Lion Rock and Its Frescoes

Highlighting Historical Fiction: Mike Lord

Today we have something a little different. Mike Lord’s Sinagiri is set in fifth century, and involves some remarkable frescoes discovered at Sigiriya (or Lion Rock), an ancient rock fortress and palace complex. Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, has a lurid history and a lot of which was unknown until the discovery of the Mahawansa, a fifth century chronicle of the kings of Sri Lanka, and an very early Buddhist text.

Sigiriya1js-1024x674 Guest Author

Sigiriya, Photo by By Bernard Gagnon ( [GFDL (or CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

CW: Why do you write historical novels?

ML:  When I’ve been reading the history of that period, I suddenly notice that there must have been some romance, love and even passion, but that is rarely recorded by the historians at that time.

CW: What is your favorite historical period and why?

ML:  Sinagiri is actually 6th Century, but I prefer the 17th and 18th Centuries as there is usually more recorded information.

CW: Did you base your characters on real people?

ML:  No, I include some real people, historical figures that is, but I introduce fictional characters, like commentators, who can add a bit of spice the story.

CW: What is your favorite scene in this book?

ML: The scene in which Abebech was taken to the Hall of Mirrors to see the paintings, and was amazed at what she saw, and of course, wanted to be included as she was. Several years later she was painted when she was more mature.

CW: What, aside from writing, do you like to do best?

ML:  I like gardening, and try to grow flowers with fragrance.

CW: Can you describe some research you did while writing your story?

I was working in Sri Lanka in the 1990s and managed to get a copy of the book, and I also visited the site at Singiriya several times. Every time I went to Singiriya, as it is now called, everyone asked one another “Who were the ladies painted in the frescoes?”

A Character Sketch

Abebech was a tall dark girl from Eritrea who in the 6th Century had been arranged to marry the Rajah of Taprobane. The marriage arrangement was made when she was only 4, and twelve years later she travelled to the island, taking her elder brother with her as an escort. It is interesting that the renowned cleric Prestor John was a part of her father’s cabinet in Eritrea at that time.

Sinagiri-Cover-2-212x300 Guest Author About the Book

A princess from Eritrea becomes the fourth wife of the Raja of Taprobane. The story relates her journey by land and sea, escorted by her brother, from Assaba to Puttulam, and their adventures on the way, even being attacked by pirates! The story continues with her marriage, and her life in the rock fortress of Sinagiri, meaning Lion Rock (nowadays called Singirya).
But, nobody had told her of the mysterious death of the former Raja, or the strange recluse like life that the present Raja, his son, had taken to. From her friends she learned of the younger brothers pledge to take revenge on his brother, and raise an army in India, which he eventually did. Her marriage to the Raja is somewhat of a sham, and she starts an affair with the son of the historian, who had started to write the Mahawansa. When the Raja is killed in battle by the avenging younger brother, following the discovery of the body of the old Raja, her life changes and she moves from the rock fortress to Anuradhapura, the former capital.
The story is based on historical fact. Battles, buildings and recorded events are set out factually (although the pirates are my imagination). There was a Raja Kasyapu, who killed his father, and then in remorse became a recluse. He was, in fact, killed several years later by his younger brother after the body of the old Raja was found encased (alive) in plaster in the wall of the old palace. Whilst at the rock fortress about 500 court ladies had their portraits painted in a cave on the rock face, and a few still exist today.

Buy Links:  Smashwords   Amazon

About the AuthorMike2000-198x300 Guest Author

Mike Lord was born in London within the sound of Bow Bells, just as the WW2 was about to explode. He was evacuated to the country as a small boy and then was brought up in Berkshire. His family moved to various places, including three years in Singapore from 1949, which had a curious effect on his later life. Mike has spent the vast majority of his working life in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and now lives and works in Vietnam.

Mike became a consultant by accident when a local work colleague in Lagos asked him to visit his upcountry pig farm. The pigs had partially lost the use of their back legs and Mike remembered reading an article, probably in the New Scientist, about the effect of a vitamin deficiency in pigs. He advised his colleague to feed his pigs on the papaya fruit which grew plentifully around the pig farm, and some vitamin supplements and the pigs recovered. The colleague, who became a lifelong friend, spread the news of Mike’s diagnosis and demands for his services abounded, in particular among the military governors in various states in Nigeria at that time.

Mike likes to read the history of the various countries in which he is working, and particularly in Asia. He discovered, for instance, that the Pashto language of Yusufrai Pathans, in the Swat valley in the North West Frontier province in Pakistan, was first translated into English by a medical officer in the British Army in Afghanistan in the late 19th century, and that in Ceylon the Mahawansa was discovered by a British colonial officer, who was stationed in a provincial town in the early 20th century. The Mahawansa contains a great deal of the written history, not just for Sri Lanka but also for a large part of northern India, and a great deal of mythology from the sub-continent.

Mike has lived and worked in Vietnam since 1997, where he lives in a provincial city with his wife, and has constant stream of visitors from the families of their seven adult children. Last year he completed an historical novel featuring the beautiful wife of the 18th century Emperor Quang Trung, who is still revered all over Vietnam.

Oh yes, Mike has just discovered where angels come from – seven year old granddaughters.

Find Mike:
Twitter:  @Lordmaity


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Info

Caroline Warfield, Author

Email :