Synopses & Reviews
"A vindictive woman, political intrigue, and swashbuckling adventure define this first English translation of noted 19th century author Zaydan. Set in the 13th century after the Egyptians had defeated the Crusaders, Tree of Pearls, the late king's favored concubine, is made ruler of Egypt because she mothered the king's son. With her new power she rewards Shwaykar-her slave, confidante, and a glorious singer-with the hand of Rukn-al-Din, a handsome, valiant young prince. Although Tree of Pearls is a strong, ambitious woman, she is subject to shifting loyalties among her subjects, and Sallafa, a beautiful but spiteful concubine, uses her feminine wiles among influential men to dethrone the new queen. Not content with this feat, Sallafa sends Shwaykar to the Caliph in Baghdad. Zaydan then shifts focus from Egypt to the larger Arab world where personal and political feuds simmer under the looming threat of a Mongol invasion. Still jealous of the love between Shwaykar and Rukn al-Din, and unable to seduce the latter, Sallafa moves to Baghdad where she attempts a final act of vengeance. Zaydan's vibrant characters and lively story not only represent the turbulence of the period but continue to have relevance today.
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