From his chlidhood in Fez, having fled the Christian Inquisition, through his many journeys to the East as an itinerant merhcant, Hasans story is a quixotic catalogue of pirates, slave girls and princesses, encompassing the complexities of a world in a state of religious flux. Hasan too is touched by the instability of the era, performing his hadj to Mecca, then converting to Christianity, only to relapse back to the Muslim faith later in life. In re-creating his extraordinary experiences, Amin Maalouf sketches an irrisistible portrait of the Mediterranea world as it was nearly five centuries ago - the fall of Granada, the Ottoman conquest of Egypt, Renaissance Rome under the Medicis: all contribute to a background of spectacular colour, matched only by the picaresque adventures of Hasan's life.
The most entertaining education we could wish for...Leo the African is a celebration of the romance and power of the Arab world, its ideals and achievements - Daily Telegraph * Maalouf's fiction offers both a model for the future and a caution, a way towards cultural understanding and an appaling measure of the consequences of failure. He is a voice which Europe cannot afford to ignore - Guardian *