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The Gardens of Light

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,154 ratings  ·  269 reviews
This is the story of Mani, a forgotten figure, but whose name is yet, paradoxically, on everyone's lips.

When using the words "Manichean" or "Manichaeism" one rarely thinks Mani, painter, doctor and Eastern philosopher of the third century, called "the Buddha of Light" by the Chinese and "the apostle of Jesus" by the Egyptians . His tolerant and humanist philosophy wanted
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Interlink Publishing Group (first published March 1st 1991)
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Taha Noman ( طه نعمان ) لا
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Prophet Mani, founder of Manichaeism, is one of the forgotten figures of history, although he was very popular (and also much hated) in the 3rd century Babylonia - today's Iraq. Forgotten is also the town of Ctesiphon (near present-day Baghdad), capital of the Persian Empire under the Sassanid dynasty, where Mani was born and where he spread his religious beliefs.

Little information about the prophet was preserved throughout the centuries, until a parchment was discovered in 1969, containing
I should firstly 'fess up that I'd read a shopping list if Amin Maalouf had written it. There's a good reason for that though. It doesn't matter what the subject of the book is, he has a way of telling a story that makes me feel as if I'm curled up at his feet listening to him reading it.

In The Gardens of Light (heaven essentially) Maalouf tells the story of the life of Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, a term which has come to mean opposites, e.g. black and white, light and dark. I don't
Roy Elmer
Amin Maalouf has to be one of my favourite authors. Ever. He's a voice not well known in the West, a voice of inclusionism and tolerance of Middle-Eastern and French descent. He has written a brilliant and fascinating work of non-fiction, viewing the events leading up to 9/11 from Arab eyes, he has produced Samarkand and Leo the African, works of historical fiction that I thought were marvellous, and now I have discovered The Gardens of Light. It is amazing, and one of my new favourite books.

Wilfred Berkhof
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in reading about one of the truly inspiring historical figures
Shelves: non-fiction
The Gardens of Light tells of the prophet/sage Mani who lived in the third century ad.

The story follows Mani's life, from his birth to his torturous death. The book centers on Mani but it also gives a great historical view of the Sassanid empire during that time. I especially loved the little gems of historical information on both the Sassanid and Roman empire Maalouf has dropped in to this story.

It does tend to be more of a historical book than a novel as Maalouf likes to stay true to the
Onur B
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hero of the book Mani begins to his life at the one religious order till when he is 24 years old. After this time he decides to start his journey and people gathers around him. King Shaphur supports him always till when we die. Mani keeps away himself all kind of war. He prefers always peace. Palace politics and Mani's tragic end. Nice book.
Sep 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: arab-literature
The Gardens of Light is by Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese author. This is the second novel of his that I've read, Leo Africanus being the first.

This historical novel is the story of Mani, the crippled prophet who was the founder of Manichaeism, a now extinct belief system which was tolerant of the known faiths of the time and stressed the equality of all people. The main action of the novel takes place in Mesopotamia in what is now the region of modern Iraq in the 3rd century.

Mani reveres not only
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rest In Peace dear Mani !! no one wants to understand you!
Mohamed Tahar Hamada
The gardens of light by amine maalouf it's a really well written and interesting book that takes you into a trip through ages and empires and discuss the story of mani the founder and the prophet of Manichaeism religion long time forgotten this book takes a place in an empire held by a dynasty under the control of mages that wanna eradicate all religions under theire rules, mani in that time created a religion that came to gather people no matter theire races or sexe or religion or castes, ...more
Almir Olovcic
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant biographical story from Maalouf. As in Samarkand, Maalouf has managed to present us even more distant past and life of Many, his upbringing, preaching years and finally death. When reading this book, you are almost thrown back through the time and watching the world through Mani s eyes. He is one very tragic character, born too early to teach universal language of love, faith and universal God, without any boundaries, divisions, races, casts, only pure love for One and Only. ...more
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Amin Maalouf chooses for his novel a perhaps impossible task, that of centering his narrative on a religious leader whose message has come down to us principally through the writings of those who opposed him. Mani was a preacher of the third century, common era; today he is principally remembered for the use of his name to describe a view of the world that hews to a rigid division between good and evil: Manichaeism. Born into a Judeo-Christian Gnostic sect, Mani lived in Zoroastrian Persia but ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-liberry
Wonderful on many different levels. Written with clarity and subtle elegance that I first misunderstood as dryness but came to appreciate as the story developed. One of the finer works of historical fiction I've read.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amin Maalouf could make me interested in anything.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This is my first book by Amin Malouf.
Such a spectacular read!!! The story of Mani, now a completely forgotten figure, but the religion, known as Manichaeism, had once thrived all over the world. It was the religion of light and dark, the eternal loving father and the prince of darkness.
The story starts in the 3rd century, when a Parthian Warrior, by name Patek, gets mesmerized by a Jewish sage known as Sittai, who came to Babylonia from Palmyra, which was then a bastion of diverse culture,
robin friedman
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Novel Of Mani

I read Amin Malouf's historical novel "The Gardens of Light" after reading Paul Kriwackek's high praise for it in his recent book about Zoroastrianism, "In Search of Zarathustra: Across Iran and Central Asia to find the Worlds' First Prophet." Maalouf has written a rare book about a historical period and figure that will be obscure to many readers. He has told an insipring story that may keep readers awake through many a late night.

