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A top-notch historical novel that takes the reader into the life of Zaynab, a woman of legend. In Ms. Addey's version, Zaynab began her life as a naive, much-loved daughter, but through her life became ambitious, powerful, and deadly. This retelling of her life laces the minimum facts with fiction to create a story that will leave the reader engrossed in a world full of intrigue. The author's attention to detail of 11th century North Africa and insight into what may have made this incomparable woman into a queen with a thirst for power. Well done.
In A String of Silver Beads, we met Zaynab as the dangerous and powerful rival of Kella, Yusuf bin Tashfin's first wife. In None Such As She, we see Zaynab from her own point of view, starting as a child, just ten years old, when her own father takes a second wife. Child Zaynab is easy to like. She loves her parents. She's a rebellious child, happy to run and play with the street children when she can. She's bright and lively. She's fond of her servant Miryam, and wary of her mother's servant, Hela, who is a mistress of herbal medicine, and seemingly a scholar as only a man should be.
When Zaynab grows to an age where she's eligible for marriage, she's not comfortable with the way she is frankly assessed for her assets as a potential wife and bearer of children, as well as her father's wealth and connections are a successful rug merchant. Yet there is not avoiding it. In time, one of the men who comes to her father's dinner table is Yusuf bin Ali, a lord but not an amir, who speaks to her, she says, like a person. It's the start of her career.
She's made a mistake. Not a terrible one; Yusuf bin Ali is a good man. It's just too bad that she doesn't find out till too late that he has a first wife, who has already given him five sons. He loves that first wife, and is merely fond of Zaynab.
Her worst mistake is something she does in an attempt to secure Yusuf's interest in her.
By the time she meets Yusuf bin Tashfin, she is married to her third husband,who also has a first wife whom he loves. And that mistake she made all those years ago, with her first husband, is continuing to bear fruit, both good and bad. She wants a husband who loves her. She has a brilliant strategic mind. Yet with all her marriages, she has never been first in her husband's eyes.
And she has a brilliant strategic mind, but a damaged, unhappy heart.
This is the story of a complicated woman, who has every reason to think herself not a villain, and every reason for Kella and others around her to think she is a villain. It's compelling and fascinating.
I received a free electronic galley from the author via Booksprout, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
Roll back the sands of time to the 11th century in Northern Africa... There is none such as she. She is Zaynab a young girl who is raised in a home where she lacks for nothing except a nurturing mother. Her mother has a handmaid, Hela who is both mysterious & scary... Her father wants her to marry for love if that will make her happy. She picks a husband who seems perfect but becomes the second wife in his household with his heart belonging to his first wife who seems depressed. Such heartbreak for a young woman on the brink of womanhood! A series of events occur that the reader will get caught up in as her story unfolds witnessing how her life takes many directions! Some parts were hard for me to read like when she really suffered with her second marriage. I admired her persistence, strength, intelligence & will to keep on going! Hela, her mother's handmaid becomes her handmaid helping her navigate the difficulties in her adult life. This story is well told & I believe very well researched by the author. This time period in Northern Africa in the 11th century comes alive with descriptions of clothing, people, homes, cities & other cultural context showing a way of life I feel the author does an excellent job of bringing to life for us, the readers!
I did receive a complimentary copy from the author & all opinions in this review are my own.
This is Zaynab’s story. It is written of her that she was the most beautiful, intelligent and charming woman alive in the 11th century. She was queen consort to Yusuf who conquers North Africa and parts of Spain and built Marrakech for her. But although she gave him any children and was his right hand, he chose a slave girl’s child to be his heir. This is the third book in the Moorish series but can be read as a stand alone.
This a book chronicling the life of a remarkable woman and although fictional many aspects are based on historical facts. The narrative was great as it described in detail the environment in which the story takes, including the scenery, clothes, people and customs. It has amazing characters that draw you in. The story of a lifetime is hard to do but you really get a sense of what it would be like for an intelligent, beautiful and resourceful woman in history and the Muslim culture. I found myself transported to another time. I particularly found interesting the jealousy and the need for love that is no different for us today. The writing is very well done. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
This is the 3rd book in a four book series which takes us through the life of Zaynab, a young Tunisian girl from Kairouan, who is extremely beautiful and has many suitors vying for her hand, however she falls in love for a man from the far off lands of Morocco and she leaves her home and family behind to be with him, thinking that a love as great as hers was enough to see her through life. Little did she know how difficult life would become when she discovers that she is to be his 2nd wife and that he was still in love with his first wife. She fakes a vision and says that this vision showed her that her husband would become the greatest leader of the Maghreb, thinking that in doing so she would get the attention she so desperately needed, however this backfires. Instead she is given over to the Amir who was ambitious and extremely cruel, and wanted her for his wife. Zaynab’s life even though she is now Queen of Aghmat, goes from bad to worse but at least Hela, her mother’s handmaiden, returns into her life. With her she brings back the red wooden cup and things start to improve. However it takes four husbands before Zaynab’s lie becomes reality and still she is never number one in any of her husband’s lives. All she ever wanted was to be loved but no matter the roles she played, and the number of changes she made to herself to try to please she was never to be happy. The only person to know the real Zaynab was Hela who was like her shadow all the time. This is a very sad story of a woman who had great strength of character and beauty, but who grew more bitter and hard with every cruel thing that happened to her. She challenged the accepted roles for woman by insisting she sat on war councils and she became one of the best strategists of the time. There really where none such as she, but this did not bring her happiness anyway. The setting is the exotic ambience of the Maghreb, which is so enticing and which Melissa Addey once again brings to life with her beautiful renditions of Morocco. The building from scratch of Marrakesh is awesome to see in this very well researched historical novel. I am dying to read book 4 yet dreading the end of this series which is a series which has grown very dear to my heart.
None Such As She by Melissa Addey This 5 Star historical novel is told by a young woman of status, and a beauty above all others. Many want her hand in marriage but she decides none will do but a man she has fallen in love with, and she relies on her love to be enough for both of them. It is anything but. She decides that she isn’t going to leave her life to fate so she makes public she has had a vision that her husband will rule the land, which creates a journey she could never have imagined! This story is so beautifully written that it takes you along a deeply emotional journey, packed with lies, deceit, ambition, adventure, cruelty, and angst. I cried... This author is new to me and I can’t say enough about this touching and entertaining book other than, I highly recommend everyone read it!
This epic story set in eleventh century North Africa. Zaynab is a woman who lived on her own terms considering the times. It will take her four marriages to get her hearts desire with a story that spans the test of time. This well written story that gives vivid details to the characters and setting draws you in from the beginning and keeps you captivated until the last page a true testament to Ms. Addey's writing style.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
This book is part of the Moroccan Empire series that looks at life in Northern Africa in the years 1000-1100 ce. This is fictionalized history that tells the story of 4 women who helped shape the rulers and evolving nation. The author paints a very good word picture of the desert, camels, bazaars, foods and so much more. This book is 3rd in the series and we learn all about a wicked queen who lets nothing stand in her way. I have now read the entire series. I know that I will read it again. I received this book for free from the author and voluntarily chose to post my honest review
This is the 3rd book in the Moroccan Empire series and It is also Zaynab’s tale. We meet Zaynab as the evil second wife in book 2, but here we learn her story and why she ended up being who she was. There is a lot of repeat from the second book, which I found boring, but other wise it was a very entertaining read.