Both historical and fictional characters populate a well-researched portrayal of the early Islamic era in this second installment in Chamberlin's The Sword and the Well trilogy. Building on The Woman and the Well, the author presents a broad view of a society in which the ascendancy of Islam is not yet complete. The narrative cuts between warrior Khalid the Conqueror and 12-year-old girl Rayah in a pre-Islamic era replete with superstition, polytheism, and blood feuds. The appearance of and references to Muhammad provide a vivid sense of the eruption of his doctrines on the society of the time, and of being an unknowing witness to history. Still, Chamberlin's approach is that of a novelist, not a theologian or historian, and readers interested in an imaginative rendering of this historical era should find this trilogy very rewarding.