A Sultan in Palermo

A Sultan in Palermo:A Novel

  • Paperback

  • Paperback (2006)

    Regular price $16.95 Sale price $10.17
    Page redirects on selection
    Add to cart
    40% off
  • Hardback

    Regular price $24.00 Sale price $14.40
    Page redirects on selection
    Add to cart
    40% off

The fourth novel in Tariq Ali's 'Islam Quintet' charts the life and loves of the medieval cartographer Muhammed al-Idrisi. Torn between his close friendship with the sultan and his friends who are leaving the island or plotting a resistance to Norman rule, Idrisi finds temporary solace in the harem; but his conscience is troubled...
A Sultan in Palermo is a mythic novel in which pride, greed, and lust intermingle with resistance and greatness. Debunking myths about Oriental exoticism, it echoes a past that can still be heard today.


  • A richly woven tapestry that merits comparison with Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy.

    Kirkus Reviews
  • A twelfth-century geographer al-Idrisi had been told by his father of the twelve calligraphers
    who transcribed Arabic translations of al-Homa’s poetry, working under conditions of such
    secrecy that if they were even to reveal the nature of their work, ‘the executioner’s scimitar,
    in a lightning flash, would detach head from body’. But one of the calligraphers, undaunted,
    copied out parts of both al-Homa’s poems and sent them to his family in Damascus, along
    with the information that the complete manuscripts were in secret compartments in the
    library of Palermo. Generations later, al-Idrisi finds himself in the library at Palermo and,
    of course, discovers the secret compartment. …Whether the subject is heretical poetry, the
    disunity of the Arabs or the threat that laughter poses to those in power, these digressions
    only add to the richness of the novel’s texture. A marvellously paced and boisterously told
    novel of intrigue, love, insurrection and manipulation.