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4.24  ·  Rating details ·  26,058 ratings  ·  2,173 reviews
Accused of mocking the inviolate codes of Islam, the Persian poet and sage Omar Khayyam fortuitously finds sympathy with the very man who is to judge his alleged crimes. Recognising genuis, the judge decides to spare him and gives him instead a small, blank book, encouraging him to confine his thoughts to it alone. Thus begins the seamless blend of fact and fiction that is ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Interlink Books (first published 1988)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Samarcande = ‎Samarchande = SamarKand‬, Amin Maalouf

Samarkand is a 1988 historical fiction novel by the French-Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf.

The first half of the story is set in Persia (present day Iran) and Central Asia in the 11th century, and revolves around the scientist, philosopher, and poet Omar Khayyám.

It recounts the creation of his Rubaiyat throughout the history of the Seljuk Empire, his interactions with historical figures such as Vizir Nizam al-Mulk and Hassan al-Sabbah of the ord
one of the best historical novel that i have read,an extraordinary one,i really admire it,,,,
the passionate love story of Omar Khayyam and Jahan the poet at the court of Samarkand and this nine-years love that end in the most tragic way....
before reading this novel i only thought that Omar Khayyam was only a great persian poet,and surprisingly i discovered he was philosopher and teacher,Astronomer Mathematician and ALGEBRA LEADER and agreat scientist.....
alot of historical information about Sel
I read the English translation of this French language original, first published in 1988. It’s structured as a novel in two parts.

Part 1 is set in the Islamic world of the 11th century CE, and is based around 3 historical characters. The lead character is Omar Khayyam, known today in the west as a poet, but who in his own time was better known as an astronomer. The novel has the idea of a youthful friendship between Omar and Hassan-i-Sabbah, who later founded the sect of the Assassins. The third
Sep 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: central-asia
I wrote down 12 quotes from this book when I read it back in 1999 -- clearly I loved it. Of course, I am sure that a great deal of that love came from being in Central Asia at the time and having been to Samarkand. It's a fictional story about the Rubiyaat and Omar Khayyam.

p. 26
"Time ... has two dimensions, its length is measured by the rhythm of the sun but its depth by the rhythm of passion."

p. 81
"...the qualities needed to govern are not those which are needed in order to accede to power. In
I learned of this book through the MiddleEast/NorthAfrica group here at Goodreads. Otherwise I would have missed out on a very interesting and fascinating trip through medieval and late 19th/early 20th century Persia or Iran. Though this is historical fiction, I feel as if I have been given an introduction into the Iranian past, an introduction that helps to explain some of the present.

The primary focus is Omar Khayyam and his book, the Rubaiyaat. Khayyam was a philosopher, poet, consultant to
This went over my head.

I did learn about the Sufi poet, sage, astronomer, mathematician, Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) of 11th century Persia and his famed Rubaiyaat, about life during the Seljuk empire before the Mongol invasion, about Nizam ul Mulk, Hassan Sabbah, the founder of the Order of the Assassins, and later about the Persian democratic struggle for a constitutional government. That is why I am giving this book two stars. I did learn something, but I also had to spend quite a bit of time
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“At the bottom of the Atlantic, there is a book. I am going to tell you its history. (…) Six years after the event, I am still obsessed by this object of flesh and ink, whose unworthy guardian I was“ - Benjamin Omar Lesage.

Amin Maalouf said about his work as a novelist that he tried to build positive myths. That describes Samarkand so well!
In this book, he gave Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat a long lost manuscript with Persia’s history in its marge, found by his fictional narrator Benjamin O. Lesage on
Bob Newman
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The Red Violin" meets Omar Khayyam on board the Titanic !

Well, OK, maybe my title is stretching things a little, but not by much. This is a very original novel which risked getting out of control, but did not. Only a very skilled writer could pull things together the way Amin Maalouf has done in SAMARKAND. The title refers to the ancient Central Asian city, now in Uzbekistan, where the novel opens with Omar Khayyam, the renowned poet (also mathematician and astrologer), receiving a large blank
Sidharth Vardhan

"Omar Khayyam mourned his disciple with the same dignity, the same resignation and the same discreet agony as he had mourned other friends. ‘We were drinking the same wine, but they got drunk two or three rounds before me.’"

Among other things, this book has among its motifs - Omar Khayyam, Hassan-i Sabbah, Persian liberation efforts at the beginning of 20th century, Titanic, Mongols etc.

