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The Gardens Of Light [Paperback]

Amin Maalouf
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Sep 1997

Born in a Mesopotamian village in the third century, the son of a Parthian warrior, Mani grows up in a volatile and dangerous world. As battle rages for control over the Middle East between the great Roman and Persian empires, as Jews and Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians fight for ascendency, Mani- painter, mystic, physician and prophet- makes his way through the battlefields to preach to his incandescent doctrine of humility, tolerance and love, a doctrine that comes to be known as Manicheanism.

A vivid glimpse of the ancient world in all its perfumed splendour and cruelty, an elegantly philosophical discourse on the fall of man, THE GARDENS OF LIGHT is a story of great beauty and resonance, exquisitely told.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (4 Sep 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349108714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349108711
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 179,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore. (GUARDIAN)

Amin Maalouf weaves tapestries of intrigue that illuminate a broader historical moment... in his engaging prose [he goes] a considerable way towards restoring Mani to eloquent as ever. (THE TIMES)

A romantic and affectionate tale... engaging. (TLS)

A master storyteller... and his observation of human nature in all its facets is wonderfully accurate. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

About the Author

Amin Maalouf is Lebanese and was formerly director of the weekly international edition of the Beirut daily 'an-Nahar' and editor in chief of 'Jeune Afrique.' His novel THE ROCK OF TANIOS won the Prix Goncourt prize. Dorothy S. Blair is a critic and translator of many French books.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maalouf, bewitching as always 23 Jun 2004
OK, let me get the irritating self-promoting comment out of the way first - Maalouf is best read in French (heh-heh-heh). If you can't manage that, then translation is a fantastic second-best. Maalouf would probably be best described as a 'natural storyteller' - he gives the impression that prose comes to him wonderfully easily. The words that flow from his pen all seem to fall into the right place; the rhythm of his language is faultless and the colour of his descriptions blinds the reader with the richness of the scenes portrayed. The Middle East comes to life in his books - no longer peopled with incomprehensible Arabs, the area becomes so much more human as the author clearly adores not only a period which he describes with relish as well as love, but also his characters who are blessed with a goodness which restores any cynic's doubt in mankind. His main characters are full of love and hope for those around them; peace comes to them naturally and the serenity they display in his books is imparted to the reader. The philosophy of the The Gardens of Light is so approachable; the 'message' of the book so easy to grasp as to be unimportant in the tapestry of beauty that Maalouf weaves. I don't mean this to sound pretentious; simply put, it's a book that's lovely to read. I give Maalouf's novels to friends (male and female) as presents and they're almost unanimous in their praise. There are so many new novels that try to impress us at every turn that it isn't always easy to choose a modern author who won't disappoint - Maalouf is a pretty safe bet. His language isn't particularly demanding; and this particular novel is short enough for anyone at least to give him a try.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a tolerant vision of religion ! 21 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Amin Maalouf, with its exceptional oriental writer abilities, describes the life and exposes the theory of Mani, theory which had been caricatured as "manicheism". His conceptions are extremely tolerant and intelligent, and it is really enrichening. One of my 10 favorite books
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as depicted 22 July 2011
This is the first book I've read by Amin Maalouf and as noted by another reviewer, he is a natural story teller, irrestibly drawing the reader in as the story unfolds. The book revolves around Mani, a spiritual figure who gave rise to the heresy of Manichaeism, a movement that was a pernicious influence on Christianity and an inspiration for the Cathars and other, more or less gnostic sects. At this point I must make it clear that I am not a Christian, lest anyone think my arguments are specious. The author depicts his subject in a saintly light, a figure motivated by divine revelation. In fact, Mani was a person who rejected the material world in it's entirety and via his writings was a significant influence on St Augustine and hence Christianity. In common with that other great spiritual misanthrope, Paul of Tarsus, it has been argued that Mani, via Augustine managed to largely derail Christianity and distort it's founders message. The fallout from this is a matter of historical record and it's undoubted blight on the proper development of human spirituality pretty much unassailable, quite aside from it's psychopathology, which gave rise to periodic episodes every bit as dark and desperate as that of the Holocaust. To be fair, the author more or less sticks to the historical facts woven into his novel and as such it is quite an achievement as well as a cracking good read. However the book is about a figure that condemned sex, eating meat and dairy products and promoted the usual catalogue of iniquities in the course of elevating spirituality above all other human needs. So the subject is then, not quite as depicted here.
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