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Before the Silk Road had a name, nomads roamed the Asian steppes and women fought side by side as equals with men.
Like all women of the Sauromatae, Akmaral is bound for battle from birth, training as a girl in horsemanship, archery, spear, and blade. Her prowess ignites the jealousy of Erzhan, a gifted warrior who hates her as much as he desires her. When Scythian renegades attack, the two must unite to defeat them. Among their captives is Timor, the rebels’ enigmatic leader who refuses to be broken, even as he is enslaved. He fascinates Akmaral. But as attraction grows to passion, she is blinded to the dangerous alliance forming between the men who bristle against the clan’s matriarchal rule. Faced with brutal betrayal, Akmaral must find the strength to defend her people and fulfill her destiny.
Drawn from legends of Amazon women warriors from ancient Greece and recent archaeological discoveries in Central Asia, Akmaral is a sweeping tale about a powerful woman who must make peace with making war.
Praise for Akmaral
"In Akmaral, Judith Lindbergh draws a portrait of a fierce, headstrong, yet vulnerable female warrior who lives on the Central Asian steppes in the 5th century BCE. An orphan, descended from Amazons, Akmaral’s ascent to power is fraught with conflict both internal and external. Fans of Madeline Miller and Natalie Haynes will relish how Lindbergh weaves fact and fiction. Thoroughly imagined and vividly described, this novel is a gripping saga, a love story, and a convincing portrait of a time and people lost to history.”
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 bestselling author of Orphan Train and The Exiles
“Judith Lindbergh’s meticulously researched, deeply imagined Akmaral brings the joy and hardship of a nomad woman warrior to vibrant, often aching life. Set against the unfolding drama of an ancient warring tribe of the Asian steppes, the novel captures both the mystery of love and the majesty of the human spirit.”
—Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of Daughter of Black Lake and The Painted Girls
“Once there were female warriors more powerful than any man, with fierce wills and bodies strong as iron. Born in the ancient steppes of Asia where Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China now meet, Akmaral is the breathtaking story of a mesmerizing female warrior who is well-trained for battle but finds herself confronted and confounded by a man who is just as skilled and passionate. When young Akmaral falls in love with her proud Scythian captive, her role as protector of her clan becomes infinitely more complicated as she is forced to choose between kingdom, family, and her own heart. Akmaral delves deep into female power and confronts complex issues about womanhood, motherhood, and the sacrifices women make to protect those they love: issues as powerful today as they were in ancient times. If you love Madeline Miller’s Circe, you must read Akmaral. Lindbergh delivers a breath-taking story filled with vivid characters, haunted landscapes, powerful battle scenes, and a love story you will not soon forget.”
—Laurie Lico Albanese, award-winning author of Hester
“Judith Lindbergh’s magically immersive novel, Akmaral, unfolds among an ancient matriarchal tribe of nomads living on the Ukok Plateau, in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia. The story centers on the life of the anointed girl child, Akmaral, whose extraordinary bravery and fully realized humanity make her into a heroine on a par with the characters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Lindbergh combines her impressive gifts for research with an uncanny ability to evoke an exotic, remote, and meticulously imagined civilization from 2,400 years ago that nonetheless shimmers with authenticity in all its details. You will smell the sweat of the horses and feel the ache of a warrior who is also a mother and a lover. Akmaral transported me, night after page-turning night, to a world I would never have been able to experience otherwise, an unforgettable wind-swept world before the dawn of patriarchy.”
—Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi’s Virgins and What Disappears
“I was unable to put down this riveting, rugged journey of a young woman in an almost inconceivable world which vanished millenniums ago. Akmaral may be one of the most fascinating warriors in literature. She loves three things most: her beloved tribe with its relentless god, the silent captured enemy she takes into her life, and the child she bears him. But what if the stranger turns on her because she loves too much? Written with a wild poetry, the author brings to life a strong woman and her unforgettable story amid stark cliffs and green pastures, guided by a mystical exiled old woman and the ghost of her lost best friend. Akmaral is pure literary magic.”
—Stephanie Cowell, American Book Award recipient and author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet and The Boy in the Rain