Starfire's Reviews > A Wind in Cairo

A Wind in Cairo by Judith Tarr
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's review
Feb 05, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, 6-10
Read from January 29 to February 06, 2010

Nice little fantasy story set in medieval Egypt, in which an arrogant, thoughtless prince is turned into a horse in punishment for a crime he commits against the daughter of a magus, with just a hint of romance in there from at least three different perspectives. Set against the background of the Crusades and the empire (is that the right word?) of Saladin, it made for a good - and different - fantasy read.

It's been a while since I've read a fantasy with this kind of narrative style - one where the description is far more about what's actually happening than what the characters are thinking and feeling. It reminds me of books I used to read as a kid, and I have to admit that it... I don't know... distanced me from the characters a little - I didn't feel as though I knew them nearly as well as I feel like I know characters I read about through a more involved, internal-focussed narrative voice. That's not necessarily a bad thing, I guess - but it did mean that it took a while for me to get into the story.

The characters themselves were fairly enjoyable to read about - no-one struck me as a complete cardboard cutout, although I could have done with a bit more about some of them sometimes. The plotline was simple (bordering on fairytale-ish), but fairly well executed.

And I give the book special points for being a little bit of a history lesson in medieval Egypt and the culture of Saladin's time - not that the history in the book is perfect, but the author does include an endnote on what's historically accurate in the story and what isn't - and I do find myself wanting to read more books set in that time period now...

Really, I don't have any real major complaints about the book, so I'm surprised to find myself only giving it a 6.5/10. Why? I guess because despite there not being anything critically wrong with it, there's also not much in the way of shining "I LOVED this about this book!" in there that I can think about. It was enjoyable, yes, and I'd absolutely recommend it to fantasy reading friends (with one caveat: the crime the protagonist commits at the beginning of the book, which he's being punished for and spends the rest of the book atoning for is rape - the scene itself is handled with delicacy and is completely non-graphic, but if that's going to be a trigger for you, give this story a miss! ) - but at the same time, it just didn't hugely inspire or enthrall me.

Ehhnnnhh - you get that with some books. C'est la vie

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Reading Progress

01/29/2010 page 88
33.59% "Very different, fairy-tale style fantasy set in medieval Egypt. Not a kids book, but kind of feels like on (in a good way)"
02/04/2010 page 128
48.85% "Slow moving, but there's a kind of poetry to the narrative voice"
02/05/2010 page 197
75.19% "No idea how close to accurate the history aroudn Saladin is, but I'm enjoying that angle of the story"

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