Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Scorpions of Zahir and Pilgrimages

I love me a good adventure story.  Add a precocious girl protagonist and that usually makes it better (though I've read the occasional exception wherein I dropped my head in frustration at the utter nauseating perfection of some tailored characters. *sigh*). So far it's only a gut feeling, but I wager that The Scorpions of Zahir, by Christine Brodien-Jones, will not disappoint. I've only just begun this harrowing adventure of a young girl and her family on a suddenly-thrust-upon-them-by-a-flourish-of-fate quest to find and save a sacred lost city in the deserts of Morocco. Still, it leads me to ponder over the answers for many questions: How will the author choose to depict Morocco, its people, its culture? Will the girl, Zagora, begin as a tomboy and "blossom" into something more, or will her inherent qualities be good enough to last? Race, gender, and storytelling. Fun stuff!

In considering this novel as my next adventure, I stumbled upon the author's blog itself: Owl Tracks, and with rapid interest read the a post detailing her inspirations for writing The Scorpions of Zahir. In it, Brodien-Jones reminisces about her own journey to Morocco with her family, a voyage that may have lacked tribal myths and extinct supernatural animals but was rich with culture, indelible experiences and most likely sensational food. And so it seems that great tales are born from equally magnificent life experiences.

Brodien-Jones' last post, from September, explained that she and her husband were about to embark on their next epic journey:

Peter and I are flying to Madrid to hike 500 miles across northern Spain, following an ancient pilgrim’s path known as the Camino de Santiago. Carrying a small backpack each, we’ll set out from the medieval town of Roncevalles, in the Pyrenees, and head for the fabled Galician city of Santiago de Compostela.
This pushed me to reflect on my own flights of fancy, my own desired treks to pursue and paths to carve out. What epic journey would I make, what thread would I follow to lead me to a sense of peace and gratitude, and inspire my projects onward? Currently, Hajj is being performed in Saudi Arabia, millions of Muslims from around the world embarking on the annual humbling tradition of remembrance and spiritual awakening. This is of course one pilgrimage I hope to make eventually; certainly the one that would signify the purest sense of being for me. But there are many adventures lying in wait, many ancient and not-so-ancient civilizations that exist out of time and can be found on trails throughout the world. Where would you go? What are you seeking? (Maybe this will help)

For now, I find refuge in Zagora's quest and others waiting to unfold in my hands, until the time comes that they unfold in my path.

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