The Sword of Medina

Sherry Jones, Author Beaufort Books $24.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-8253-0520-7
This able novel, sequel to Jones's controversial bestseller The Jewel of Medina, continues to examine the history of Islam, a topic unfamiliar to most Americans. Jones imbues her 7th century tale with rich personalities and honorable motives, following a course of events that most Muslims can agree on, taking place between Muhammed's death and the reign of the first four Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Aside from the taboo of depicting a fictional Muhammed, Jones also skrits controversy with sexual tension between A'isha (child bride and favorite wife of Muhammed) and her cousin Talha, described with romance-novel breathlessness. Still, Jones largely sticks to what is known, rendering characters human without any irreverence. Sharing narration with A'isha is her brother-in-law Ali; the two tell vastly different versions of events, beginning with Muhammed's death and culminating in a battle led by A'isha against Ali. Jones handles skillfully the adversaries' peculiar combination of mutual respect and enmity; the rest of her fictionalized history comes alive with delicate, determined prose. Fortunately for readers, this volume was saved by Beaufort after Muslim extremists forced editors at Random House to pull the plug, making this not just a rollicking lesson in Islamic history but a victory over the forces of censorship.
Reviewed on: 10/12/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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