In The Book Of Saladin, Tariq Ali goes back a few centuries from his first book, Shadows Of The Pomegranate Tree. This second novel in Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet is set in the 12th Century and is narrated by Ibn Yakub, a Jewish scribe retained by Saladin to pen his memoirs.
As the name suggests, The Book Of Saladin revolves around Saladin, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty and the Sultan of Egypt and Syria. As most people know, Saladin’s biggest achievement was the recapture of Jerusalem from the Crusaders and its defense against subsequent invasions. Tariq Ali has done an excellent job in portraying Saladin’s character. Saladin is not your average, run-of-the-mill brave King who dashes off into danger without a second thought. Instead, Saladin is shown as a schemer and a planner who has only one objective in mind – the re-capture of Jerusalem from the Crusaders. A Kurd from the mountains, Saladin lives by the Kurd’s code of honour. He will do anything to honour his word. A simple man, he leads a non-ostentatious life, eats simple food and gives away most of his wealth to charity. He leads by example, albeit in a calculated manner. He avoids giving battle unless the conditions favour him. He is cruel only when necessary and treats his defeated adversaries generously. read more