The Book of Saladin

The Book of Saladin:A Novel

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Second book of the internationally acclaimed Islamic Quintet

The Book of Saladin is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub. Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might present a full portrait in the Sultan's memoirs. A series of interconnected stories follows, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humor and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires.
The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. This is a medieval story, but it uncannily points to contemporary events in Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad.


  • Grippingly told, brilliantly paced, remarkably convincing in its historical depiction of a fateful relationship, it is a narrative for our time, haunted by distant events and characters who are closer to us than we had dreamed.

    Edward Said
  • Ali overturns demonising stereotypes of Salah-al-din, portraying instead the 'barbarian' Western invaders. Whether depicting erotically charged harem intrigue of siege warfare, it is an entertaining feat of revisionist storytelling.

    Sunday Times
  • Combines the incantatory storytelling of the great Middle Eastern anthologies with the solidarity of historical research.

    Philip HensherMail on Sunday