Dunne, Jan 2004, 13.95, 260 pp.
In the ninth century in Baghdad elderly alchemist Abulhassan is confronted with a dilemma. A confidant of his chess partner and best friend the Sultan, Abulhassan has been asked by the Prince of Persia, who he mentored like a son, to aid young love. The Prince and the sultan's favorite mistress, the independent Shemselnehar, have fallen in love. They know that if they are to share happiness they must flee to the Western Kingdoms of the vast empire. Only the alchemist has a chance to get them out of town, but he would have to risk his life and betray his friend.
Abulhassan believes they ask too much of him as he knows that the chances of success are nil with so many informers lining the city. Still he reflects on his own life and knows he has not treated his own family with the love and nurturing people deserve. Because of his guilt at his own failures, Abulhassan decides to assist the young lovers in their attempt to find happiness together.
This is a great tale filled with a very exciting but rocky path towards freedom as the plan does not implement smoothly. The prime trio is unique individuals each facing remorse yet embracing love. Insight into early Islam and Dark Ages alchemy adds a deep historical base to the tale to include how much light existed in the so called Dark Ages in the Persian Empire. Readers will appreciate this strong historical tale of star-crossed lovers risking all for love.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner