— One —
Talikan, Spring, 1323
Concubines had been a feature of life in Cambaluc, too. Johanna’s own grandmother had been concubine to the great Kublai Khan before being given in marriage to her grandfather, the honored Marco Polo. It was natural for men of power and wealth to accumulate women much as they did other possessions, as a way of measuring themselves against their peers and as a means of demonstrating their elevated status in society. More women also meant more heirs of the body, although Johanna, familiar with the stories of internecine warfare among the descendants of the Great Khan, wondered what any man needed with that many sons. Too many heirs only guaranteed long and extremely bloody fights over who would one day occupy the throne. Those fights inevitably spiraled out from court to city to countryside, and never ended well for the innocent bystander. Johanna’s own grandmother had died in prison after one such dynastic disturbance.
But in Cambaluc, concubines could walk the streets unveiled, could shop in the markets, could visit their friends and relatives, could attend the horse races and bet on the outcome. They traveled, with personal guards of course, the number according to their consequence, but one saw them everywhere, Chinese and Mongol alike. The Mongol concubines could even own and ride their own horses. Here in Talikan, under the absolute rule of Sheik Mohammed, the only time the concubines left the harem was when the sheik called for their presence in his rooms for the evening.
With one exception.
And for those of you who like their books in print…
I’ll be signing the trade paperback edition of By the Shores of the Middle Sea, live! and in person! at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale on Saturday, November 29th, at 2pm.
Everything Under the Heavens now on sale!
Of course because I love you, but mostly because I’m determined to seduce all of you die-hard “I only read Kate books and when is the next one coming out” fans, upon publication of By the Shores of the Middle Sea the price of the first Silk and Song Book, Everything Under the Heavens, drops to $4.99.
Download and rejoice!