Although much has been written about the Roman Empire and its vast military conquests, the Mongols actually reign as the greatest and the deadliest. It would take a Navy veteran turned author to bring their story to life, woven through an extraordinary series of fictional books.
Brad Graft was commissioned as a Marine from 1990 to 1994, serving on a dangerous deployment to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope, which would lead to the book and ultimately the blockbuster film, Black hawk down.
“We just did a variety of mind clearing missions and blast ammo. But we also built an orphanage for a Somali doctor trained in Russia, ”he explained. “There were little kids climbing all over my Marines and we built swings and jungle gyms for them. Yeah, there was a lot of ugly stuff, but helping people like we did was really satisfying.
The military was not always on its radar in the beginning. “I was supposed to play college football and I injured my neck,” Graft said.
His family had a small chain of mini golf courses all over the country, so football and running them was his plan before he got injured. Instead, he joined the Navy ROTC in college and turned to the small Marine Corps detachment. Upon graduation, he chose to become a combat engineer.
While on active duty, Graft’s twin brother and father had grown the business to 12 locations. After his transition he was ready to work in the family business. But something was missing.
“I always read non-fiction history books and was obsessed with things like the beautiful American Indian culture. Someone had told me about Steven Pressfield’s work – he was a really famous historical fiction writer, ”Graft explained.
At the time, he had taken a keen interest in the history of the Mongols and had written to Pressfield, imploring him to write about them. “But he turned the tables and told me me to write it down, ”Graft said with a laugh.
At its peak, the Mongols covered over nine million square miles, making it the largest contiguous empire in world history. Although Graft thought it was a crazy business, he decided to write about it. But becoming an author was no easy task, even for a Marine.
“It’s brutal. I think you have to be a pain dealer to stick with that, ”he joked.
It would take him 12 years to write the historical fictional story of the Mongols. He wrote early in the morning and late at night after working all day for the family business.
Graft would do more than just read the research and write the stories in his head. He lived and breathed it while traveling to spend time with the nomadic hunters still present in Mongolia, soaking up their culture.
In 2019 the first of the series, Chains of nobility, has been freed. Set in the 13th century, it takes the reader through the pages and into the unimaginable world of military slavery. Duyal, a teenager living in the Russian steppe, is captured during a Mughal invasion and forced on a deadly journey through the war-torn Middle East.
The book was awarded the Silver Medal in the Historical Fiction genre by the Military Writers Society of America in the same year. He was also shortlisted as a finalist for the Colby Prize and the 2020 National Independent Excellence Award for Military Fiction.
A Lion’s Share was released in 2020 and won another Silver Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. This time, readers were brought into the Seventh Crusade and its narrative through the Egyptian perspective.
The final and final chapter in the landmark series, Edge of Armageddon, releases on January 25, 2022. Here, readers will see the main characters from the first two books reunited while introducing a woman, Esel, into the trilogy. Archertier for her nomadic tribe, she is captured and enslaved by a wealthy Syrian merchant.
This is an excerpt from Graft’s website, detailing the story: A captivating story of betrayal and love, retribution and mercy, abandonment and redemption, Edge of Armageddon is also a compelling account of the historic battle of Ayn Julut – an unrecognized clash whose outcome leaves crucial repercussions still felt today.
Graft couldn’t explain why he was so called to the Mongols and the history of their empire. But just a year after finishing his books, he discovered a surprising connection. Her own family history dates back to the Volga, where her first book is set. “I wrote all of this before I even knew I had ancestors in the area,” he said.
As for what Graft would advise other aspiring veterans hoping to write, it was simple. “Do it. Learn as you go, sometimes you’ll fail and that’s okay. Don’t stop.
To learn more about this extraordinary Navy veteran author and his books, click here.