Mystery and Myth Along the Silk Road

When you’re writing about East meets West as I am in The Force of Wind, you can’t really avoid research into the fascinating history of The Silk Road. This network of land routes linking Europe, Africa, and Asia began as far back as Alexander the Great. By the time the Chinese silk trade rose to world prominence, the Silk Road (which was actually a myriad of connecting roads) covered over four thousand miles and stretched from Rome to China. (Appropriate for Gio and B, no?)

The bazaar in Samarkand

The Silk Road carried silk, of course, along with spices, textiles, rare jewels, and gold; but it was the human trade that I was most interested in. Not slaves (though slaves were traded along the route), but the trade of technology, philosophy, language, art, and culture that moved back and forth along this vast network.

And along these ancient paths, some fascinating and mysterious stories arise. Legends of blond-haired, blue eyed tribes that roamed central Asia. Lost people groups and dead languages. Mysterious mummies. The ancient world was a vast sea of myth. Rising in the far East, and closely tied with Taoist and Buddhist philosophy, are the stories of the Eight Immortals, who I’ll introduce you to next week.

During its height, the Silk Road represented a kind of international culture that can hardly be matched, even in the modern world. Mediteranean, Persian, Magyar, Armenien, Bactrian, Indian, Chinese. All these peoples and cultures traveled the Silk Road, exchanging goods, stories, language, and culture. The Silk Road spread philosophy and art, war and disease. Success along the Silk Road brought wealth and influence, and its gradual descent into obscurity brought down kings and nations.

In modern times, the old routes are still being used, but this time they’re crossed by Eurasian rail lines instead of camels and horses. Many museums have exhibits that feature the history of the Silk Road, and there is even a Silk Route Museum in Jiuquan, China with over 35,000 artifacts from all over the ancient trade routes.


And for your listening pleasure, here’s another song from The Force of Wind soundtrack:

Loreena McKennitt-Caravanserai

What is this life that pulls me far away

What is that home where we cannot reside

What is that quest that pulls me onward

My heart is full when you are by my side

Thanks for reading,


3 thoughts on “Mystery and Myth Along the Silk Road

  1. Roxanne Wightman says:

    I am so blown away by your writing! I am not sure how I found you but I’m so glad I did. Your poetic, romantic, fun loving, historical, bloodthirsty (in all the best ways!) soul has me under your spell. I read your Elemental Mysteries as I was laying in bed dealing with the loss of my dear Father recently and of course my allergies have had me flat out too but still able to read and so I found you on my Kindle. (My Father was born in Tabriz, Iran and I am hungry for all things Persian to soothe me right now.) Your books are smart, fun, so very loving and you are educating us as we read along. I had to look up Abu Musa Jibir ibn Hayyan to see if he was real and my love of your books grew immensily as I realized he was very real. Now I want to re-read the 4 books and do alittle research along the way. You have peaked my history-buff hidden geek and I just want to thank you on so many different levels for writing as you do. Passion for your characters and where you take us readers. You are really amazing and I hope you continue to write and love your characters and their lives as you do. To find your level of writing, so intelligent, with history woven so beautifully throughout and the respect and love you put into the stories… I am forever in awe and look forward to the past and future worlds you will unfold for us.

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