The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

A king is so distraught over the infidelity of his wife that he vows to deflower a different virgin in his kingdom every night and have them beheaded in the morning and it seems no one can stop him except for a brave and clever young woman. King Sharyhar and King Shah Zaman are two brothers who rule their own kingdoms. The two brothers, though they lived very far apart and did not speak loved and missed the other. Finally, the elder brother Sharyhar could stand the distance no longer and consulted with his Wazir about setting out to visit his younger brother. The Wazir did not think it advisable that the elder King set forth from his kingdom on a journey to Shah Zaman as Sharyhar was the elder brother who had been left in charge of multiple kingdoms. It just would not do. Instead, the Wazir advised that Sharyhar send multiple treasures to his younger brother accompanied by a missive requesting Shah Zaman to organize a march to the elder brother's kingdom. The king agreed and the Wazir set forth to Shah Zaman's kingdom. After several weeks, he reached Shah Zaman and delivered the message to him. Overjoyed by the prospect of seeing his elder once more, Shah Zaman readily agreed and immediately made preparations to march. As King Shaman's party set out on their journey, Shah Zaman remembered he had left something in his palace he wanted to bring with her, so he turned around and headed back alone. When he entered his bedroom, he found his wife asleep in the arms of the cook. Full of rage, Shah Zaman drew his scimitar and cut the two of them in half and then returned to his camp and spoke not a word of what had just occurred. As his party journeyed forth, Shah Zaman had plenty of time to think over his wife's betrayal until it turned him sick and weakly, but still he would tell no one of what ailed him. King Sharyhar's Wazir did what he could but to little avail. At last, the party reached the kingdom of the elder brother and the elder could not help but notice his younger's yellow complexion but still, Shah Zaman would not admit to what troubled him, only excusing his condition as an effect of the fatigue of travel. Sharyhar saw to it that his brother's every wish was granted and that he was given the best of care. One day, Sharyhar decided to go hunting and attempted to persuade his brother to accompany him under the belief that it would raise his spirits but Shah Zaman declined, preferring instead to sit by the window overlooking a private courtyard and lament over his internal wound. No sooner had his brother left, then his brother's wife entered the courtyard accompanied by 20 or so concubines. The queen called out, “Here to me, O my lord Saeed!” and one of the slaves also accompanied by his own entourage appeared in the courtyard. The slaves and the queen and her concubines commenced to fraternize with each other. Shah Zaman was shocked that his brother's wife was also unfaithful and when his brother returned, not only revealed to him the cause of his own despondence but the infidelity of his brother's wife. Sharyhar was furious and decided he needed to witness this with his own eyes so he had his Wazir announce that he was going to be out of the kingdom for a time. Then he and his brother disguised themselves and hid in the courtyard where the Queen had her rendezvous with the slave. After seeing for himself that his brother spoke the truth, in despair and rage he and his brother decided to leave and travel until death took them both. They had traveled for some time and reached a lake that was inhabited by a beastly Jinn. When the two saw the Jinn they hid in a nearby tree. The Jinn had dragged something out of the water; a coffer and inside was a beautiful woman and she was the Jinn's wife. At length the Jinn fell asleep and the woman happened to notice the two hiding in the tree. She threatened to have the Jinn kill the two of them unless they both slept with her. The unhappily acquiesced and were let free and returned home. Convinced that there were no faithful women left in the world, King Sharyhar decided he would deflower a different virgin of the kingdom every night and in the morning have her beheaded, thus eliminating the possibility of her being unfaithful to him. The Wazir was given the unpleasant task of rounding up the virgins of the kingdom. Obviously, the kingdom ran out of virgins after a time and the Wazir's eldest daughter volunteered herself as the next virgin. The Wazir had no choice but to give in. So, his daughter Scheherazade spent the night with the king. After she had been deflowered, she asked if she could tell the king a story to help the both of them sleep and the king agreed. Scheherazade told the king a story but only the beginning of the story and then informed him if he wished the hear how the story ended he would have to wait until the following night. Curious, the king agreed to wait another night. The next night, Scheherazade told the ending of the previous night's story but in doing so introduced the beginning of yet another story. Again, she told the king if he wanted to hear how the story ended he would have to wait another night. And so the same routine went on for many nights. Scheherazade would tell the king a story but only finish it on the next night and the next night's story would lead into another one so the king had no choice but to keep her alive. After one thousand of one nights of the same, as Scheherazade finally told her last story the king realized that not only had Scheherazade given the king two sons, but she had remained faithful for their entire marriage thus far. Thus, the king saw the error of his ways, realized that he had been wrong about women and decided to let Scheherazade live and in true fairytale fashion they lived happily ever after for the rest of their lives, ruling the kingdom fairly. Although, they then no doubt had to deal with a serious lack of eligible, child bearing women for the over abundance of males.
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Best part of story, including ending: I liked the magical realism aspects of this story and I liked the character of Scheherazade using her intelligence to stop a madman from killing all the virgins in the kingdom. There's a nostalgia aspect to it as well; this was a book from my childhood although looking back, it was definitely not a book for children.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene is always right when Scheherazade begins to tell the first tale because I know what's to come, there's just so much anticipation and delight wrapped up in that moment.

Opinion about the main character: I liked Scheherazade's bravery and intelligence. As the daughter of the King's Wazir she wasn't included in the king's search for virgins but still chose t o sacrifice herself in order to save what was left of the virginal female population.

The review of this Book prepared by Kyle Spencer a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   ancient Egypt Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   marriage/relationship going to pieces Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   Arab/Muslim Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes Woman's story?    -   Yes Lover is    -   afraid of commitment Married, fooling around?    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   wealthy Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Arab Unusual characteristics:    -   Genius


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () Africa    -   Yes Kind of Africa:    -   Arabic Africa Desert?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   touching of anatomy Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Richard Burton Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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