Have you ever detests the 'x' of algebra during your math classes, well Omar Khayyam is the source of tha
Czarny Pies
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
Samarkand is a reflection on the role of Islam in the modern world written by a member of the Académie française which is one of the great bastions of world civilization. The author who believes that sex and literature are the only true good things in life believes that Islam is a positive force only on the rare occasions when it encourages both.
As he was writing, Maalouf was likely thinking of the civil war that was ongoing in his native Lebanon. However, he chose to set his novel in Uzbekstan
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf, translated from the French by Russell Harris, is a historical fiction novel in two main parts. The first part opens with the narrator, Benjamin Omar Lesage, revealing the loss of the original Rubaiyat manuscript of Omar Khayyam when it sank with the Titanic in 1912. Lesage then takes us back to 11th century Persia where he recreates the life, love, poetry, and work in science, mathematics, and astronomy of Omar Khayyam. The second half of the novel skips to the early 2 ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I actually want to give this 3 1/2 stars--4 stars for the first half of the book, 3 stars for the second half.

This my second novel by Maalouf, and I have to say that I liked The Rock of Tanios better. With Samarkand I felt like I was reading two different novels. It was divided into four books, the first two of which were a fictional life of the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam, narrated in the third person. It was fascinating, as I had no idea he was an astrologer/astronomer, philosopher,
Habiba Ibrahim
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
A must read, a charming tale n a marvelous mix. between the old n the new, Amin Ma'loof takes u in an incredible journey to the 11th, 12th n 13th centuries to the charming days of The Islamic Khelafa where it was ruled from the iranian lands passing by the odd friendship "Omar Elkhayam, Hassan Elsabbah n Nezam Elmolk" n how their different ways interfere amazingly between the political n religious conflict, also the horrible assassin group tales, then he smoothly moves to the ending of the 19th ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The story of an 11th century Persian poet and scientist Omar Khayyam. My first book by Amin Maalouf and what a book this is!!!
Analogous to the Omar Khayyam he writes about, Maalouf is himself a great humanist. Maalouf's philosophical views are often present in his books and expressed via his main protagonist. His mastery of the French language and the poetic slant he adds to his writings make his books not only interesting but also extremely pleasant to read. His writing flows with grace and ele
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is one of the significant and famous book of Amin Maalouf together with Leo African. Story is very good. Semerkant is a good chose If you start to read Amin’s book.
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
‘Samarkand’ tells the story of Omar Khayyam, Persian polymath and his namesake from 900 hundred years later, an American scholar whose life becomes entangled in incipient Iranian independence movement. The novels represents the higher echelon of historical fiction; informative and at times captivating and suffused with (at times a somewhat sententious) discourse on religious tolerance and dogmatism. As a work of art, however, it’s characters are at times too embedded in the tropes and clichés wh ...more
Tyler Anderson
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was simply a wonderful book. I would suggest drinking this book as a shot, chased by My Name Is Red by Pamuk.

But seriously, students of Islamic history, especially those modern-day Hashishin, will want to read this book, both on its own merits, as well as a decompression from all of those heady, repetitive history books. Take a break, let your mind wander around in this place for a while...
Farhan Khalid
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Samarkand, the most beautiful face the Earth has ever turned towards the sun

I have had to distance myself from people in order to hear the voice of my memory, to nurture a naive hope and insistent vision

I am not one of those for whom faith is simply fear of judgement

How do I pray?

I study a rose, I count the stars, I marvel at the beauty of creation and how perfectly ordered it is

We live in the age of the secret and of fear

You must have two faces

Show one to the crowd, and keep the other for your
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lebanon
If you have never read Amin Maalouf before, then I recommend starting with "Samarkand". It contains real historical events, real characters and rich of details, and reading it is a real pleasure.

The novel is divided into two parts:
  1- The story happened in the 11th century and which tells the era of Nizam Al-Mulk and the everyday life of Omar Al-Khayam(the poet).
2- The second is in 19 century where Benjamin O. Lesage (a passionate about quatrains of Omar AL Khayam) who tells us his quest f