"The Gardens of Light" was Maalouf's first novel.
Dec 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
A light, beautiful tale of Mani, founder of Manichaeism, from his first encounters with his inner voice, his first communications with God. He founded a popular religion in Iran while making alliances with the rulers and suggesting a sort of pantheism, embracing aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism. Well-written and short, but certainly interesting.
Carl Waluconis
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Interested in ancient religious figures
Shelves: fiction
Ancient religions and civilizations have always gathered my attentions, so this novel about Mani, the founder of Manichaeism, once a major religion, now all but gone, grabbed me for many reasons. I really knew close to nothing about it. Mani is of course the central character. As he roams the Sassanian Empire, he gathers disciples and followers. Eventually one of them is the "King of Kings", the ruler of the Sassanian Empire, which rivals and struggles with the Roman Empire. Mani wins over this ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing illuminating , entertaining or novel about this work , but rather a monotonous and plain plot , based on his previously deployed literary structure , I would say an exhausted technique used and reused again .
my only two reasons for reading this work are : 1) it has been waiting on my shelf for almost 5 years , 2) after reading almost all of his major literary output (with the exception of Balthasar's odyssey) , I am planing this summer to read 'Spectres of Orientalism' which is a
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book did not interest me at all.
To be totally fair, the 2 stars rating doesn't fall totally on the nature of the book or the writer whom i love, by the way.
Part of it is actually me being not in the right state of mind while reading it. Another reason is the translation. Although the translator uses exquisite and very impressive vocabulary but the translation was not engaging for me. The third reason i didn't like this book is the fact that the book was supposed to be about Mani, a
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was my first fiction book in years and satisfied me so well. For readers who are immersed in Roman history and the related field of Iranology. Maalouf's attention to detail in this story of Mani's life is demonstrated by his use of Aramaic words and his ability to conjour up a scene which readers will be familiar with. Whether it's a fertile palm tree grove on the banks of the Tigris, the orderly chaos of a temple precinct or the madness at the market under the scorching summer sun, Maalouf ...more
Görkem Altıok
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely as all Maalouf books. Writer does not only gives us an interesting story in this book, he also makes us rethink about our perception of God and life so this book isn't just a book to help you pass the time. I think i will even go as far as to say that this book should be read to juniors as Mani's teachings(the ones in the book) are exactly what we need for the world.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Firoz Kathrada
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's Amin Maalouf. So, I just love.
Saleem Boumaroun
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's strange how such a peaceful and loving character in history is completely forgotten...
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing style deserves more stars. However, I liked the first half of the book more than what followed
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Disappointing. The characters are stick figures and do not really develop as the story goes on. Mani, the central character, is the founder of Manichaeism, a belief system that once, briefly, might have been a rival to Christianity. The book portrays him as an artist and an eccentric: Malouf’s model for Mani appears to have been the Fool in the Tarot. Who knows? Perhaps he was a fool.

The other characters are so two-dimensional as to be almost absent. Mani’s is wife is a cipher, his friends are
Fouad Jaber
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
What if Mani was alive today? and what if he resided at the very place of his birth "Babel" or the modern day Iraq? ow the tears he would shed and the anomi he would relapse to at the sight of his message of religious tolerance, the one he lived as he died a martyr, trampled upon and discarded in the masquerade of civilization.

To witness the descendants of his own blood and flesh massacred with an atrocity surpassing the brutality of his age under the euphemism of feigning religion but the all
Jarkko Laine
This is the first book from Amin Maalouf that I've read, and also my first real contact to Mani and his religion. Sure, I'd heard the name before—but only as a side note in the history of Christianity.

I found this book an enchanting mixture of fiction and history and enjoyed the way how Maalouf carefully crafted a story about the person behind the movement. If all history was taught this way, I'm sure we'd all know and remember much more about the world around us!

This is a great book about a
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book I found in the house that a) I hadn't read and b) looked interesting. So far it's rather wonderful. I don't have a religious bone in my body but I can still find spiritual books moving, especially when they're written as well as this one. They say reading a translation is like looking at the back of a tapestry but I would say this translation must be a good one and I wish I could read the original.

Finished and reviewed this ages ago, not sure why it now appears in my "currently
Damien Travel
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The Gardens of Light (Les Jardins de Lumière)” by Lebanese author Amin Maalouf tells the story of Mani, the philosopher who lived in Persia in the 3rd century. His name inspired the words “Manichean” and “Manicheism”, but Maalouf shows us how his life and teachings were very far from a simplistic opposition between good and evil.

To read more:
Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: justread
Meh. It was OK. It's a historical novel, but the author has written a scanty story with no narrative tension. Ostensibly this is because there is little information about Mani's life, but come on man, that's why this is a novel and not a biography, right?

Still, it's vaguely interesting and an easy read.
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The life of Mani 1 29 Apr 28, 2009 07:55PM  

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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
“لو رأيت على شجرة الخوخ هذه برعمًا مزهرًا وقلت: "تلك خوخة" فهل أكون قد كذبت؟ كلا ثم كلا، إني أكون ببساطة قد استبقت الحقيقة بفصل واحد” 49 likes
“أيّ فضيلة في أن يحرم المرء نفسه من لذة لم يسبق له قط أن ذاقها ؟” 22 likes
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