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The Rock Of Tanios
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2001
This is one of those magical books in which, on almost every page, there is a sentence or turn of phrase that literally makes you catch your breath. The superb craftmanship of the writing of this book is admirable, but it is the unforced eloquence of the story that enchanted me. I was actually disappointed when it ended...despite the grace and strength of his other works, I feel strongly that this is--so far!-his masterpiece.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 1999
For the first time, Amin Maalouf talks about his home country, Lebanon. He does it without even mentioning its name but with great sensitivity. Less history oriented than his former books but very touching. I couldn't put it down before getting to the end.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2003
As an avid reader of Amin Maalouf's work anyway, I was really looking forward to reading The Rock of Tanios when it came out. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself far more impressed by this book than any of his others.
The book tells the story of a small Lebanese village where the Sheikh is the master who must be obeyed. His son (or is he? read it to find out) Tanios rebels against the system and suddenly disappears. But what has happened to him? No one knows, but his name is made famous by his disappearance.
Years later scholars try to find out what happened.
Don't take my word for it. Read it. It's great. If you're interested in the Middle East you'll love this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2000
I just finished reading this book and, as expected with Maalouf, I was enchanted. It reads like a fairy tale only much closer to reality (at least for myself). All vices from hate to lust are represented with such vivid imagery, The kind of book that makes you reflect after every page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2010
The Rock of Tanios, which won the Prix Goncourt, is set in Christian and Druze communities in the Lebanese mountains at the time of Mehmet Ali's campaigns against the Ottomans (late 1830s). It is an interesting story in which events often occur as the result of issues specific to the community in which they take place rather than deriving from an outsider's assumption of a cross-cultural commonality of motivation and emotion. As with other books by Maalouf, this is an excellent read and often fascinating. The reconstruction of a community, its values and everyday life is highly skilled. Perhaps his best.
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on 6 February 2014
This was an entertaining read, especially for those interested in Lebanon and folk legends. Although the story and titular character are fictional, the historical context is based upon real events (the shifting powers of the middle-eastern rulers and European empires). The tumultuous state of Asia and the Arabian Peninsula are the stage upon which a more personal story is told, of Tanios and his village. There are many unusual and intriguing characters, with traditions just as eccentric.

As I am pretty ignorant about the history of the areas mentioned, I was at times a little lost when reading the book, specifically during the latter portion when all the talk of the Emir and the empires began. I also felt that some of the characterisation may have been lost in translation, or perhaps could have benefited from more adventurous imagery and dialogue.

On the whole, though, it's a good read. Not amongst the greatest Lebanese / French literature, but not one to be dismissed either. It gives you a taste of the Lebanon of old, and I find myself hungry for more.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2007
I decided to try the Rock of Tanios after reading Amin Maalouf's excellent non fiction work "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" although having read some mixed reviews about Maalouf's fiction I wasn't sure what to expect. The Rock of Tanios did not disappoint. Far from it. Its a superb novel which will appeal to readers interested in the Middle East and fans of historical fiction alike.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2010
This book was chosen by our Round the World Book Group. It is excellent, and I thoroughly recommend that you read it. The action starts in the 1830s in a small feudal domain in the area once known as The Levant. The Sheikh seems at first to be a fairly honest lord of the manor, taking his due from the villagers, leading them in wartime, but giving them his protection in return. However, we find that he is not above exercising his feudal privileges, and in particular his droit de seigneur, in the same way as any mediaeval lord would have done. The village of Kfaryabda is Druze, rather than Roman Catholic, but the same rule applies. The Sheikh's exercising of these "rights" may (or perhaps may not - that is the mystery) have led to the birth of the eponymous Tanios. The "Great Game" begins to be played out in and around Kfaryabda, with the Egyptians taking over the area, supported by the local overlord, the Emir, with his co-operation being assured by taking members of his family hostage. Thus Britain's route to India is blocked. We see the first hint of tragedy to come when the English Consol (cunningly, a Catholic) presents the gift of a beautiful hunting rifle to the Sheikh's proud son, Raad (page 103). Shortly after this we see the Patriarch's pride beginning to lead him to take actions which, inevitably, have consequences far beyond anything which might be imagined. The assassination of the Patriarch concludes the first part of the disaster hinted at on page 103. Things progress. Tanios and his father, Gerios, escape to Cyprus, they are tricked by an agent of the Emir into boarding a ship to return to The Levant, Tanios is prevented from boarding by a Turkish official because of superstition. Gerios is executed by hanging. The war goes on and rebellion spreads. Then Tanios finds himself tasked by the English with taking an ultimatum to the Emir - he must either abandon his support for the Egyptians, or go into exile. Later, when asked to judge and condemn Roukoz, Tanios experiences at first hand the problems of rank. At the beginning, and at the end, Tanios has chosen to disappear. Perhaps, like all heroes who have disappeared, he will one day return to save his people
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on 20 October 2014
I really like it. Maalouf's narrative is beautiful. It is like to be inside the story and the ending leave the reader with a sensation of melanchony and magic at the same time.
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on 16 January 2013
A book recommended by a friend. Excellent in every way! Will be looking for more books by this author in the near future!
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