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The Islam Quintet: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo, and Night of the Golden Butterfly

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The five novels of the acclaimed Islam Quintet, together in one volume Celebrated journalist and author Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet takes readers from the streets of medieval Muslim Spain to twenty-first-century London and Lahore. At once a meditation on the millennia-spanning clash of Islam with the West and a series of riveting fictions, these five works are a The five novels of the acclaimed Islam Quintet, together in one volume Celebrated journalist and author Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet takes readers from the streets of medieval Muslim Spain to twenty-first-century London and Lahore. At once a meditation on the millennia-spanning clash of Islam with the West and a series of riveting fictions, these five works are a compelling portrait of worlds in conflict and the lives lived between them.


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The five novels of the acclaimed Islam Quintet, together in one volume Celebrated journalist and author Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet takes readers from the streets of medieval Muslim Spain to twenty-first-century London and Lahore. At once a meditation on the millennia-spanning clash of Islam with the West and a series of riveting fictions, these five works are a The five novels of the acclaimed Islam Quintet, together in one volume Celebrated journalist and author Tariq Ali’s Islam Quintet takes readers from the streets of medieval Muslim Spain to twenty-first-century London and Lahore. At once a meditation on the millennia-spanning clash of Islam with the West and a series of riveting fictions, these five works are a compelling portrait of worlds in conflict and the lives lived between them.

30 review for The Islam Quintet: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, The Book of Saladin, The Stone Woman, A Sultan in Palermo, and Night of the Golden Butterfly

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    These are five discrete novels unlike Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, Galsworthy's Forsyte Chronicles, or Trollope's Barchester Chronicles and, as such, can certainly be read as stand-alones. The reader will surely prefer some stories more than others. The Stone Woman was the least satisfying for me. The author is better known as a journalist, non-fiction writer, and documentary filmmaker, and the reader will not find the beautiful literary prose of a Paul Scott with his elegant phrasing and subtle cha These are five discrete novels unlike Paul Scott's Raj Quartet, Galsworthy's Forsyte Chronicles, or Trollope's Barchester Chronicles and, as such, can certainly be read as stand-alones. The reader will surely prefer some stories more than others. The Stone Woman was the least satisfying for me. The author is better known as a journalist, non-fiction writer, and documentary filmmaker, and the reader will not find the beautiful literary prose of a Paul Scott with his elegant phrasing and subtle changes in tone. However, I enjoyed these stories as portrayals of Islam in different locations and historical periods.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This isn't an author I was familiar with and I enjoyed reading these stories in Spain where the back and forth of history is really evident. These are about people on the edges of change and how they with it. The stories in the book quintet series (about Muslim communities on the fringes of Islamic culture/society and their relationships with non-Muslims they are in contact with--throughout five different times and places) are in general I think NOT familiar to most readers. And they should be. This isn't an author I was familiar with and I enjoyed reading these stories in Spain where the back and forth of history is really evident. These are about people on the edges of change and how they with it. The stories in the book quintet series (about Muslim communities on the fringes of Islamic culture/society and their relationships with non-Muslims they are in contact with--throughout five different times and places) are in general I think NOT familiar to most readers. And they should be. Ali has chosen fascinating times to write about and the history is good and pretty compelling in terms of education about why and how societies change. I can't say much for the characters and there is a lot of interest in bodily functions. The plot developments of all the books aren't of much interest to me, but they aren't boring. And they allow for a great education regarding these "edges" of empire history. I think there is something lost in translation here, since Ali's first book won a literary prize in Spain.... I'm willing to acknowledge that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    16 JUL 2020 - end of Book 1. Truth ... I was offended by the remarks made regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. But, I took a deep breath and continued on. I am glad I did - this family's story is interesting and worth reading about. I will start Book 2 on Saturday, 18 JUL 2020. 21 JUL 2020 - DNF of Book 2. No! The writing style is still good, the subject matter - Saladin - is interesting. However, this Book 2 is not one which I care to continue. I thought this would be an education on Saladin; inst 16 JUL 2020 - end of Book 1. Truth ... I was offended by the remarks made regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. But, I took a deep breath and continued on. I am glad I did - this family's story is interesting and worth reading about. I will start Book 2 on Saturday, 18 JUL 2020. 21 JUL 2020 - DNF of Book 2. No! The writing style is still good, the subject matter - Saladin - is interesting. However, this Book 2 is not one which I care to continue. I thought this would be an education on Saladin; instead, Book 2 provides me with affairs of the heart between everyone (and I do mean everyone). I am not a prude - I just do not want to read about bestiality! No! On to Book 3. 31 JULY 2020 - I am giving up on my reading of The Islam Quintet. It is just not for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    The first four books were truly superb, hence the five-star rating. They were magnificent evocations of Islamic life at different times and places in history, complete with all its richness and thoughtfulness. For those alone, I'd highly recommend the series. The fifth book, however, was a huge disappointment: the contemporary setting and unappealing characters were like a Pakistani take on Salman Rushdie, but without the charm. You can skip it, and you won't have missed anything. The first four books were truly superb, hence the five-star rating. They were magnificent evocations of Islamic life at different times and places in history, complete with all its richness and thoughtfulness. For those alone, I'd highly recommend the series. The fifth book, however, was a huge disappointment: the contemporary setting and unappealing characters were like a Pakistani take on Salman Rushdie, but without the charm. You can skip it, and you won't have missed anything.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sekhar N Banerjee

