This tale came to me, as I was taking a vacation in Ukraine during a visit to Zavaliv, a town where I was born and grew up. The town was established in the early 1500s and it is a big part of Western Ukraine’s history.
Zavaliv was once a city with its own castle, a small army and it played an important role in the Ottoman empire’s attempts to break into Western Europe. City’s castle has been sacked and ruined a few times, but always rebuilt back up. It remained standing until the communist regime destroyed it to get rid of all semblance of royalty in the land, they had newly acquired post World War 2.
All historical details in this story are true, including the Cossacks visit, the battle with Ottomans, and even the main protagonist’s name. It’s not just my vanity speaking, although I wish to be more like Roman Petriv every day. Whether he was a real person, we’ll never know, but his legend is well and alive. I also took special care to mimic Zavaliv’s geography, where this tale takes place. The only thing that has changed since the 1500s is its name. Originally named Golden Oak, it was changed to a Polish Zawałów, then went to Russian Zavalov (Завалов) after the Soviet Union acquired it and now, Ukrainian Zavaliv (Завалів).
After many conversations with a local populace, many of whom remember me as a child and know my family’s roots, they were excited to share what they know to be true. That is how this idea grew into a glorious story.
As far as the mythology goes, well…that is for you to decide and for me to know.