It’s not a book, it’s a piece of literature; transcending time and space and boundaries created by nature and humans. Trying to script a story of two leads, one who is telling the story and the other whose story is being told, that spans over a distance of centuries, must not have been an easy task for Malouf. Written in peotic French, Malouf divided this small book of some 300 pages into four sections. First two dealing with the legend of Khayyam and his exploits across the Orient, last two ded
Nouha  Abbas
This is my first Amine Maalouf book and it is already at the top of " my favourite books of all times" list for I was deeply absorbed in the story .
It follows the story of an 11th century Persian poet and philosopher Omar Khayyam(whom poetry is only a tiny part of his life) with two close friends, Nizam al-Mulk a vizier of the Seljuq Empire and Hassan ibn al-Sabbah, the founder of the Ismaeeli sect of the assassins. Omar is not attracted either to wealth like Nizam al-Mulk or to ascetic virtue l
Hoda Marmar
Will finish it later. It's nice, written beautifully, but I'm not interested in the historical fiction in it, so I'm putting it aside for now. ...more
Ayman Hjirt
Samarakand. A story of the same land, in two different eras. The first half of the novel tells us the journey of the wise Omar son of Ibrahim Khayyam. Ghyathud Din Abu El fath Omar ibn Ibrahim Khayyam was a persian 11th century philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and a poet. He is known for his Rubayiat رباعيات, the quatrains, a collection of poems consisting of 4 lines. But he also had great contributions to mathematics, especially concerning the resolution of cubic equations (equations with ...more
Mansour Mangambit
May 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Omar Khayyam may be my favorite character. He does not like all the b.s in politics and would rather study the stars; what a legend.
Jul 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
I was really intrigued with the historical setting of this book - the medieval Seljuk Empire, with all the complexities of court life, harems, scientific study, and even glimpses into the newly-founded Order of Assassins!

However, this book is proof that there is such a thing as too much history in a historical fiction novel. I love learning about history. But really, ithe real wars, treaties, assassinations, diplomats, political relationships, and so on that took place in the Seljuk Empire, and
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, iran
I had to read this book because of Omar Khayyam. A skillfully told tale between two times. The first in the times of Omar Khayyam; the great Persian mathematician, astrologist and poet and the story of the birth of his Rubaiyat. The 11th century Persia, when the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara were the greatest in the world. It is in Samarkand that Khayyam starts to compose the quatrains whose collection constitutes the immortal Rubaiyat. And in it he wrote:

“Samarkand, the most beautiful face t
Ana-Maria Bujor
This book started off great for me. While I generally don't read poetry, I really appreciate Omar Khayyam's work - it's pure, powerful philosophy. I still can remember some elements, even if I've read them in high school last time.
Thus, I was more than interested in a book about Khayyam, one of the luminaries of his generation. And that part was great - the three main characters, the history, the politics, the vivid descriptions of life and belief. I couldn't ask more from a book about this per
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Score: 8.5/10*

Synopsis: The setting is Persia across 10th-11th century and then late 19th century. The novel aims to highlight key events in Persian history, while also putting focus on the character Omar Khayyam and his influence on science and astronomy as well as his Rubaiyat poetry collection.


- The first half, focusing on Omar Khayyam era and the Assassins is absolutely brilliant, with a really vivid historical setting and atmosphere
- Good mix of storytelling and historical knowledge
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great story! I learned about the Rubaiyat, because I'm also interested in books about the Titanic disaster. More than once I read that the Rubaiyat had been on board. If it's true; I haven't figured that out yet. Some say yes it was, other say no it's hoax, the manuscript has vanished centuries ago.

And now this great story. The first two part about the creation of the book and it's incredible travels are wonderful. Not only to know what happened to the book, but also to learn about Persia dur
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of this book takes place in the ninth century. It's about the famous Sufi poet Omar Khayyam, and two of his friends/enemies. I kept thinking it was going to have some important things to say about people who want political power vs people who want religious power vs people who just want to write poems and drink wine. It didn't really, but I still liked it. It made me want to go to Iran, especially Esfahan, and there were some lines I liked:

"I despise the zeal of the devout,

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أفضل ما أبدأ به لأمين معلوف 5 86 Jan 27, 2015 07:19AM  
Middle East/North...: Samarkand (Jan-Feb 2012) 66 67 Oct 03, 2013 08:27PM  
Bookoholics: Samarkand - Amine Maalouf 2 17 Jul 20, 2013 03:21PM  
Around the World: Iran - Nile daughter recommends Samarkand 3 36 Nov 02, 2011 10:34PM  
sufi 1 54 Sep 06, 2011 11:08PM  

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Amin Maalouf (Arabic: أمين معلوف; alternate spelling Amin Maluf) is a Lebanese journalist and novelist. He writes and publishes primarily in French.

Most of Maalouf's books have a historical setting, and like Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, and Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Maalouf mixes fascinating historical facts with fantasy and philosophical ideas. In an interview Maalouf has said that his role as a writer

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