Frankincense and the birth of Christ

Everyone knows the story of the three wise men: that they came to pay tribute to the baby Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And every child, when they first hear the story, wonders what frankincense and myrrh are, and why such strange gifts were given to a baby. Wouldn’t a teddy bear and a rattle have been more appropriate?Frankincense

Common belief now is that the ‘wise men’ were in fact astrologers, and that the stars foretold the birth of a great king. Gold is obviously a tribute for a king, but frankincense and myrrh?

Frankincense tree in Dhofar mountain, OmanFrankincense and myrrh are both aromatics, burned as incense or used in the making of perfumes. Each comes from the bark of a certain type of tree – boswellia sacra (frankincense) and Commiphora myrrha (myrrh) – that only grows in Oman, Yemen, and Somalia. The trees could only be harvested at certain times of year, and then the resin (sap) had to cure for several months. Then the resin was transported by camel for hundreds – sometimesFrankincenseResin thousands – of miles, across precarious terrain. Because of this, frankincense and myrrh were extremely valuable; at the time of Jesus’ birth, frankincense was worth its weight in gold!

Both were was used in religious ceremonies: when they are burned, they give off a fragrant smoke, and the smoke was thought to carry prayers up. This, as well as their value, made them gifts very worthy of a king!

You can read more about the history of frankincense the Young Adult novel The Frankincense Trail. The story is set in 200BC – two centuries before the birth of Christ  –  in Arabia, where the frankincense trees grow. There were both monotheistic (worshipping one god) and pantheistic (worshipping many gods) societies at the time; and all of them, from Arabia to Rome to China, valued frankincense.

You can also read more about frankincense on The Frankincense Trail website.

Three Wise Men

Reviewers needed for Frankincense Trail blog tour

Another of my books is going off on vacation!

Lightning Book Promotions is organizing a blog tour for The Frankincense Trail in November, and we’re looking for reviewers. If you have a book review blog with 250+ followers, like YA historical fiction, and are interested in participating, please contact Stormi (details in her post). Once we have a list of confirmed bloggers, we’ll provide you with a copy of the book to review. We’ll also be running a 10-copy giveaway that your readers can enter.

Here’s the book’s trailer:

…and the synopsis:

In 200 BC, frankincense was worth its weight in gold, making Arabia was the envy of the world. But wealth comes at a cost: the precious resin had to be transported along the Frankincense Road, a dangerous route through rocky mountains and barren desert.

Alia is a princess in a dwindling kingdom that lies on the Frankincense Road. Having grown up hearing tales of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, she dreams of finding a way to restore her kingdom’s former might. When a caravan journeying to the mysterious incense lands stops to take on travellers, she sees her chance.

She soon realises, however, that her trust in the caravan leaders has been misguided. They are not mere incense merchants, but traitors and mercenaries. Alia’s journey soon turns from dangerous to life-threatening.

The Frankincense Trail is a story that transports the reader to a time and place reminiscent of the Arabian Nights tales.

You can read more about the book (and a preview of the first two chapters) on its website.

UPDATE: we now have all the blog tour places filled. I’ll post news of the tour nearer to the time (Nov 1-10), including details of the giveaway!