Nothembi of Azenya

Nothembi the Azenyan Soldier

Having distinguished herself as one of the bravest and most formidable soldiers in her province, Nothembi was well on her way to becoming an inDuna (army commander) for the Kingdom of Azenya. But fate almost threw a wrench into her ambitions when British marauders under Col. Benedict Chambers launched a devastating raid against her village, carrying off her bookish little brother Lungelo. Figuring the British want to use Lungelo’s newfound discoveries about uranium to manufacture the most destructive weapons known to humanity yet, Nothembi has taken it upon herself to pry him free from their clutches. But she may need the help of a vagabond Texas Ranger who won’t tell her why he ran away from his country across the Atlantic…

Nothembi’s home country Azenya isn’t a real one (though I drew its name from the old Greek word “Azania”), but it combines elements of various historical peoples in southern Africa, especially the Shona of Great Zimbabwe and the Nguni-speaking kingdoms of South Africa (e.g. the Swazi, Xhosa, and Zulu). I would place it somewhere around where modern-day South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique touch. You might recognize Nothembi’s short spear (or iklwa) and oxhide shield as Zulu-influenced, but the stela in the background attests to Azenya’s tradition of monumental stone architecture much like Zimbabwe (though the hieroglyphic sign is meant to channel ancient Egypt, since that’s the best known written script native to Africa). As for her story, I’m still in the process of outlining it (though large parts of it are scavenged from my writer’s back-burner), but I would sum it up as an adventurous historical romance in which this beautiful African warrior and a runaway Texas Ranger team up to save Azenya from the world’s first uranium-based explosive in the year 1878…which the warrior’s own brother was forced to make.

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