Sand Daughter

Written by Sarah Bryant
Review by Sara Wilson

In the late 12th century the Islamic world is in turmoil, torn apart by the Crusades, and the Holy Land has fallen into the hands of the Franks. Under the leadership of Salah ad-Din the Muslim peoples are preparing to fight off the invading armies.

In the desert an uneasy relationship exists between the two clans of the Hassan, a Bedouin tribe. Reconciliation is offered by the proposed marriage of Khalidah to her cousin, Numair, but her agreement will sign not only her own death warrant but also that of her tribe. Offered the chance of escape by the mysterious minstrel Sulayman, the young noblewoman doesn’t hesitate to ride with him to the homelands of her mother – the legendary Qaf – to seek the help of the mysterious Afghan warriors known as the Jinn.

She leaves behind her childhood friend, Bilal, who throws in his lot first with Numair before being recruited as a spy by the Templar Knights and becoming the lover of Salim, the Sultan’s sixth son. They will be reunited on the battlefield when the fight will be for more than local politics – it will be for Islam itself.

Sand Daughter is a fascinating snapshot into the world of the Crusades. 12th century Arabia is beautifully recreated, but this is ultimately a story about people and not places. Thankfully, Sarah Bryant provides characters to care about a-plenty. Not just a love story, a thriller, or a straight historical but rather an impressive blend of all three.

The author’s research is impeccable and applied with the lightest of touches. This is an epic filled with emotion and rich with atmosphere – as heady as the hashish smoke swirling around the desert tents.