Every Rising Sun

Holt. Jul. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9781250887078. $28.99. F
DEBUT Ahmed, who studied medieval Islamic history, does not pander to a Western audience in her debut novel, which includes many Arabic and Muslim terms. Shaherazade, of One Thousand and One Nights, famously told riveting tales to her ruthless husband, leaving a cliffhanger every evening to ensure her survival for another day. Ahmed retells this medieval Persian tale from Shaherazade’s first-person point of view. Shaherazade, the Vizier’s daughter, diverts her new husband, the Malik, with stories to save her life and insists on accompanying him on his crusades in order to advise him and use her guidance for the good of her kingdom—but she puts herself in peril by falling in love with one of the Malik’s soldiers. Using her wits and storytelling to influence those in power and shape important events, Shaherazade also is atoning for her past misdeeds. Stories within stories, fables and adventures involving magic and angels and demons; these tales that Shaherazade tells throughout Ahmed’s novel have a fairy-tale feel.
VERDICT With imaginative creativity and embellishment of its 12th-century Persia setting, this novel is a striking testament to the power of stories.
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