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Judith Tarr

1989, Bantam

Who recommends: Danielle, Rebekah, Preeti, Shelly, Isabel, Margaret
Who discommends:

Horse-lovers will enjoy this book for sure. But it has a very good story for the rest of us too. A spoiled wastrel princeling thoughtlessly rapes the daughter of the pilgrim who tended his injuries. Unfortunately for Hasan, this pilgrim is a magus and turns Hasan into a horse, lets him retain the intelligence of a man, and sets a curse upon him.

So Hasan becomes Khamsin the horse and is sold in market to 14 year old Zamaniyah. He's neither man nor beast, but then Zamaniyah is neither man nor woman. In his madness at losing two sons, her father has forbidden Zamaniyah to act as a girl and has instead raised her as a boy and as his heir. Horse and girl do some growing up together and separately.

The cultural and political milieu of medieval Egypt and Syria was fascinating. I've always loved the romanticism of Arabian Nights, and this book combined that feel with real history.

Also, the supporting characters in A WIND IN CAIRO were strong and interesting. I would have liked to see more interaction between Khamsin and Zamaniyah throughout the novel, but the ending was melodramatically romantic enough to soothe my earlier impatience. I enjoyed the story very much.--Preeti

I like Judith Tarr a lot. She knows history and she writes about periods and places in a way that brings them to life for me. This is one of my favorites of hers.--Shelly (31 Jul 99)

Oh, I did read one SFR book: A WIND IN CAIRO by Judith Tarr. I enjoyed it as a historical but found the romance sadly lacking. The hero spent most of the book locked in the form of a horse (and even fathered a foal which I found a little icky) so the interaction between hero and heroine was necessarily limited. But I loved the romantic atmosphere of the Middle East that Tarr evokes and the growth of the heroine (whose name I cannot remember how to spell) as she tries to fit into this world very moving.--Isabel (03 Jan 00)

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