    Not bad Except for the last book, the other four books were not a bad read. The last book, I could not finish and gave up about half way. Of all these, the fourth one, Sultan of Palermo, I liked best - it closely follows the accepted history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Romanow

    These are historical fiction featuring real people who can be found in history books, during the last couple of centuries of Islamic Empire. They are thoroughly romantic, and Islam positive novels that will appeal to the Islamic disapora, starved of positive imagery of their faith and history. That said the novels offer a curiously colonial in viewpoint. Ali appears to believe the conquered peoples of Europe thought the Caliphate just a bunch of wonderful guys and had no grievance - that indeed t These are historical fiction featuring real people who can be found in history books, during the last couple of centuries of Islamic Empire. They are thoroughly romantic, and Islam positive novels that will appeal to the Islamic disapora, starved of positive imagery of their faith and history. That said the novels offer a curiously colonial in viewpoint. Ali appears to believe the conquered peoples of Europe thought the Caliphate just a bunch of wonderful guys and had no grievance - that indeed the grievance is for the soon to be evicted conquered Faithful. This is a rather curious point of view given the Arabic and Middle Eastern determination to free themselves from Western domination currently. And it does rather elide over the sundry injuries and atrocities committed when conquering Spain for example, or expanding into France. That Christianity was capable of beastliness is unquestioned. But whether or not the courtly, sensitive educated knights stopped by Charles Martell were offering "civilization" to the conquered is certainly debatable. That the peoples of France and Spain could manage uprising and war against the Umayyad Dynasty seems to indicate all was not sweetness and light within Al Andalus.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    These five novels aren't perfect, but they're an excellent voyage through historical Islam (it's not all terrorists and mujahideen, people). My only criticism would be that, concerned as we know left wing political writer Ali is, he could have had more characters from the "common people." Ali's non-fiction is even better -- check it out. These five novels aren't perfect, but they're an excellent voyage through historical Islam (it's not all terrorists and mujahideen, people). My only criticism would be that, concerned as we know left wing political writer Ali is, he could have had more characters from the "common people." Ali's non-fiction is even better -- check it out.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nuri Septilianti

    good

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Currah

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

  12. 4 out of 5

    James

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary J Starry

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane Baima

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robin Hull hogg henley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Lodhi

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amador

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ginger A. Reeve

  20. 5 out of 5

    John West

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rick Runyan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert Newlands

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Rodgers

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rami

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim Pulling

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

  27. 4 out of 5

    John E Pritchard

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mr J Bense

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aaliyah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Neslihan

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