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Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2018
We start in the 1070s, with a woman explaining to us something of Tuareg ways, the importance of women's jewelry and what it reveals about a woman's life.
Kella is a young woman of the Tuareg, and in 1067, at the age of seventeen, she is still passing as her father's youngest son, traveling with him and her five brothers, plying her considerable skills as a trader--and winning camel races.
It's that last that trips her up. Among the Tuareg, it's men and boys, not women and girls, who go veiled. Under a man's robes, and with her face veiled, she can pass as a boy. But when, near the end of a race, her veil becomes tangled and accidentally pulled off, she is exposed as female. It's a huge embarrassment not just to the men she beat in the race, but to her father. He had already been growing uncomfortable with letting her pass for a boy; this is the last straw. She will be returned to their home camp to, finally, learn women's skills from his sister, her Aunt Tezemt.
That's why, when the Commander of a great army and his cousin and chief general visit looking for recruits for a great plan of conquest of North Africa, Kella is in women's clothes and demonstrating her now considerable feminine skills.
But she still longs for the freedom of a trader's life.
What happens from here is both unexpected and, in its own way, logical.
Kella's life unfolds with pieces of jewelry marking each transition and new stage in life. She's intelligent, resourceful, but not so ruthless as some around her. This is an important period in Muslim history and the history of North Africa, with implications, in later books in the series, for the future of Spain, as well. The author has kept to the history that we do know, but there are large areas left undocumented, leaving plenty of room for this story. The two men who attract her interest are each in their own way both attractive and mostly good, yet not without flaws. The same is true of Kella herself, her family, and her friends.
It's an interesting story about a period of history that isn't familiar to most Americans, and to me at least, is more interesting because of that. Recommended.
I received a free electronic galley from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
Wow what a series, and what a great author! I love Addey's colourful descriptions of Morocco, she writes with heart and feeling and steeps the reader into the cultural feel of life in the Maghreb so beautifully! I am totally captivated by this series and had to read this book in one sitting as I just could not put it down. Kella is a young free woman of the Tuareg, the desert people, and she has spent the first sixteen years of her life travelling with her father and five brothers, dressed as a boy, trading and racing camels with the best of them! She is a strong hearted rebel and a fighter however she is forced to succumb to being trained into the woman's expected role by her aunt and is stopped from travelling the trade routes which she so loved. A Tuareg woman's worth is recognised from the amount and type of jewellery she owns and wears and this amazing story is told as Kella receives each piece of her jewellery! She embarks on a marriage which she believed would provide her with the freedom she sought yet her life takes a turn for the worse when Hela and Zaynab enter into her life! A life which suffers great loss, yet is never given up on! Well done Melissa Addey for this excellent series which has me so enamoured!
My literary love is 20th century historical fiction, but this magnificent novel — set in 11th century North Africa — has happily expanded my bookish horizons. The author thoroughly captivates with the story of Kella, a girl who dresses as a boy to compete in camel races and traverse exotic trade routes. Her gender is discovered, however, and she’s dispatched back home, schooled in the ways of Muslim woman of her era. Strong spirit that she is, Kella longs for more which she seeks through marriage with the general of an army engaged in holy war. Oh the adventures, the heartbreak, the risks this courageous woman takes for freedom and love, described in narrative as addictive as great cinema. 5 of 5 Breathtaking Stars!
I thank the author for the review copy and the great privilege of critiquing A STRING OF SILVER BEADS. Opinions are fully mine.
Kella was a rebellious young woman. All she ever wanted was to ride the trade routes with her father and brothers; to have the freedom of the open desert. But she has become too rebellious, too wild. When she races her camel against her father's express wishes, he forces her to return to the base camp, and to learn a woman's skills from her aunt.
Kella frets under the constraints of being a woman in the base camp. In a bold move, Kella attempts to escape the camp by riding off with the army of the famed general, Yusuf. But Kella is quickly discovered, and brought before Yusuf. Yusuf is impressed with Kella's bravery and her visions of the future.
Upon returning Kella to her father, Yusuf spins a tale of an overwhelming love, and so takes Kella as wife. In their journey to rejoin the army, Kella discovers she's expecting, and Yusuf's joy knows no bounds. But Fate intervenes, and Kella was left with empty arms and an empty heart. Yusuf had journeyed on, leaving Kella behind.
When Kella is to rejoin her husband, she discovers Yusuf is going to take a second wife; the former wife of the commander: Zaynab. Unable to arrive prior to the ceremony, Kella finds her life becomes more of a prison than ever before. All she ever wanted was to be free....
Riveting imagery, a complex and intricate plotline, this tale should be savored. There are many subtle shadings and twists, as you watch a young girl transform from a wild, feral child into a strong, steadfast woman who will do whatever it takes to protect her son and be free....
In this book, the Moorish Empire grows to include Marrakesh and Fez. This is a wonderful series to binge read. The history of Northern Africa was not covered in much detail outside of Egypt. The Moroccan Empire was always somewhat of a footnote. While this is fictionalized history, all of the pertinent details of the story are based on fact. The story has some folks that are just plain evil as well as some that were truly blessed. It is always more fun knowing that you are reading about things that really happened and not just imagined. I can't wait to read the next in the series. I received this book for free from the author and voluntarily chose to post my honest review.
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
I have read other historical novels by this author besides this one (the Forbidden City books). I love her writing! I find myself getting totally immersed in the storyline, the setting & the time period!! I also find myself getting tense as the plot gets more involved!! I thought the historical parts were very interesting with the Muslim culture, family dynamics & way of life. I really enjoy learning new things!! One thing I also really like are the strong female characters! I can't imagine living with the restrictions of being a woman of a different time period, culture & religion! I would recommend this book if you like historical novels & strong women characters! I received a free copy of this book & my opinion in this review is all my own!
Unique in its eleventh century North African setting and Moorish culture, Melissa Addey's story still shares many contemporary themes of women, their place in a society, and the conflicts that may arise when dreams beg to go beyond the cultural limitations. An extraordinary tale weaving historical figures and events not entirely common knowledge, I was fascinated and intrigued. The story is epic with power struggles, conflicts, relationships, but it's the rich characters that had me turning the page.
"Disclosure: I received an ARC. My review is voluntary with honest insights and comments."
This book like the first is set Morocco but the year is 1074 this is Kella story. Seeking freedom she disguises herself as a boy and travels the trade route yet she is discovered and sent home. Trouble arises for her when a very powerful woman becomes jealous of her. Ms. Addey writing on the wall coming down and the work that was done was interesting. Within the book, the author tells how Kella story changes with each tell going from truth to legion and perhaps a myth. There are some very sad parts to this one. Like the first book this is not a light-hearted work but it a masterful piece of writing. I did receive a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to review it
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2018
This author is new to me but I am hooked. This is a great story of women's struggles in history to make decisions in their life. I loved this story and hope to read more by this author. A very engaging story that kept me turning pages to the end!
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.