Saturday, May 31, 2008


I really enjoyed reading Mistress of the Art of Death which was engrossing to the end and full of memorable well drawn characters. 

I would issue a warning that on the website there is a mild spoiler in the book  group discussion section, and that some of the explicit sexual violence made this in my opinion a book for adults. 

I have now moved on to read the sequel The Death Maze [UK] or The Serpent's Tale [USA] and my review of this will appear in due course on Euro Crime.

'We are among barbarians, Simon.'............
Kindly barbarians, Simon said to her now. Fighting their own barbarity.'

I am not completely in agreement with the concept that Europe in the 12th century was totally  barbarian and that the only worthwhile knowledge was retained in the Kingdom of Sicily, the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim lands. 
We do owe our universities at Paris, Bologna and Oxford to the so called 'Dark Ages' and there were great scholars and thinkers in Europe such as the Venerable Bede 673-735, Alcuin 735-804 and Peter Abelard 1079-1143. 

The Medieval world was a complicated dangerous place whether you were Christian, Jew or Muslim.........hmm a bit like today. 

'Saladin had the same immediate successor as all the great Muslim leaders of his time : civil war. ...........
It took nine years of combat with innumerable alliances, betrayals and assassinations before the Ayyubid empire once again obeyed a single master.' 
from The Crusades Through Arab Eyes: Aamin Maalouf  


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