Reni Stankova was born and raised in Bulgaria. She writes historical fiction and MM high fantasy. Her day job is in Marketing. Reni is an avid traveler and in her spare time, you can find her on mountain hikes and other places that require lots of walking.
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Sirma's world is shattered to pieces when she bears witness to the abuse and murder of her two best friends by a gang of mountain outlaws. The village elders do nothing because they fear the wrath of Hamza Bei. Not long after, the same outlaws raid Sirma's village, and she is fed up with keeping quiet.
She disguises herself as a man and takes the lead of her own gang dedicated to protecting the mountain villages and searching for Hamza Bei to put a stop to his tyranny. She must clash with outlaws, survive the mountain wilderness, and keep her men from becoming the monsters they've sworn to fight. And her comrades don't even know she is a woman.
This is a historical fiction novel about the life of Sirma voivode, a real historical figure who lived in the most western parts of the then Ottoman Empire and took part in the Haiduk movement of Eastern Europe.
Book Excerpt or Article
“When the previous haiduk gang was gone,” Mitsov started. “I was told my brother, Georgi’s father, was the main reason. Apparently, he hated waiting for outlaws to become a threat, so he sought them out. And, if he couldn’t find them, he ambushed innocent people on the road. He carelessly made the hideout obvious, and in the end, the Albanian gang killed them off.”
For the first time, Sirma had her bannerman open up about a painful memory from his past. She didn’t know this. No details of the previous haiduk gang’s demise ever reached Tresonche. So, this was what killed her brother.
Sirma imagined his death in so many ways, but she never once thought about blaming someone else for it. She should learn from the mistakes of the past and make better decisions for everybody’s sake.
“I never told Georgi about it. I didn’t believe it at first,” Mitsov continued. “But it wasn’t hard to imagine. Outside of civilization, no one will see your crime, no one will punish you. If you believe you’re strong, you do whatever you want. It’s in every man’s nature. And you,” he looked her in the eyes with a smile on his face, “You kept a group of men, with nothing to lose, from becoming beasts. For so many years. That’s incredible.”
The praise was more than welcome, but Sirma didn’t believe it was all because of her leadership. There had to be something good in a person for a leader to bring it out. Sirma was blessed with the companionship of comrades with good hearts.
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