Book your next holiday to Sri Lanka, and when you get there head straight for Singiriya!
The story is set in 5th Century Sri Lanka – Taprobane as it was then called. A princess from Eritrea becomes the fourth wife of the Raja of Taprobane. The story relates her journey by land and sea, escorted by her brother, from Assaba to Puttulam, and their adventures on the way, even being attacked by pirates! The story continues with her marriage, and her life in the rock fortress of Sinagiri, meaning Lion Rock (nowadays called Singirya).
But, nobody had told her of the mysterious death of the former Raja, or the strange recluse like life that the present Raja, his son, had taken to. From her friends she learned of the younger brothers pledge to take revenge on his brother, and raise an army in India, which he eventually did. Her marriage to the Raja is somewhat of a sham, and she starts an affair with the son of the historian, who had started to write the Mahawansa. When the Raja is killed in battle by the avenging younger brother, following the discovery of the body of the old Raja, her life changes and she moves from the rock fortress to Anuradhapura, the former capital.
The story is based on historical fact. Battles, buildings and recorded events are set out factually (although the pirates are my imagination). There was a Raja Kasyapu, who killed his father, and then in remorse became a recluse. He was, in fact, killed several years later by his younger brother after the body of the old Raja was found encased (alive) in plaster in the wall of the old palace. Whilst at the rock fortress about 500 court ladies had their portraits painted in a cave on the rock face, and a few still exist today.
But what were their names?