Top positive review
53 people found this helpful
on September 4, 2002
Where is the manuscript of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyaat? A once empty book made out of the white mulberry branches' pulp according to an old Chinese recipe. A blank book that was given to Khayam by a "qadi" who recognized his genius as a poet.
"Whenever a verse takes shape in your mind, or is on the tip of your tongue, just hold it back. Write it down on these sheets." The Rubaiyaat were born in Samarkand in 1072 A.D. The manuscript is claimed to have vanished on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
Maalouf spins fact and fiction and creates a fascinating tale of 11th-century Persia, with assassins and intrigues, and returns to it 900 years later through the eyes of an American searching for the manuscript.
This has got to be one of the more engaging historical fiction books I have ever read. Maalouf did an excellent and very thorough research. The text flows very nicely and the language is exquisite. It is what I call a rich book... A tale of war, politics, friendship, and betrayal. A tale of poetry and philosophy and of course history. It was such a sumptuous read, I was devouring all the details about the places such as Samarkand, Isfahan, Tabriz and about the characters Khayyam of Nishapur, Nizam al Mulk, and Hassan Sabbah, the founder of the Order of the Assassins, among many others.
Two exotic tales of romance between Khayyam and Jahan; and centuries later
between Benjamin and his Persian Princess, Shireen.
The suspenseful adventure tale of finding the manuscript is interwoven with a love story between Benjamin and Shireen and concludes with a final verse uttered. I think it best describes this book...
"You ask what is this life so frail, so vain
`Tis long to tell, yet will I make it plain
`Tis but a breath blown from the vastly deeps,
And then blown back to those same deeps again."
Maalouf kept me intrigued and thirsty for more and more. I couldn't quench my thirst any better that when I read the final words " Today I wonder: Did she exist?" So poignant, so beautiful right up to the last page.
I highly recommend this book and.. to the readers who are thinking of reading it...Here's a taste..
"Travelers are too great a rush these days, in a rush to arrive - whatever it takes. But you do not arrive only at your destination. At every step of the journey you arrive somewhere and with every step you can discover a hidden facet of our planet. All you have to do is look, wish, believe and love."
So do begin this Journey.. a Journey to another world.. another space and time..
This is a book to indulge yourself into. Just go with the flow and you'll soon be absorbed by it's magical aura.