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The Rock of Tanios

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,631 ratings  ·  430 reviews
Tanios was a child of the mountains of Lebanon in the 1880s when the Egyptian Pashas were struggling against Ottoman domination and the British and French plotted with and against each other. Amin Maalouf's novel, The Rock of Tanios, begins with a recollection of the rock on which Tanios was last seen sitting and weaves together the strands of the fascinating legend of his ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 7th 1995 by Little Brown and Company (first published September 1993)
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Amir Ahmed ليون الإفريقي - سمرقند

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  6,631 ratings  ·  430 reviews

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Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french, islam
I shall not be retelling the story here. My reviews rarely do.

This is a book which blew hot and cold for me, but that finally I ended up liking. It is worth the read.

To begin with, I was put off by the style and, especially, the voice of the narrator. It is what I would refer to as the 'faux mythic' so beloved by writers who want to deliver light-weight morals and what passes for profundity - think Coehlo. (Sorry Coehlo fans) And yes, there remains a bit of that in the book. But Maalouf redeem
Wilfred Berkhof
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This book left me with two small disappointments.

The first one that there wasn't more to read about the history of this little village and the people in it.

And secondly that most of the story is fiction, where as the whole story felt so realistic and so deserving of being true.

Maalouf has the gift of interweaving fact and fiction in such a way that the only part of the story that one might consider fiction is actually based on a true event.

He has interwoven a lot of his own family's history in t
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I read for Amin Maalouf and my only question is why didn't I pick up any of his books earlier. Since this was assigned by my student's school I had to read it in English. The next one, I will definitely read it in French, the language that Maalouf wrote in.

The Rock of Tanios traces the birth and journey of Tanios, as well as the horrible consequences befalling his mountainous village, Kfaryabda. Maalouf masterly weaves the story with fictional and historical element, givin
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Wow! What a great story! Maalouf has taken a true incident, a murder, that occurred in 19th century Lebanon and woven around it a mesmerizing, mythic story of cause and effect, revenge and its consequences. The narrator of the tale seeks to explain the mysterious disappearance of a young man named Tanios from a certain rock on the outskirts of the village of Kfaryabda. One simple event--the village Sheikh sleeping with his major-domo's wife, thus resulting in the birth of Tanios--causes a chain ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of story, it explains that sheik's addiction of woman and Lamia. Negative events start together with Tanios's born. Rukoz hodja becomes a friend with Tanios. After, Tanios starts the English priest's school with passionately and at the same time he falls in love to the Rukoz who is daughter Esma. After the several disasters he takes a road in some way and he escapes with his father. (Who is his really father?) At the end of the book Tanios confronts to Amir. It is so impressive ...more
Nil Tuncel Lejeune
This one was my second Amin Maalouf book (first one is Samarkand). What made me a fan of this author's work has been the way his stories flow. Just like in the Samarkand, the story always goes with the optimal pace to keep the reader reading on, by not filling the text with too much of unnecessary details, yet giving the exact clues for the reader to pick the necessary conclusions. It took a lot of time for me to start reading Amin Maalouf's work (which I do not know why), but I am so glad that ...more
Another marvellous story from Amin Maalouf, one of my favourite authors. Set in the first half of the 19th century, Tanios's story is told against a backdrop of upheaval caused by fighting between the Egyptians and the Turks, both trying to gain control of the area, local fighting between the Druse and the Catholics, and interference from the then 'super powers' - England, France, Austria. The basis of the story is a true event, the murder of a patriarch, but around this Maalouf, with his usual ...more
May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a great backgrounder for anyone interested in the complexities of Lebanon. The country has long been caught up in the 'great game' of the superpowers. Here the powers in question are the Ottoman Empire and the British operating out of Egypt in the late C19. A small mountain village finds itself on the frontline of two spheres of influence. Maalouf insinuates the conflict deep into the lives of his characters and frames the whole thing in an old fashioned fable with a shrewdly modern hear ...more
Apr 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Didn't love it, but I enjoyed sections. I found the story confusing... probably because I don't know as much Arab history as I should. The human nature of the characters was engrossing. There is passion and loyalty and those "oh no!" moments I love when I'm reading. I would definitely try another of Maalouf's works. ...more
Aya Fawzy
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good literature is just another world
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended by a Goodreads friend, and I'm thankful that she suggested it for me. I didn't know what to expect. I simply trusted in her good judgment. I'm glad I did. I quickly found myself engrossed in what I understand to be an Arabic folk story/myth based loosely in an historical context. The story is rich with intrigue, tragedy, twists and turns. It is described in details so vivid that, even though it's very foreign to me, I could easily envision each scene and event. I had as ...more
Elio Mouhanna
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Rock Of Tanios was my summer reading book for 2013! It is an amazing book, which brings you back to the olden days of Lebanon! It's title isn't about an actual rock belonging to a boy, named Tanios! The rock is actually like an empire for him, that he uses to climb on and think of what he should do. The book gives me an idea of how Lebanon is like, by being denominated by the Egyptians, and being helped by the British empire. It brings back a lot of old folk tales and interesting facts of th ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
The whole story is influenced by a real historical story; an assasination of a Calif in 19th centry by a man called ”Abukashk Maalouf” whom got asylem in Cyprus but got arrested, taken back to the main land and been executed. The rest of the story and characters are imaginary created by the auther Amin Maalouf, a Libanese born auther living in France.
این اثر توسط شهرنوش پارسی پور به فارسی برگردانده شده و توسط نشر روایت در 1374 چاپ و منتشر شده است

