The Book of Saladin – Islam Quintet II

Published by Verso, 1999

The second installment the epic five volume series of historical novels, The Islam Quintet

A rich and teeming chronicle set in twelfth-century Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem, The Book of Saladin is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub.

Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might portray a complete picture of him in his memoirs. A series of nterconnected stories follow, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humour and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires. At the heart of the novel is an affecting love affair between the Sultan’s favoured wife, Jamila, and the beautiful Halima, a later addition to the harem.

The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares, in alliance with his Jewish and Christian subjects, to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. It is a medieval story, but much of it will be cannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unreliable alliances form the backdrop to The Book of Saladin.

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Reviews:  Epic India

From the archive

  • ‘Anyone for gulli-danda?’

    July 15, 1999

    ‘Anyone for gulli-danda?’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books, July 15, 1999

    The cricket matches I grew up with in the Indian subcontinent during the Forties and Fifties lasted five days. The players were dressed in immaculate white or off-white flannels, the ball was dark red and the spectators were well-dressed and sedate. It was no different in the West Indies: English cricket was everywhere the model. Our heroes were the great English batsmen and bowlers of the time. There were great Australians, too, but, we joked, they were only Englishmen twice removed—once from prison and once from England. read more

  • ‘How do the 99% compare with mass protests of the past – and can they succeed?’

    October 25, 2011

    ‘How do the ninety-nine percenters compare with mass protests of the past – and can they succeed?’, by Tariq Ali for the Sunday Herald, October 23 2011

    “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth glancing at,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.” The spirit of that 19th century socialist is alive among the idealistic young people who have come out in protest against the turbo-charged global capitalism that has dominated the world ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The Occupy Wall Street protesters who have taken up residence at the heart of New York’s financial distract, are demonstrating against a system of  …

  • Tariq Ali: From Cairo to Madison

    March 24, 2011

    From Cairo to Madison: The Arab Revolution and a World in Motion

    Join renowned author Tariq Ali at Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space for a discussion of the global implications of the revolts shaking North Africa and the Middle East.

    This is a free event open to the public—doors at 7pm, talk at 8pm.

    PLEASE REGISTER TO ATTEND

    Brought to you by Haymarket Books and Verso Books.

    Tuesday May 17th 7.00pm – 10.00pm Galapagos Art Space 16 Main Street, DUMBO Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States