The untold story of generations of Middle Eastern freedom fighters—horsewomen who safeguarded an ancient breed of Caspian horse—and their efforts to defend their homelands from the Taliban and others seeking to destroy them.

Drawing on decades of research, newly-discovered materials, and exclusive military sources, Pardis Mahdavi chases the legacy of Caspian horses and the women whose lives are saved by them. Among those intersecting stories is that of American Louise Firouz, who helped the breed back from the brink of extinction, connecting Virginia traders to British royals to the son of the Shah. Her life is forever changed when she meets Mahdavi’s own family, who run an unusual smuggling operation in addition to raising horses in a wild bid for freedom.

Book of Queens reaches back centuries to the Persian Empire and a woman disguised as a man, facing an invading army, protected only by light armor and the stallion she sat astride. Mahdavi draws a thread from then to now, to her fearless Iranian grandmother who guided survivors of domestic violence to independent mountain colonies in Afghanistan where the women, led by a general named Mina, became their country’s first line of defense from marauding warlords. To the present-day female warriors who trained the horses used by US Green Berets when they touched down in October 2001 with a mission but no intelligence on the ground—women who were then left behind.

Book of Queens is an epic tale of hidden women whose communal knowledge was instrumental in saving an animal as ancient as civilization, and who were the genesis of their own liberation.