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Desert Rhapsody [Kindle Edition]

Ameen Basheh
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £2.93 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description


"[The Arabs] lived in tents and were barbarians and warlike; numerous were superstitious and they were the most ignorant of all the peoples of the earth."
-- a late sixth century resident of Mesopotamia

During the 6th century in the Arabian Peninsula, Harb, like the other warriors of that time, scrapes a living by raiding other tribes of equal stature--until the day he convinces his allies to raid the great tribe of Aghlib. On the day of the battle, he holds his blade in his hand. It shines brilliantly under the bright desert sky and he smiles back at it. He leads the charge against the men of Aghlib, not knowing or caring that his selfish acts will have dire consequences.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 618 KB
  • Print Length: 246 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E05BTZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #769,244 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read! 24 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Desert Rhapsody is a good book. It is unusual and interesting in that it explores the culture in pre-Islamic Arabia. As such it explores emotions of revenge, glory, greed, pride, love, dignity, destiny and faith. I liked getting a glimpse of life and culture of those days. I got the feeling that the book was not written to explore the history ad culture of that period and only grazes the surface. I feel that Basheh could have slowed the pace of the book and spent a bit more time on developing/exploring the culture, history and the characters. As it is, the book starts off running and finishes with a sprint. I loved the story and the theme. To me it felt like the purpose of this book is to convey the story with just the facts and glimpses into mentality of people at the time and to let the readers make up their own assumptions and theories, the book does this very well.

The book revolves round the character of Harb. It follows Harb through his life as he grows from a simple warrior to a leader of an empire, a husband an a father exploring emotions of greed, glory, love, pride, destiny...and comes to a full circle with the demise of the empire, himself and his family. It explores the identity and roles of men and women in that period.
It is a good read and I would definitely recommend it.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it"
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4.0 out of 5 stars Off the beaten path 11 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Desert Rhapsody is a difficult book to classify.
It is not a history book yet it fills in the blanks, by finely portraying an epoch we tend to forget about in our world history books, vividly bringing to life the culture and traditions of the 6th century tribal Arabian peninsula.
It is not a philosophy book yet intimately written as the private spontaneous ruminations on behalf of the characters involved, shedding a realistic light on the philosophy, believes and culture of the time.
It is not a romance book yet we feel for the troubled love lives of the characters or for the friendships full of respectful devotion.
Following the rise of an individual from a mere tribal warrior to a powerful leader of a confederation of many tribes, the book narrates the birth of his dynasty and a legacy to hold, where private affairs become political strategies.
I received a copy in order to review the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking 29 Jan. 2015
By Pat1360 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
The setting and time period of Desert Rhapsody are as important to the flavor of the story as the characters. Indeed, the characters of Harb and his family seem more mythic than sympathetic. They are defined by the harshness of the Arabian desert and the almost constant tribal warfare. Ameen Basheh's well-written prose brings us to a culture that could equally well be captured in an epic poem or song. It is quite a thought-provoking journey, and the book is well worth the effort to read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Off the beaten path 11 Jan. 2014
By Acquafortis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Desert Rhapsody is a difficult book to classify.
It is not a history book yet it fills in the blanks, by finely portraying an epoch we tend to forget about in our world history books, vividly bringing to life the culture and traditions of the 6th century tribal Arabian peninsula.
It is not a philosophy book yet intimately written as the private spontaneous ruminations on behalf of the characters involved, shedding a realistic light on the philosophy, believes and culture of the time.
It is not a romance book yet we feel for the troubled love lives of the characters or for the friendships full of respectful devotion.
Following the rise of an individual from a mere tribal warrior to a powerful leader of a confederation of many tribes, the book narrates the birth of his dynasty and a legacy to hold, where private affairs become political strategies.
I received a copy in order to review the book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked the story 26 July 2013
By RGsmith82 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I have mixed feelings about the book. The plot is great, once you get into it. The beginning portion (Part 1, maybe even Part II) is relatively slow, especially as it mostly seems like Harb (the leader of the tribe) is just grunting and boasting about how deathly and awesome he is, which I found tiresome. However, it really picks up once Harb starts his family and settles the tribe. Since I really didn't like Harb, I preferred when the narrative moved to the perspectives of Imru, Mazin, Fareedah, and Itimad.

I had some issues with Basheh's writing. He seemed to slip into clichés a few times--"fought with the strength of a thousand warriors" and a couple of others that I don't really remember. I thought that portions of the book were written wildly better than others. The ending, narrated by Mazin, was by far the best. It also gets pretty philosophical later in the book, which I liked. However, it was quite a jarring change in tone from the beginning of the book. A philosophical bent could have been incorporated into the entire novel to make it less discordant.

Basheh has some issues with characters as well. At times, Harb seems willing to chuck customs and the opinion of others. At other times, he seems to care so much that he's willing to commit murder of a daughter that he loves. The narrator and Harb himself implies and says frequently of Fareedah that she is his "light and love", yet he does terrible things to her when he meets her and then to her child? (Sorry, tried to get around writing spoilers!) The same idea goes with Imru and his supposed love, Itimad.

That brings me to the only two significant female characters, Fareedah and Itimad, both who seem to be rather one-note and uninteresting. Their only thoughts revolve around men and babies. For all I know, this was accurate considering the time and place of the novel, but it seems to me that men of every era assume that this is what consumes women when they don't know anything about the other sex. Though I'm not a woman, I can't imagine a female reading this and not remarking on this. There is a portion where Fareedah gravitates towards monotheism instead of the gods her tribe worships, but it's not flushed out enough.

Again, the plot is pretty gripping, so I recommend it to anyone looking for a decent read, especially for the price. The themes of death and ties to your culture are nice, too. I'd be really interested to see what Basheh does next, as I think he shows promise as a storyteller.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, fast-moving plot 24 July 2013
By AngelaJP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was struck, when I started reading Desert Rhapsody, of how little I know about pre-Islamic Arabia (or present-day Arabia, for that matter.) My favorite part of the book was therefore getting a glimpse into a heretofore relatively unexplored period and culture in fiction. That in itself makes Desert Rhapsody a worthwhile read for anyone interested in world literature. In fact, I would have liked for Basheh to have included even more history, architecture, description of customs, etc. in the book.

Without wanting to give away too much, the book explores existential themes of glory, love, family, religion, and death. Many of the main characters, including the women, struggle between a sense of duty (to their families, tribes, or culture) and the lives they have envisioned for themselves or believe they deserve. Though these internal struggles make them interesting, it does not make any of them particularly likeable or relatable to the wide majority of Basheh's likely readership. However, complicated and difficult characters shouldn't be a problem for any serious or thoughtful reader.

The plot is consistently intriguing and often engrossing, with events moving through different generations of the "Buthaina" tribe, and culminates in a rather philosophical rumination on the "big questions" of the meaning of life and death and religion's rightful role, if any, in our existences.

In short, I highly recommend it for a fast-moving and educational (but in a good way!) read.
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