درباره ی یکی از آثار مالوف که به فارسی هم ترجمه شد
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Contrary to the introduction of this book here on Goodreads, the time frame of the novel is between 1821, the birth year of Tanios, and 1840, the year of his disappearance. (The introduction here mentioned 1880's).
One important note on the novel, it fails partially probably, to commit to the vocabulary of Lebanon's 19th century. I read the novel in Arabic, Maalouf's mother tongue, and it lacks some original expressions from that era, compared to similar works on the same period.
In any case, it i
Maryam Payne
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book so very much in French, I was putting off reading the English translation (translations sometimes lack some of the spirit of the original, and I just didn't want to have that eclipse the marvels of my first reading of it). Remarkably, it's as good in English. The magic of it lies in how much breadth and depth it has and how epic and sweeping it feels even though the scope of it, the core of the story, is really quite modest. Maalouf creates amazing characters; even the most min ...more
Jenna Alqdah
Great read overall! Plot can be somewhat confusing with all the changes in time, but overall, great book. The author is really talented.
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french, lebanese
I just love folk tales. I love folk stories. I’ll always have fond memories of my grandparents narrating different stories from back home, and I just love reading and hearing about folk tales from all over. This is why reading Amin Maalouf’s novel “The Rock of Tanios” was a great pleasure. In a very peculiar structure, a narrator remembers his childhood memories of his home village in Lebanon, “Kfaryabda”, and narrates to us the folk legend of Tanios. There’s a certain rock in the forest where t ...more
Hayan Abou Fakher
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thehundred
This cannot be fiction. This is the truth. I, for myself, coming the mountains of Syria, from a Druse community, could understand and relate to every word Amin Maalouf used to describe the complicated structure of these communities. The never ending war that starts within one's self the second he was born. The constant battle between logic and societal hypocrisy. All portrayed in the relationship between Tanios, Sheikh Francis, Lamia, and Gerios. This mind game loop that drove each of these char ...more
Mubeen Irfan
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my fourth novel written by Amin Maalouf and I am not counting a non-fiction crusade history book that he has penned. So need to mention here that I really like his writing.

Here too he has crafted a master story from a seemingly unimportant event plucked from his own family tree. Political climate of the Lebanon/Syria belt in mid 19th century is the setting where different world powers are eyeing for influence. Tanios is one ordinary boy who is caught up in all this upheaval or maybe he
Laura Freeland
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I meet someone from another country, I love to ask who is their favorite author from their country. I am glad I did of my Lebonese friend as he suggested Amin Maalouf. Rock of Tanios is a great introduction to this author.

I loved the storytelling quality of this book. It is a cross between historical fiction and sharing a tale of the village of Kdaryabda. Although it is the tale of Tanios, one story after another unfolds when describing the other characters. The book is quick to read yet yo
Manal Ibham
Apr 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I'm so glad I chose this from a preloved FB marketplace. I loved the book!

It is so beautifully written, very authentic, and eloquent. The story, based on post-colonial Lebanon, is inspired from an actual incident. The novel is written from an author's perspective, who is trying to string together Tanios' life and mystery, referencing multiple sources of text from his period.

There were moments when I grieved for Gerios and Lamia, felt anger on behalf of Tanios, and immense love for Asma. The auth
Simon Achkar
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"My Mountains are like that. Attachment to the soil and aspiration toward departure. Place of refuge, place of passage. Land of milk and honey and of blood. Neither paradise nor hell. Purgatory"

This book is fascinating! When I first read it, I thought it was a Mystery genre, I reached the last chapters and realized it is not a Mystery it is a Parable!
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orient-express
Interesting story, but I disliked very much the interference of narrator which disturbed the flow of the novel. It was a nice introductory technique, but it kept interfering too much and too often, thus breaking the story in such a way that at the end I was kept wondering about details from the first part of the novel.
Sep 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up at a bookshop in Istanbul per the bookseller's recommendation and didn't expect it to become one of the best contemporary novels I've read in a long time. The prose was amazing, the pacing was great and the depth of it was what really captivated me. Also set in the mountains of Lebanon which was lovely to read about. ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my second read for Amin Maalouf and I simply loved the book and couldn't put it down until it's over. The author weaves historical facts in a story composed of fictional characters. The style of writing is easy to follow yet provides you the space to contemplate its deepness. ...more
Peta T.
Apr 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. I had previous knowledge of the conditions of living in Lebanon under the Ottoman Empire control, but this book gave such a more interesting, detailed, and realistic description of daily life under that reign. I also loved the critique and the humorous irony of the storytelling.
Zara Riches
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The tone and language of the book is quite old fashioned, so it took me a little while to get into the feel of the book, but I ended up really enjoying the plot.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A detailed exploration of the Middle East in the early 1800's. I read it to give me perspective on the ongoing wars the US is perpetuating. ...more
Kristin Selnes
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
My second Maalouf book. It might very well be a third one
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it !!
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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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“بمجاملتهم، جعلوا من الشيخ مستبداً ذا نزوات؛ و بعدوانيَّتهم، جننوا الشخص الذي خلفه.
جلُّ ما كان يبتغيه هو إرضاؤهم و التماس السماح، و قد كان مستعداً لتوزيع ثروته كلها من أجل أن يسمع من شفاههم كلمة امتنان.
فانتهى سكراناً في الليل يبحث عن مشغل النكت، و كانت ضحكاتهم تنفجر من البيوت المعتمة كلها.
أما أنا، فغادرت الضيعة لئلا أضحك لضحكهم، لكنني سأبكي ذات يومٍ لبكائهم.”
“قال لي طانيوس: "عرفت امرأة لا أتكلم لغتها ولا تتكلم لغتي، لكنها تنتظرني في أعلى السلم. ذات يوم سأعود و أدق بابها لأقول لها إن سفينتنا تتأهب للسفر."
حكمة البغَّال”
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