Published October 01, 2013

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

  • by Dmitry Chen

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas
  • Translated by Liv Bliss
  • 368 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-940585-00-0
  • $18
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The Hawk has landed! 

In the heart of the world, where three empires collide, Nanidat Maniakh, a dashing trader, is enjoying the good life as head of a powerful silk dynasty, when suddenly his world is torn asunder by murder and revolution. Everything he knows is turned upside-down, and the able young merchant must become a cunning warrior and spy – eluding assassins, negotiating with kings, and leading mercenaries into battle, all while unraveling a mystery about a long lost love.

This thrilling and rich historical thriller — set in 749 C.E. in the part of the world we now know as Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and conflicts are entirely relevant to the present day. In fact, the historic battles and events in this novel are at the root of most of today’s conflicts in the Middle East.

Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is not only a powerful work of historical fiction, it is also an uncannily timely look at the root causes of recent revolutions and warfare. 

Book 1 in the Silk Road Trilogy

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Professional Reviews

“In Dmitry Chen's The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas – set in a time of seismic dynastic change in the story of Islam – exotic world of old is brought back to fevered life with plot twists aplenty in a drama as lethal as a jeweled assassin’s knife.”

– Benson Bobrick, author of 
The Caliph’s Splendor: Islam and the West 
in the Golden Age of Baghdad


“If chain mail, hawks, assassins and camels are your thing, then you’re likely to enjoy The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas. It is a professionally-executed member of the genre, fluently translated and set in a part of the world, ’twixt China and the Holy Land, of now largely vanished glories that is little written about.”

– Peter Gordon, Asian Review of Books

Reader Reviews

"This tale of murder and intrigue transports you back to a time and place that is scarcely imaginable to contemporary urbanites but comes alive so vividly in these pages. Liv Bliss renders the original Russian in such beautiful English that you'll never know you're reading a translation: Her delightful turns of phrase and evocative storytelling are one of the books main selling points."

– Michael Schubert


“This was a full, complete, challenging and enjoyable novel to read. I daresay I learned more about the truth of the times through this fiction than I have learned about this area of the world through modern day reporting or history books. 4 stars out of 5.”

– Graeme Waymark

“The translation is superb—so fluid you would swear the book was first written in English. The setting is unusual and interesting, the plot action-packed.”

– C.P. Lesley

Reviews of the Original Russian Novel

"You have no idea yet what you are about to read. You cannot imagine yet the pleasure to be had from the gentle surging of those intricate Eastern turns of phrase, seasoned as they are with a splendid knowledge, and mastery, of the source material... It has been a long time since I happened upon a text that not only comes to you visually but seems to tickle the other senses too, with the aroma of meat being roasted with savory Eastern spices in the courtyard of a caravanserai, the light rustling of ethereal silk sliding from a maiden’s tender shoulders aglow with love and passion, the thrumming of an arrow in flight, the glancing glint of a blade as it strikes a death blow. All of that you will find in this remarkable narrative."

Moskovsky Komsomolets


"Pet Hawk is set in 749 to 751 C.E. And although that is almost 1260 years ago, there is nothing alien or incomprehensible about the world that its heroes inhabit. And that, of course, is because the book tells of the simple and the eternal – of life and death, of friendship and enmity, of war and peace. In his afterword, Chen emphasizes that he would not especially fault anyone who sees in it analogies with the present day and the not too distant past."

Moskovskaya pravda


"The thing that moves both the novel’s plot and history as told by Chen is not their entertainment value but a good dose of curiosity. His Sogdian wants to know what is going on and why, and for that he puts his life at risk time and again. But he is never bored. And, for that matter, neither are we."

Sakvoyazh SV


"The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is not only a best-selling tale of action and adventure, but also a surprisingly poetic book, and in that unexpected coupling of poetry and hard-bitten thriller lies all its charm. Chen's books are of course easy to read, but they are also irreproachably historically accurate and literally bursting at the seams with offbeat and often eye-opening information that will be news even to Russia's most erudite and cultivated readers. And in that sense, this novel has a noble role to play in the dialogue of civilizations."



"Chen’s books send a message, loud and clear, that even in a wide-open world there are and always have been captivatingly interesting, unknown worlds and civilizations, other little cogs in the tower clock of human history."

Novaya Gazeta

About the Author

DMITRY CHEN is a pen name – in the honored tradition stretching from Orwell to Le Carre to Bachman – for a Russian author who has been observing and writing about Asia for more than 30 years. He has published seven novels (and some short stories), mostly spy thrillers, some of them positively medieval. His Silk Road Trilogy was immensely popular in Russia and earned him a reputation as the most foreign writer in contemporary Russian literature.


About the Translator

LIV BLISS began her translation career in Moscow, with Progress Publishers and Novosti Press Agency, in the late 1970s and has been a happy freelance translator, editor, and language consultant ever since. She has an American Translators Association certification in Russian to English translation, and is on the editorial board of SlavFile, the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division newsletter. She lives in the White Mountains of Arizona with her husband, Jim, and an assortment of far wilder creatures. Her translation of Godsdoom; the Book of Hagen, by Nick Perumov, was published by Zumaya Publications in 2007.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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