From Library Journal
Edward Fitzgerald's Victorian-era translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyaat profoundly influenced the West's perception (or misperception) of Persia. Lebanese author Maalouf tries to set the record straight in this fictional history of Omar's personal manuscript copy of the famous quatrains. The first half of the book introduces three world-historical Persians: Omar himself, a brilliant poet, mathematician, and astronomer; the vizier Nizam al-Mulk, a philosophical despot whose political theories anticipate Machiavelli; and the fanatical cult leader Hassan, who commands an invincible army of assassins from the mountain fortress of Alamut. In the second half, a wealthy collector miraculously recovers the lost manuscript and books passage home on the Titanic in celebration. Despite its exotic locales, this is a curiously dry historical novel from the author of the science fiction parable The First Year After Beatrice (Braziller, 1995). For larger fiction collections.?Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Maalouf's descriptions of the courts, the bazaar, the lives of mystics, kings and lovers are woven into an evocative and languid prose...and extraordinary book INDEPENDENT An example of the best type of historical fiction TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT Maalouf's fiction offers both a model for the future and a caution, a way towards cultural understanding and a appalling measure of the consequences of failure. His is a voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore. The Guardian
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