Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Legend of the Wandering King

This novel by Laura Gallego Garcia is translated from Spanish. The main character is Prince Walid ibn Hujr of Kinda – he is a poet, a soldier, and an intellectual. He most wants to be chosen the best poet, but he cannot write better poetry than a poor weaver, Hammad ibn al-Haddad. Walid’s poetry does not have the “heart” of Hammad’s. The setting of the novel is ancient Arabia.

King Hujr gives his son some advice before he dies -- “We are all responsible for our actions, both for good and for evil. And life always returns to you what you give it…life makes us pay a price.” Walid’s envy and vengeful spirit sets the tone of his life. The Prince gives Hammad the job of historian – organizing all the manuscripts and creating a rug that has the history of mankind woven into it. (It is the hope that this will take his lifetime to complete.) This job eventually kills Hammad and thieves steal the carpet. Walid sets out to recover the stolen carpet – this becomes an obsession. The carpet has some very magical powers. Along the way he meets the sons of Hammad.

I really enjoyed reading this book! I began the book hating Walid, but by the end he had changed, and I had changed my mind about him.



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