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on 28 January 2006
This tale of a muslim family facing the 'reconquest' of Spain by the Christian rulers is a compelling read that combines a number of threads, as we follow the idealistic oldest son, the hero-worshipping younger son, and a number of particularly strong female characters, in their reactions to the threat of forced conversions.
The reactions vary, and are treated without judgement, in a style that is surprisingly plain and without hyperbole. In some ways it would be good to have a more vivid picture of this little-described age of Moorish Spain, but the clarity leaves the story to force itself through without being muddied. An enjoyable story that makes you seek out the sequels.
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on 26 March 2017
Good book.
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on 26 January 2010
I heard about this book earlier this year (2010) when Mr Ali was awarded the Granadillo award in my natal Granada. I listened to his speech and was curious about his book, so I want and bought it.

It clearly shows that Mr Ali was in Granada while writing this book. The geographic and historical places are accurately described and positioned.

The book tells the story of a muslim family in the reconquered Granada, faced with the three possibilites every muslim faced at the time: convert to christianism, leave the peninsula or die fighting. Different members of the family choose different paths and the drama is served. As a background to the dilemma they face, there are dark secrets in the family that we discover as we read. However, all this only takes place over 240 pages. The characters lack depth and events, family deaths and the unravelling of hidden secrets happen too quickly.

It is also worth mentioning that the author has his own agenda here, as it is his right given that it is his book. The one page epilgue bears no relationship to the whole story. It almost seems like a cheap jab at the cruelties commited by the Conquistadores in America.

To my mind, the book would have benefitted greatly by a more extended portrayal of characters and emotions. Granada post the reconquest was a unique melting pot of cultures at the hub of events that would shape Europe in the coming centuries, which is why I think the reader deserves more.
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on 29 March 2000
A book which I can only describe as very human - the tale about a family's survival and dilemmas in Moorish Spain goes far beyond that. It is a tale of love and pain, of discovery and strength, of deception and honour. The book is beautifully written with humour and style, but always with the foreboding of a heartbreaking tragedy. I would recommend it very highly and am about to embark on the second book in the series!
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on 15 October 2005
Having just read Kagen's Spanish Inquisition, it was a joy to read this sensitive story of a noble Spanish muslim family embroiled in the final conquest of Granada. Tariq Ali writes beautifuly and this story has everything, love, wisdom, humour, poetry and tragedy. I was impressed how closely the story follows the known events and characters of the time. Tariq Ali puts human faces to this calamatous period of Spanish history through his very well drawn characters.
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on 15 October 2005
Having just read Kagen's Spanish Inquisitiion it was a joy to read this sensitive story of a noble Spanish muslim family embroiled in the final conquest of Granada. Tariq Ali writes beautifuly and this story has everything, love, wisdom, humour, poetry and tragedy. I was impressed how closely the story follows the known events and characters of the time. Tariq Ali puts human faces to this calamatous period of Spanish history through his well drawn characters.
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on 1 August 2016
It gets 4* rather than 5* as no book about this era can beat Leo The African by Amin Malouf. However it was a well-written novel, and beautifully depicts the post fall of Granada in splendid detail. DO NOT READ FURTHER AS THERE MAY BE SPOILERS!!!!************There were so many characters and interwoven stories I wasn't sure who my hero was. It was a toss up between the older or younger brother until the end revealed all.
I love the humanity of all the characters, their flaws the fact that the practice of Islam centuries ago in Moorish Spain was about traditions and human desire too. I loved the female characters; Aunt Zara was my favorite because she was a rebel. What the heck happened to Tio Miguel at the end? I don't understand where he disappeared too. Very much liked the depictions of the Chrisitan side including evil monk Cisnero, the father of the Spanish Inquisition and the those KKK white hats!!!
It is a historical, epic, family saga and ultimately makes very clear how horribly Muslims and Jews were treated post the fall of Granada. The atrocities and humongous tragedy of what Muslims and Jews had to sacrifice are just way too painful to comprehend. It was a genocide we rarely talk about and something shamelessly ignored by many English-speaking historians. Wiped from the history books.
I am currently reading The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones and El Manuscrito Carmesi by Antonio Gala both Spanish writers who have not the wiped the history books with their Christendom version of Moorish Spain. There is a lot to be learned from this novel and parallels with today.
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on 14 February 2009
Splendind!! Tariq Ali a very gifted and distinguished writer re-creates the lost Islamic Spain. He has given to the world what the Spanish inquisition has taken away from us. You almost feel for the characters of the book about the troublesome times they had to endure without any help from anywhere and were left to fend for themselves. I recommend this very highly.
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on 9 November 2014
I picked this book up in islamabad after a discussion about the hopeless situation in the islamic world in general and pakistan in particular.

On one level the book recounts the trials faced by a muslim family during the time spain was ethnically cleansing itself of all islamic remnants.

However bad we think things are now for the muslims it is not as baf as the spanish inquisition.

The book presents three options in facing tyranny:

1. Submit to the humiliation and btray your faith

This has already been done by many of the muslim leadrrs who are letting the enemy use sovereign soil to conduct drone attacks on fellow citizens.

2.fight an unwinnable battle.

3.adopt tactics which more inhuman than your enemy.

A very interesting read.
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on 14 September 2014
Absolutely fascinating. Although written at least twenty two years ago (first published 1992) it has become very relevant to the present time in the middle east, although everything is now in reverse of the time that this was set, and more global now. If you read it you will see what I mean. I shall read the other three in the series with great anticipation. It's a bit like "Animal Farm" in as much as you read it as a novel but you are having a history lesson almost without realising it. Go on, read it!!!!!
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