[Mara, the Christian Sultana]
This historical novel by George Leonardos probes life in the medieval Balkans through the prism of the excitement and dynamism of a personal history.
The basis for this captivating account of a most turbulent era is the life of Mara Vrankovic-Komnenou, daughter of the Despot of Serbia, wife of Sultan Murat II, honored stepmother of Mohamed II the Conqueror. She was the same woman who nearly became wife of Konstantine Paleologos, the last emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
In the pages of this novel return the civil conflicts, the tender yet equally violent romances, the bloodied wars, the shocking massacres and genocides along with the dark conspiracies and the insatiable struggles for power. These were the factors that set the future course for this southern corner of Europe during the best part of the decisive 15th century.
The mistaken strategies followed by the rulers that led to violent uprooting of the unsuspecting population amplified by fanaticism, primarily racial and religious, bore national tragedies that can be read as an allegory to the events that continue to plague the southern Balkans to date.