Entries by M.A. Guglielmo

Dancing Girls

Lovely painting of Persian women’s clothing of the 17th century, seen on beautiful young dancers.

Rise and Fall of the Assassins

As persecuted followers of an offshoot of Shia Islam, the medieval Nizari Ismailis
 of Persia and Syria developed a unique form of asymmetric warfare to offset the far superior military might of their enemies: a secret order of political killers known as the fidai. The Fidai were young men prepared to spend years learning new languages and […]

“Destroyer of Thousands”: The Mace as Weapon and Symbol of Power

The mace as a war weapon evolved from primitive clubs, when the addition of stone spikes added to its effectiveness. Stone maces often shattered, however, limiting their value as weapons. With the development of copper or bronze heads, the mace became a powerful weapon of war, as well as a symbol of authority and justice. An important […]

The Emerald Studded Sword of Ancient Persia

Shamshir-e Zomorrodnegar, the emerald-studded sword, is mentioned in the Persian epic of Amir Arsalan. In the story, Fulad-zereh, a giant horned Ifrit, is led astray from his duties as head general to the King of the Peri by his fondness for beautiful women. In love with the queen, he takes advantage of the King’s death to […]

Persian Demonology

Demons in the Persian tradition go by many names, such as Div and Daeva, and are a class of supernatural creatures associated with wickedness and deceit. In some texts, the land of the Div is known as Mazandaran, not to be confused the present-day province in contemporary Iran. Being the devilish creatures that they are, the Div […]

Review of “Hearts Before Diamonds” by Bryan Fields

A rollicking tale of adventure and love set in an alternate steampunk Asia, “Hearts Before Diamonds” is a short story revolving around Edward Wallace, an American expat in India who works as a ‘problem solver’ for a fee. When Timir, a new client hoping to thwart the arranged marriage of his beloved arrives, Wallace sets out […]

Review of “Desert of Souls” by Howard Andrew Jones

A wonderful sword and sorcery tale set in medieval Baghdad, “The Desert of Souls” is close to historical fiction in its beautiful detail about everyday life in the Islamic golden age. The action is fast-paced and gripping. The historical notes about 8th Century Baghdad life are amazing, but the author succeeds in slipping in all […]

Persian Dragons

Dragons in the Persian tradition differ from both the Western conception of an evil, flying monster breathing fire and the Far Eastern image of a powerful but often benevolent creature resembling a giant snake. Although Persian dragons more closely resemble Chinese dragons in description, they are usually seen as malevolent, and possessing both human intellect […]

A Bureaucracy of Magic: A Review of The Bartimaeus Trilogy

Jonathan Stroud’s ‘trilogy’, featuring the wise-cracking djinni Bartimaeus, is actually four books, counting the prequel “Solomon’s Ring”. A YA series, the books detail the development of a young boy, Nathaniel, who is taken from his parents to train as a magician in an alternate history where the British Empire continues to keep the American colonies under its […]