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Easy and light historical fiction
on 26 May 2010
This is the fourth installment of Tariq Ali's Islam's Quintet.
I have only read the much lauded Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree in the same series, and I must say that the writin style remains simple, the plots simplistic and the language corny at times, particularly when describing the sex scenes, though I suspect that is on purpose.
This novel centers around the historical figure of Philip of Mahdia during the kingdom of Roger II in Sicilly durint the XII century. Around the events of the last days of Philip's life, Mr Ali builds a a series of morally dubious characters with the cartographer Idrisi in the main role that carry the story forward and show us details of the comparatively advanced arabic civilisation relative to its christian counterpart.
Much like Shadows... this book feels simple, easy to read and perhaps would have benefitted by a more detailed exploration of the conflicts between christians and muslims, which are only really hinted at. I can't help but feel that these books could have easily been 100 or 150 pages longer without losing any of their appeal. In fact, I think they would have benefitted from it and reached a wider audience.