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Zenobia and her mare Bethany

Reviews for Zenobia - Birth of a Legend


Review by ~ LinDee Rochelle -Penchant for Penning ~ 10/01/11

Zenobia was beautiful, intelligent, and powerful. And she was real. Russ Wallace's Zenobia: Birth of a Legend, Book 1, is a rich coming-of-age saga based on true events that transport you back in time to the desert of ancient Syria, 250 CE. It chronicles what is known of the Syrian queen's youth, wrapped in imaginative tales of the vibrant life she might have led. To protect her life, Zenobia's gender was hidden until her ninth year. She understood the need for deception, but once exposed, the dynamic girl persuaded their male-dominated tribe to fulfill her dream, training her to become a cunning warrior. The new twist of discovery in Zenobia's life offered the best of both worlds, creating a budding womanly warrior few men could resist. I love reading historical novels and this one is particularly interesting. Having traveled through the Middle East, which was once part of Zenobia's landscape, I easily visualized the ancient events Wallace depicts. Aptly blending fact and fiction is a tricky art, but he cleverly mixes education, history, political and religious theories, action and adventure, with a young girl's emotional discoveries. Zenobia's allure will attract more than today's young adults, who will identify with the girl though they are millennia apart. Her thirst for knowledge and penchant for righteousness, and Wallace's historical acumen in satisfying them, will be a magnet for political aficionados and military tacticians. Like for me, she will resonate too, with women who admire the empowerment Zenobia embodies as she battles injustices. Well-written and imaginative, fast-paced and exciting, this is a book that will fascinate and charm. I not only identify with Zenobia's passion and staunch support of equality, but enjoy the personality Wallace infused into this exceptional ruler. With every page you will marvel at the intricate details of thought expressed by his characters, and wonder with him at how little we have learned as a society, through the ages. Woven in the fascinating narrative of Zenobia, Russ Wallace features the humanity of history and sometimes lack of it acquainting us with a remarkable time in ancient cultures. Much like today, country borders and even whole countries appeared and disappeared in the earth s blink of an eye. And as now, world-changing events were largely due to the dynamic politics and warring strategies of those who ruled the most powerful countries Zenobia was such a leader. Book 1 is a great beginning.



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ByJulie on March 16, 2012


Just like Katniss in The Hunger Games you can't help root for the strong-willed girl

Based in Roman times, the story starts with Zenobia's birth. Her mother wisely hides her gender to save her life. The desert tribe leader, Zenobia's father feels he has enough girls to trade with other tribes, plus they are low on food. Zenobia is raised as a boy, giving her the training and skills to become a great warrior. When her true gender is revealed the leaders of the tribe are impressed with Zenobia's archery skills and intelligence they let her live. This novel follows Zenobia's life in her early informative years. Her fast reflexes with her bow and arrow save her life from a tiger attack. When she competes against other skilled men in an archery competition, they are surprised that a girl can hit her target with such ease. As she grows into a beautiful woman, a budding romance with a local tribe boy develops. Her mother, like any other mother has much higher expectation for her daughter. She takes Zenobia to Egypt to broaden her mind with many thought provoking classes. Zenobia is drawn to another male dominated competition but this time in a horse race. She's up against those who would do anything to prevent her from finishing the race. It's a nail biting race to the end.
What's great about this story, you're getting a history lesson and you don't even know it. I'm amazed that I haven't heard about her before now. I can't wait until book two, as this story is only the start of an amazing life that Zenobia will lead.



ByJoyce on October 13, 2014


The kind of book that makes you want to learn more!

I very much enjoyed this book. I found Zenobia a highly sympathetic character that I wanted to keep reading and finding out more about. I love reading about ancient history, and "Zenobia", by Russ Wallace had me so intrigued with various historical threads that I kept pausing in my reading to zip over to Wikipedia (thank you, iPad!) to read more about the great library at Alexandria (including a list of ancient head librarians and an ancient cataloguing system that was not fully replaced until the 19th century Dewey Decimal System), the legends about Nimrod (which in turn led me to the fascinating legends about additional sons of the Biblical Noah, including the Greek Titans...who knew? LOL), etc. I felt my knowledge, as well as my enjoyment, vastly expanded by the time I reached the end. Which is not really the end, as this is the first in a series covering the life of this historical figure, Zenobia



BySteven Weston on November 10, 2011

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

Very entertaining, looking forward to her next adventure

With new authors, I am always apprehensive. My usual reading is spying and conspiracy against world governments. I was told to try this book by a close friend. I must say, to my surprise I really enjoyed it. First, the description of the characters was such that it took little imagination to visualize them. Because of that I was sucked into the story. Zenobia as well as other main characters were believable and the storyline was very entertaining. I hated to see the pages coming to a close since the story is yet far from over. I can't wait to see what is in store for Zenobia as she grows in life experience and wisdom. Please continue writing the rest of the story............



Goodreads reviews



This is a great story with interesting characters and interesting events. I enjoyed everything I learned from it and I enjoyed the characters. I would recommend it especially if you love the ancient world. 


Bethany Swafford

Based on the real life historical figure, this book is the first in the chronicles of the early life of Zenobia. Saved from being killed as a baby for being female by her clever mother, Zenobia’s life is almost too fantastic to be true. She is determined to learn all she can and to train like the men to be as great as she can be. She is a strong girl with enough determination and bravery to match twenty people.
Richly detailed and shining with brilliant research, this is a treasure for anyone who loves strong women and history.

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