Calaf and Ishmael are two friends thrust into a world of clashing empires in third century CE Rome and Persia. Growing up in the court of the brutal Kushan emperor Timur, Calaf is Timur’s son and heir, and Ishmael is the son of Timur's scribe. They are inseparable, with ties of love and devotion that stretch back to births days apart and shrouded in mystery.
When Calaf nearly dies saving Ishmael, his father is furious that the prince would risk his life for a servant, and does all that he can to separate the friends. The fall of Timur’s empire flings the two young men across the ancient world, and they must struggle against deceit, betrayal, and cruelty to find each other again.
After enduring years of separation and adversity, they reunite and face one last trial in the court of the merciless Princess Turandot. Calaf must choose. Reclaim his father's throne or condemn Ishmael to certain death.
This historical tale, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, affirms that great loss can only be redeemed by love willing to sacrifice all.
This story will interest listeners who love the intense historical drama of this period as it is portrayed in the Warrior of Rome novels of Harry Sidebottom, and the kind of inventive, boundary-pushing reimagining of classic tales found in Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Mary Renault's The Persian Boy.
With a deep cast of characters and carefully crafted plot set in a vivid and unforgiving world, Calaf and Ishmael is a tragic love story that will appeal to listeners who look to historical fiction to reflect times and places as vibrant and challenging as our own.