brain. My Dracula is not a perfect or a gentle man. He’s a gifted soldier, proud, arrogant, ambitious, and, like all his contemporaries, he can be brutal in pursuit of his own ends. I seriously doubt he was any crueler than his fellow rulers of the region, and I believe he had considerably more vision and honour than many of them. I think he fostered a fearsome reputation as a tool of government, and that his enemies used that against him when they needed to.

However, I don’t want to reveal my entire theory here :). I’d like you to read A Prince to be Feared and imagine the same Dracula I do: a hard, even a frightening man of profound loyalty and enduring love.


The giveaway is for one (1) eBook (PDF, mobi or ePub) of A Prince to be Feared and is open internationally.  Enter to win by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post.

Write a comment below the post, under any link about book on Facebook, or on the Hook of a Book Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook. +1 extra entry for following my blog and +2 for “liking” my Hook of a Book  Facebook page.


A Prince to be FearedPublication Date: May 7, 2013
eBook; 343p

Europe’s most fearsome prisoner, Vlad Dracula, gifted military commander and one time Prince of Wallachia, the notorious Lord Impaler himself, is about to be released after twelve long years, in order to hold back the tide of Ottoman aggression. The price of his new alliance with his Hungarian captors is the king’s cousin Ilona.

Ilona does not wish to be married. In particular, she doesn’t wish to marry Vlad. Gentle, faded and impossibly vague, Ilona is hardly fit for court life, let alone for dealing with so difficult a husband.

But Ilona’s wishes have nothing to do with Vlad’s reputation and everything to do with a lifelong love affair that finally broke her. Ilona’s family blame Vlad; Vlad vows to discover the truth and sets out by unconventional means to bring back the woman who once enchanted him. Among court intrigues, international manoeuvrings and political deceptions, Vlad reveals himself more victim than villain. But he’s still more than capable of reclaiming his lost rights to both Wallachia and Ilona; and Ilona, when it counts, has enough strength for them both.

Author Mary Lancaster, Biography~

Mary LancasterMary Lancaster’s first love was historical fiction. Since then she has grown to love coffee, chocolate, red wine and black and white films – simultaneously where possible. She hates housework.

As a direct consequence of the first love, she studied history at St. Andrews University, after which she worked variously as editorial assistant, researcher and librarian. Although she has always written stories for her own entertainment, she began to make serious efforts toward publication in order to distract herself from a job she disliked. She now writes full time at her seaside home in Scotland, which she shares with her husband and three children.

Mary is the author of three historical novels: An Endless Exile – the story of Hereward, 11th century outlaw hero, A World to Win – a Scottish governess finds love in revolutionary Hungary and A Prince to be Feared: the love story of Vlad Dracula.

You can find more information on Mary Lancaster and her novels at her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/aprincetobefearedvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #PrinceToBeFearedTour

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