I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Shadow of the Swords by Kamran Pasha
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2010-06-22
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Literary
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An epic saga of love and war, Shadow of the Swords tells the story of the Crusades—from the Muslim perspective.Saladin, a Muslim sultan, finds himself pitted against King Richard the Lionheart as Islam and Christianity clash against each other, launching a conflict that still echoes today. In the midst of a brutal and unforgiving war, Saladin finds forbidden love in the arms of Miriam, a beautiful Jewish girl with a tragic past. But when King Richard captures Miriam, the two most powerful men on Earth must face each other in a personal battle that will determine the future of the woman they both love—and of all civilization. Richly imagined, deftly plotted, and highly entertaining, Shadow of the Swords is a remarkable story that will stay with readers long after the final page has been turned.
The Middle Ages are my favorite era in history to study. Right now, I should tell you I majored in social studies education. I took as many classes on the medieval period as I could, because I find it fascinating. You’ve got religious elements, social change, trade, battles, some major historical players, oh heck yeah the Middle Ages are cool. So, when I was offered The Shadow of the Swords by Kamran Pasha, I jumped at the opportunity as a large part of the book focuses on Saladin, who is a military genius and completely fascinating.
The Shadow of the Swords is adult historical fiction set during the Crusades, when it came down to Richard The Lionheart vs. Saladin. With my inclination, The Shadow Of The Swords should have set me on the edge of my seat, however, I think I may have read it at the wrong time for me. First, I wasn’t really in the mood to read it, but I did anyway, you know pressure and all. Second, I’ve been reading straight YA, and it is really hard to transition into adult fiction when you are used to books going at breakneck speed.
The beginning of Shadow Of The Swords starts off with a main character who was not a real person in history. Her name is Miriam and she is Jewish. She’s traveling across the Middle East with her parents when all of a sudden Crusaders come upon their caravan and kill her parents and then rape her. After that, we flash forward to about 10 years in the future. Saladin is in charge of Israel, and Richard the Lionheart has just been made king. Richard is not a big fan of Muslims and wants to reclaim the Holy Land. He also wants to cement his throne, since his brother John wants to be king too. (Also, guys, John really has a bad rap, but actually he just did the best he could, I mean COME ON, Richard drained the treasury, of course taxes had to be raised).
And so, of course, these characters interweave. Battles are had. As is love. And sexytimes. I’ll admit, I liked the parts with Marian, she was pretty cool. Very headstrong, however she was constantly described as being hot with her milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard, which sort of got old after the 4th time. But, I did like her ingenuity and the fact that she enjoyed reading in a time when not a whole lot of people were literate. Also, she was sexually liberated, in that she has sex for fun and her enjoyment. Again, I like that. As for historical accuracy, I am not too sure that is an accurate portrayal of women during this time. I mean, from my love sex and marriage in the middle ages class we learned people were all about chastity and if they were getting it on, it was with hookers, not with an upper class woman, like Miriam. But, it may have been different in Israel.
As for Saladin, he is so beyond cool. I mean, the man treats his war prisoners like guests instead of criminals. He is generous. He’s got a great head for military. He is calm. He’s also peaceful and tolerant of other religions. Now, of course the peaceful disappears when his land is attacked. I suppose that is when all bets are off. Either way, I did enjoy reading all that focused on him.
Finally, Richard. I found him to be an insufferable twit. He’s so narrow-minded and cruel. I think this may have been on purpose. However, I could not wait for his parts to be over. I know history paints him as a hero, but really, I am not a fan. Personally, I like his father, Henry II best out of all the Angevins.
While I should have loved Shadow Of The Swords, I slightly liked it. Now, I don’t think that is the book’s fault, rather it is mine for reading it when I wasn’t really feeling in the mood for it.