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The story opens in the City of Peace, as Baghdad was once called. It is a fabulously wealthy city, receiving tribute from an empire that stretches from modern day Afghanistan to Spain. Abulhassan Ibn Thaher is an old pharmacist and alchemist who is an intimate friend of the Sultan. When the young prince of Persia falls in love with Schemselnihar, the Sultan's beloved mistress, they beg Abulhassan to help them elope. Even though it could mean death for all of them, Abulhassan relents and agrees to help. As rumor and gossip spread, different factions at court try to use the impending scandal for their own ends, and the story climaxes with the lovers' flight into the desert. With engaging characters and rich imagery drawn from alchemy, the Koran, and the early Islamic mystics, The Angel with A Hundred Wings is a literary masterpiece that captures all the magic and romance of the Middle East once upon a time.
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Daniel Horch was born and raised in New York City. In the fall of 1999 he moved to São Paulo, Brazil. He does some translations, but mostly he just lives cheaply and writes fiction.
First-time novelist Horch offers a lively rendition of this tale from the Arabian Nights, set in 9th-century Baghdad, then called the City of Peace. Abulhassan Ibn Thaher, an elderly pharmacist and alchemist, is a confidant and chess partner of the sultan Harun al-Rashid. He finds himself in an impossible position when the prince of Persia falls madly in love with the sultan's favorite mistress, Shemselnehar, and asks the old man to help them run away. All three face certain death if the plot is discovered, and this is quite likely in a city and royal court full of spies, where everyone knows everyone else's business. Much like a chess match, the plot is driven by advances and retreats, surprising strategies and much suspense. The writing is evocative and the story fast-paced; memorable and truly likable characters enrich Horch's gripping adventure story. As the novel progresses, Abulhassan realizes that he has not lived his life as wisely as he could have; he has not treated his wife and children with the love and respect they deserve. Struck by remorse, he redoubles his efforts and risks everything to aid the young lovers. Woven throughout the book are fascinating asides about alchemy and Islamic mystics. An imaginative and vivid retelling, this novel should interest both Arabian Nights fans and newcomers looking for a diverting historical suspense tale.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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