Have you ever been to see the Lion Rock?
Go to Sri Lanka now, and travel straight to Singiriya, as its called today.
This novel is set around the final decade of the fifth century in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, as it is known today.
In those days the island was known as Taprobane, and later as Serendipia (from the word serendipity), and later still as Ceylon.
There actually was a King, or Raja, called Kasyapu, who built at that time a fortress palace at a place known today as Sigiriya. The ruins still exist and visitors can climb up the rock and see painted on the rock face the portraits of several beautiful ladies who lived at that time. One such portrait is of a dark skinned lady who in this book I called have Abebech. That and the rest is my imagination, although I do try to follow the official history as closely as possible.
If you, the reader, ever get a chance to visit Sri Lanka please make a point to travel to the north west of the island and visit Sigiriya. It is not too far from Anuradhapura. In the early morning make your way up steps cut in the rock, along corridors cut into the rock face, and finally up a rickety steel spiral staircase, that was added centuries later. There you will see all the existing pictures of the ladies who, I believe, lived at that time in Sinagiri. One is much darker than the others, and could have been called Abebech. No one knows, so please decide for yourself.
I would like to pay tribute to George Turnour, who in the early 19th Century discovered and translated the ‘Mahawansa’ from pali into singhalese and then into English, and Sir James Emerson Tennent, who was Governor of Ceylon from 1845 to 1849, and the author of the definitive ‘Ceylon - An Account of the Island’