Khoury has managed to put together a novel that is a brilliant mix of speculative historical fiction with a dash of murder mystery/crime and sci-fi thrown in. He ticks all those boxes, and the result is a suspenseful and awe-inspiring work that asks readers to check their brain and any prejudices or preconceived notions at the door, and just let this book wash over them like a wave of new knowledge ... Well done, Mr. Khoury!
At the core of Mr. Khoury’s complex multi-plot...is his vision of a modern Islamic state, with its good points—the duty of charity for all believers, without the indignity of street-begging—and its bad ones: rigorous repression, public beheadings. Good idea, bad idea? As with sci-fi at its best, the real excitement comes not from the thrills on the surface, but from the ideas underneath.
Alternate histories don’t get much better than this thought-provoking mind bender from Khoury ... Superior and plausible worldbuilding matches an ingeniously imaginative conceit. This ranks as a classic of the genre.
It’s no matter why the words work—they are a simple plot device to show the stench, misery, and horror of that great clash of civilizations that 'would decide the fate of the world.' This untypical thriller powerfully mixes history, culture, warfare, and imagination.