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Shadow of the Swords: An Epic Novel of the Crusades Paperback – June 22, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The bloodshed of the Third Crusade is vividly portrayed in Pasha's second novel (Mother of All Believers), an excellent swords and sandals saga that takes in the action from an early Islamic perspective. Richard the Lionheart leads the armies of the European Crusaders, while Saladin commands the Muslim forces in Palestine. Both men are cunning and ruthless, and both are victims of the wiles of a beautiful young Jewish woman's plotting—one man as her lover, the other as an enemy. Miriam is the niece of Maimonides, Saladin's trusted physician, and she has the power and will to thwart one man's plans and save the kingdom of the other. This is a suspenseful, action-packed historical filled with intrigue, treachery, revenge, massive atrocity, and gory scenes of battlefield butchery. Best, however, is Pasha's clear depictions of Saladin's and Richard's astute political and military leadership styles as they rally their forces to fight yet another religious war neither would win. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Two outsized legends of the Crusades—Richard the Lionheart and Saladin—face one another once again, this time as mortal men in this intelligent, incisive portrait of the quintessential east-west conflict.”
—Margaret George, bestselling author of The Memoirs of Cleopatra
“A ripping, action-crammed yarn, Shadow of the Swords puts us smack into the Crusades, making this period new and visceral and riveting. Kamran Pasha is a powerful new voice in historical fiction.”
—Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire
"Forget everything you think you know about the Crusades. In this gorgeously wrought tale, Kamran Pasha depicts the other side of the legendary struggle with startling modern relevance. His unexpected vision of charismatic Saladin, tortured Richard the Lionheart, and the proud woman who comes between them is passionate, gilded with detail, and steeped in the blood and thunder of two antagonistic faiths, vying for possession of a beleaguered land. A triumph from start to finish!"
—C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
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In this day and age of so much conflict between some followers of the Abrahamic traditions, I welcome this historical novel by Kamran Pasha. Between the actual historical personages and the fictional characters that Mr. Pasha creates, his imagination weaves an intricate yet comprehensible picture of the the third crusade, and its resonance down to the present day.
While there is a plethora of history texts that provide portraits of Saladin and Richard, I found it refreshing that Kamran creatively added new dimensions to these two figures, dimensions that expanded our appreciation of their heart and their humanity.
Miriam, the character that Kamran invented to carry part of this story, forms a brilliant centerpiece through whose intelligence and beauty these two men are engaged with a passion and love that each man no doubt possessed, but that is largely absent from their historical portrayals.
I did not read this book expecting a dry, historical account. And, thank God, that is not what I got when I read it.
Dammit Jim, this is a novel, not a history of courtly dance steps!
Kamran Pasha initially wrote a manuscript as a reaction to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Eventually the manuscript turned into a novel, as the movie never happened.
What I found unique about the story, is that even though he mainly told the story through the Muslim perspective, we were still able to see the Christian side of the story, thus elimination the cliched Good vs. Evil associated with wars. Stories from both sides were told. It was refreshing and enjoyable, and at times, I've discovered that I've been reading for five hours straight. The only reason I wasn't constantly reading the book is because I'm a easily distracted person.
Saladin is seen as the ideals associated with Islam, all the virtues and chivalry. When Richard lost his horse during battle, Saladin presented him his own horse as a replacement. Also, when the foolhardy king was dying from the camp illness, the Sultan sent in his own personal doctor to heal his enemy.
While Richard is less sympathetic than Saladin, and a bit immature at times with his personal choices, the author created the character Sir William Chinon, based on actual historical figure William des Roches, as the symbol for the ideal Christian who never sways from his beliefs even under pressure of power, greed, or revenge.
I would not read this book for the historical inaccuracies, but simply for the plot, the characters, and the overall story that left me unable to put the book down. Those of you who are picky about historical accuracy, don't expect this book to be the one for you.
What is really interesting about this book is how Kamran has shown there is good in every religion, and how everyone ultimately wants peace.
As the story progresses, the reader will get sucked into the the main characters, and how the events leading up to the battle over Jerusalem takes over all Muslim, Jewish, and Christian parties involved. I think what I liked the most was how Kamran showed that each religion has good in it, and how if we just respected each others thoughts and views, we could all live as peace loving neighbors.
If you are a fan of historical figures, you will surely like this book. Highly recommend it!!
I cannot begin to express how profoundly I was affected by this book.