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Fallen Kings of Medieval Sicily

Carlo Treviso Author Interview

Siciliana recounts Aetna’s journey as she struggles to bring Sicilians together in rebellion against their French conquerors. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As a first-generation son of a Sicilian immigrant family, I wrote “Siciliana” in an attempt to change the paradigm of how Sicily and Sicilians are portrayed in popular entertainment. Meaning moving away from the stereotypical mafia don and casino mobster depictions and into the beguiling world of forbidden knights, forgotten fortresses, and fallen kings of medieval Sicily. 

Aetna Vespiri is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character’s development?

I grew up with sisters and I am inspired by strong women. I envisioned Aetna as a sharp, intelligent, fiery force of nature like the Sicilian volcano that she’s named after. Aetna is an uncompromising leader who is not afraid to speak her mind and live her truth even if it means risking her life standing up against the tyrannical forces who are oppressing her people.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There were major themes that I wanted to explore in the novel.

Family (cosca). At the heart of the book this term called “cosca.” Cosca is Sicilian for an artichoke. An artichoke, as you may know, has layered blade-like leaves that cover it’s heart. The artichoke, then, becomes a metaphor for the Sicilian family unit. Back in medieval times, Sicilians wielded short swords called stiletto blades. And with the blade of the stiletto is how they protected their family. Thus, when all of the Sicilians came together with their blades, that created the cosca, or artichoke, of the family. On top of this broader revolution story, you get this contemplation of what it means to be cosca…family.

Identity. In short, this theme explores what it means to be Sicilian. By the same token, our main protagonist, Aetna Vespiri, develops not only a new identity for herself when she steps out of obscurity and into the pages of history as the revolutionary hero who becomes known only as Siciliana, but also helps define a new identity for the nation of Sicily.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on my second novel though the details aren’t quite ready to share yet. I hope to have it completed in the next two or three years.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Twitter | FacebookWebsite

A family torn apart by conflict.
An uprising of deadly magnitude.
A nation altered forever.
Inspired by actual events, Siciliana is the harrowing tale of a young woman’s courage in the face of unthinkable turmoil.
In 1282 AD, the Kingdom of Sicily is under the rule of a tyrannical French king and subject to his brutal Angevin army. Daily acts of violence and persecution are commonplace in a once-prosperous realm.
For twenty-year-old Aetna Vespiri, daughter of a revered Sicilian knight, survival has become second nature. As a child, she witnessed the destruction of her family’s vineyard by Angevin soldiers and spent the next decade learning the tenets of stiletto-blade combat.
Years later in Palermo, as the evening bells toll for Vespers, Aetna fends off a nefarious sergeant and sparks an uprising against the Angevin occupation. Now, standing at the forefront of an accelerating people’s rebellion, Aetna finds herself fighting not only for a nation she believes in but also for the meaning of family. In her darkest hour, this dauntless Sicilian woman steps out of obscurity and into the pages of history.
The legend of Siciliana is born.
Set amid bustling Arab markets and brooding Norman fortresses, Siciliana will envelop readers in the sights, sounds, and dangers lurking around every corner of medieval Sicily.

Siciliana

What would you do if you were born into a world where you had no control over your future? Aetna Vespiri, a young Sicilian woman living in French-controlled Sicily in the 1200’s, defies her own fate in answering this question.

Carlo Treviso’s Siciliana weaves a legendary tale, recounting Aetna’s journey as she struggles to bring Sicilians together in rebellion against their French conquerors, the Angevins. Aside from the overarching national struggle, Aetna, along with dynamic side characters like Fra’Diavulu, a formidable man in a devil mask who wields a flaming sword, and Don Rapaci, a great knight who fights with the help of an eagle, also face familial and identity struggles to form a very thrilling conclusion.

Treviso creates a captivating and realistic depiction of rebellion, as he describes both the awe-inspiring nationalistic moments, such as the creation of a new flag, as well as the less rosy-colored moments that happen in the shadows, such as a mob’s bloodthirstiness against the abusive Angevins. The author, the son of a Sicilian immigrant, uses this book to capture the heart of a Sicilian identity, describing the culture, food (he includes little recipes at the back of the book!), architecture, and strong connection to family (cosca). These descriptions help justify why Sicilians wanted to create a national identity for themselves, as well as how they all managed to band together despite a high risk of death.

I heartily enjoyed this rousing historical thriller, but I felt that some of the side characters were not as developed as other characters. While Treviso creates some interesting and unique characters to read about, others felt dull in comparison to the main characters.

I recommend Siciliana to readers who are interested in Sicilian culture or engrossing historical fiction. While the book feels lengthy at times, watching Aetna overcome one impossible situation after another is engaging, and all the elements of Sicilian culture sprinkled in speak to Treviso’s immense heart and personal connection with this story.

Pages: 483 | ASIN: B09TQ5R61R

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