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Samarkand [Hardcover]

Amin Maalouf , Russell Harris
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 1992

Accused of mocking the inviolate codes of Islam, the Persian poet and sage Omar Khayyam fortuitously finds sympathy with the very man who is to judge his alleged crimes. Recognising genuis, the judge decides to spare him and gives him instead a small, blank book, encouraging him to confine his thoughts to it alone.

Thus beginds the seamless blend of fact and fiction that is Samarkand. Vividly re-creating the history of the manuscript of the Rubaiyaat of Omar Khayyam, Amin Maalouf spans continents and centuries with breathtaking vision: the dusky exoticism of 11th-century Persia, with its poetesses and assassins; the same country's struggles nine hundred years later, seen through the eyes of an American academic obsessed with finding the original manuscript ; and the fated maiden voyage of the Titanic, whose tragedy led to the Rubaiyaat's final resting place - all are brought to life with keen assurance by this gifted and award-winning writer.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (1 Jun 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704327414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704327412
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 14.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,628,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Maalouf's descriptions of the courts, the bazaar, the lives of mystics, kings and lovers are woven into an evocative and languid prose...and extraordinary book (INDEPENDENT)

An example of the best type of historical fiction (TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

Maalouf's fiction offers both a model for the future and a caution, a way towards cultural understanding and a appalling measure of the consequences of failure. His is a voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore. (The Guardian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Amin Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist and writer. He has served as a director of the weekly international edition of the leading Beirut dail an-Nahar, and editor in chief of Jeune Afrique. He lives in Paris with his wife and three children. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Sometimes in Samarkand, in the evening of a slow and dreary day, city dwellers would come to while the time away at the dead-end Street of Two Taverns, near the pepper market. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Life-Changing 4 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have (had?) no interest in the history of Persia or Turkey, but was advised by a friend that this was a good book. This book is so good. I read the first three-quarters in two days, then delayed getting to the end for a month. Beautifully written, incisive, thought-provoking, I have resolved to read it again - an honour I give few books. Brilliant, a must-read if you're interested in people, places, lifestyles or love. And if you're not interested in any of those...
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illustration of history 2 July 2003
By A Customer
Samarkand is a lust and a must for everyone with an interest in the history of the Islamic world. Set against the background of 10th century Persia, invading Turks, the sekt of the Assassins and the fading of Islam as a quite liberal religion Malouf not writes but depicts his story. Knowing a bit of the history of the region and the backgrounds of Islam helps. Samarkand is a wonderful gate into a world so many people nowadays unrightfully fear.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I had high expectations when I started reading this since I had already read Leo Africanus and The Crusades Through Arab Eyes and loved them. The book is a great introduction to Omar Khayyam and his quatrains although it is a historical "novel". It gives you quite an education on a number of ancient historical figures and major events. Examples are the Mongol Empire and the sect of the Assassins. I was particularly interested in the Assassins where the modern use of the word comes from and a major part of the story deals with them. I would recommend it to anyone who relishes history and a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Tale 10 Jan 2010
This book was my first tast of Maalouf having come across it for a 90% discount in the Borders closing down tale. It transported me to a world so beautiful and real i coul almost touch it. Amin Maalouf is a master story teller with few equals in this age
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanted work highly recommended 24 May 2000
By EssJay
I found this book hard work in the first few pages but by the end of chapter one I had entered the enchanted world of medieval Islam complete with schisms, love, murder and poetry and swept into the genius of the Omar Khayam. A highly recommended and critical insight into a fascinating thinker of world class importance.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book deserves more than simply 5 stars... 26 Nov 2001
A remarkable, beautifully written peace of work - both rich in its language and detail, and enlightening in its content.
The novel presents us with great insights into the history of the middle east and allows us to see why there are so many hatreds between the "east" and the "west". Yet he also shows, with his brilliant merging of fact and fiction, that in the deep philosophies of life, there need not be so many differences between the cultures afterall.
Moreover, he does this in a way that is extremely fascinating and readable - it is truly difficult to put the book down once it is in your hands.
Maalouf makes the ancient world come to life in front of your eyes with his vivid descriptions and characterisation. Truly brilliant.
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By Fifth
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Phenomenal. Really, the best example of historical fiction you could ask for, and it covers so much. I was upset when the story transitioned from 11C Persia to the constitutional revolution period at the turn of the 20C, simply because I had been so immersed in world of Omar Kayyam Maalouf had created, but soon enough I was completely swept up in the second setting the book takes you too. What a way to learn about the world we live in.
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4.0 out of 5 stars MY PERSONAL OPINION ON MAALUF 12 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
He is an oriental and the book keeps this taste. I like him especially because he is a poet and knows well two so distant countrys
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting enough
I read this because I am planning a trip to Uzbekistan and it was recommended by the tour company. The structure of the novel is basically two narratives, which follow one... Read more
Published 5 months ago by judith
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I loved this book, different times and different culture. I should have taken it with me when travelling. Nicely written so that it is easy to read.
Published 6 months ago by M Ellel
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and Mysterious
This is the second copy I've bought. I loved it so much I gave a copy to a close friend. It follows Omar Khayam through his life in ancient Samarkand.
Published 6 months ago by Pollysue
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and engaging insight into history and culture
I can't add much to BL Weber's ( review other than to say, having also just read From the Ruins of Empire, it... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Floundering Fathers
5.0 out of 5 stars Samarkand
What a journey, what an imagination and what a rich and smooth vocab. Amine Malouf has been always very insirationel writer to me since I was in high school...
Published 7 months ago by A. Sahnoun
5.0 out of 5 stars A sweeping tale woven through time
For me this book was an exquisite read. I savoured the cultural viewpoint and the deep characterisation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by The Big Book Basset
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I was Expecting
but a good read anyway. First half of the book stuck in Islamic traditional war stories but the book developed well and rounded out to be a good story.
Published 9 months ago by Rikki Harcourt
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story
I loved the first story about Omar, [I could have done with a family tree, or a diagram of how everyone was linked to one another (! Read more
Published 15 months ago by riad achour
5.0 out of 5 stars very pleasant reading
it was very pleasant to read. i didnt understand how i finished it.
plus it travels u nicely to other centuries and the story of the people, the customs, governors etc. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 2011 by leonidas z
5.0 out of 5 stars Smarkand
An entertaining fictional account of the life and times of Omar Kayham set against the historical background of the Seljuk Turks. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by BruTam
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