Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

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9781847802538: Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
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The Shahnameh is a collection of stories and myths from ancient Iran, filled with kings, heroes, princesses, magical animals and demons. Written as an epic poem by the poet Ferdowsi in the 10th century, it is one of the great classics of Persian literature. The tales include the Simurgh, the giant bird who brings up an orphaned king in her nest on a craggy rock, wicked King Zahhak with his man-eating snakes, and above all the story of the great hero Rustam and his son Sohrab.Elizabeth Laird is passionate about bringing this great epic poem to the children of western cultures, as well as retelling it for Iranian children living in the West.

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Laird is the author of Red Sky in the Morning, The Garbage King, Crusade and Lost Riders. She has been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal. She has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, and her son lived for four years in Iran. She met her husband while travelling in India and they lived together in Iraq, Lebanon and Austria. Her other books for Frances Lincoln are A Fistful of Pearls: Stories from Iraq, Pea Boy, and The Ogress and the Snake: Stories from Ethiopia. Laird divides her time between London and Edinburgh.Shirin Adl was born in Harlow, England, in 1975. She received a first class BA honours in illustration from Loughborough University, and won the Hallmark M&S division Talented Designer Award. She currently lives in Oxford with her husband.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Kaveh, the Courageous Blacksmith

Zahhak sat hunched on his ivory throne, with his crown of turquoise
pressing down on his head, brooding about Feridun, while the snakes
writhed on his shoulders.
I must be protected,” he thought. I must gather armies of men,
with demons and angels in the ranks, to save me from this boy.”
One day, as he sat scowling in his audience hall, there was a commotion
at the door of the palace.
I want justice!” a man was shouting. I demand to see the king!”
Who is it? Who’s there?” asked Zahhak fearfully.
A furious man entered the audience chamber, beating his head with
his hands. I am Kaveh, the blacksmith,” he called out in his deep voice.
And you, O king, are an evil tyrant! Eighteen sons I had, good men all
of them. Seventeen have been sacrificed to feed your loathsome snakes,
and now the last, my youngest, waits for death. What have I done to
deserve this? Let my last son go! You owe me this, at least.”
Zahhak listened, frightened and astonished. Then he smiled a false
smile.
You will see what a good and noble king I am,” he said. Your
son is free to go. But first sign this document, which my elders have
prepared, telling the world how merciful I am.”
The sight of the document made Kaveh more furious than ever.
Give that thing to me,” he bellowed. I’ll show you how I’ll sign it!”
He snatched the document from Zahhak’s hands, and tore it in two.
The king’s servants and courtiers stared in wonder as Kaveh strode
away to rescue his imprisoned son.
Why did you let him go, sire?” they asked Zahhak. No one has
ever dared to speak to you like that before.”
Zahhak shook his head, puzzled. When he entered my hall,” he said,
I seemed to see a mountain of iron rise up between us, and when he
beat his hands against his head, I felt that my own heart was bruised.”
24 25
27
The blacksmith’s son leaps from the tyrant’s cage
And the streets echo to his cries of rage,
While on the throne the serpents writhe and hiss.
Threatening Zahhak with their deadly kiss.
Outside the palace, a crowd gathered around the blacksmith and his son.
Kaveh ripped off the leather apron which he wore when working in his
forge, and fixed it to a lance to make a banner.
Men of honour!” he cried. Follow me! We’ll go to Feridun. He’ll
deliver us from the tyrant Zahhak!”
A cheer went up. The people flocked to Kaveh’s leather banner. They
followed him all the way to Feridun’s palace, and when the young hero
came out to greet them, they raised a deafening shout.
You are the man to lead us!” they cried. You’ll be our king!”
Feridun took the leather apron and decorated it with cloth of gold
and sparkling jewels. On the tip of Kaveh’s lance, he placed a moonwhite
globe. This will be my royal banner,” he declared.
A humble apron, with its leather string,
Is now the sign and symbol of a king.

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