Sand Daughter

Written by Sarah Bryant

This is the first U.S. release of Sand Daughter, originally published in 2007 in the U.K. It is a sweeping tale carrying the reader from the deserts of 12th-century Palestine to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Sand Daughter is the story of two great romances. Khalidah, daughter of an Arab sheikh, ties her destiny to the minstrel, Sulayman. Together they flee the tribe and weather the hazards of the treacherous journey to Qaf, home of the Jinn and of Khalidah’s maternal clan. She leaves behind her childhood friend, Bilal, who is forced into the service of Gérard de Ridefort as a spy in Salah ad-Din’s camp, that is, until he meets and falls in love with Salim, Salah ad-Din’s son. These are beautiful, intertwined stories of young lovers caught in the politics and battles of the Second Crusade.

But all is not love and heartbreak in this near 500-page saga. Reynald de Chatillon’s treachery is faithfully recounted, as are his and de Ridefort’s roles in precipitating the treacherous battle of Hattin. The author weaves together fiction and history skillfully even giving Khalidah and Sulayman a crucial role at Hattin which I will not spoil – nor the fate of Bilal and Salim. All comes together in the mythical land of Qaf, a utopian mountain valley where males and females live in pastoral harmony. All train as superb warriors who serve in a mercenary army dedicated to helping others in righteous causes. In describing the journey to Qaf and in retelling its myths the author takes the story into more serious territory, contemplating the role of religion and the nature of faith.

All in all, this is a very good book. It is endearing as a romance yet has enough action and history to satisfy Crusades enthusiasts. Confidently recommended!