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Reviewed by A. L. Peevey for Readers' Favorite
Besa Po by Hana Noka takes us readers back in time to the age of the Roman Empire. But, this book follows the life of Queen Teuta of fabled Illyria and recounts the love she has for King Agron. However, she is a warrior in her own right and is driven by a “besa po”, a strong oath or promise to defend her homeland against the Roman invaders. Queen Teuta suffers great personal loss at the hands of the Romans, the military superpower of their times, and faces betrayal by members of her own family. Will she be able to battle the Romans on equal terms and save her people?
Besa Po by Hana Noka is based on ancient history, and the author has done her homework in transporting us so far into the past that it predates the Christian era. She also has a stake in this story in that she comes from the Balkan region where ancient Illyria lay. The characters are vividly drawn in such a way that we can hear their distinct voices. Her descriptions of the day-to-day sights and sounds of ancient Illyria and the war to keep the Romans at bay help us to see and hear and almost touch the stones of King Agron’s castle and the other places in this book. Noka also urgently reminds us of the paradox of Queen Teuta, who is a woman ahead of her time, a powerful female leader at a time in world history when men dominated as the rulers of the common people. Readers who love books based in historical fact will find this an intriguing, eye-opening read.