Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Semerkant” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.23  ·  Rating details ·  19,655 ratings  ·  1,605 reviews
Amin Maalouf, Afrikalı Leo'dan sonra bu kez Doğu'ya, İran'a bakıyor. Ömer Hayyam'ın Rubaiyat'ının çevresinde dönen iç içe iki öykü... 1072 yılında, Hayyam'ın Semerkant'ında başlayan ve 1912'de Atlantik'te bit(mey)en bir serüven... Bir elyazmasının yazılışının ve yüzlerce yıl sonra okunurken onun ve İran'ın tarihinin de okunuşunun öyküsü / tarihi...
Paperback, 318 pages
Published 2001 by Yapı Kredi Yayınları (first published 1988)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Semerkant, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Husna Karaboga Agree! I found last two parts are very subjective. It summarizes the snobby vision of western world about east

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  19,655 ratings  ·  1,605 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Semerkant
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 order
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
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: MENA
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
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this for the first time three years ago at school, I read the Turkish translation since unfortunately I don't know French which this masterpiece is originally written in, and I fell in love. Re-reading it now I fell in love all over again. What a privilege to be able to read such an amazing book, not once but twice, and in not one but two languages.

The first half of this book starts in 1072 and follows the famous poet and scientist Omar Khayyam (Ömer Hayyam in Turkish) as he travels and
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
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
Sidharth Vardhan
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: list-1001, asia

"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 that
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
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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

Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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 ...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,
Ty Melgren
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, but

Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who like novels based on historical fact.
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
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many reasons why I loved this book: 1. It's very well written. 2. It's a great source of information about so many historical events that had gone through centuries. By reading this book I have learned some history from the turn of the second millennium about Omar El Khayyam, The Assassins and the Seljuk Empire. Then I have also learned about the Persian constitutional revolution at the turn of the last century in the second millennium. And last, I have also learned a little about ...more
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.
Oğuz Tutal
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Easy to read, a beautiful blend of fiction and historical reality. For the people who interest with the Middle East, Omar Khayyam and Islamic enlightenment will like it.
Zainab Ismaeel
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if it wasn't of translation limitations..
I would've enjoyed this book more..
but still.. amazing..
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice journey dating back to Khayyam's times to 1912, from east to west with a tragic end. It is fun to read as a mixture of reality and dreams, yet it's necessary not to forget that it is a fiction. There are some historical references on Iran's complicated political development, and most of the author's comments demonstrate reality in an unbiased manner. At some perspectives, it embellishes the orient culture, but at the same time widens up the gap between people and cultures. Of course there ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lebanese, francais
for the 3rd time maybe.
Personally I find this to be one of Amin's Maalouf best work.

An extraordinary book, describing the life of Omar Khayyam, the Sufi poet known for his Rubaiyat
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
From 11 to 20 century, the story follows destiny of one book, white takes us through the Persian cities, destroyed in numerous wars, covered with layers of sand, and the only heritage of the former developed culture is one mysterious book written by the outstanding Persian scientist and philosopher Omar Khayyam ...
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, own-books
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Interlink Publishing Group (September 1, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1566562937
ISBN-13: 978-1566562935

The story of Samarkand is very long, not by the count of pages, but by the extent of time in history that it takes us through. Obviously, as the name suggests, it's the story of 'the philosopher of the world' and a great poet from the East, Omar Khayyam. The book is written in four parts, as it takes us through many emotional moments in the saga of Persian
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
May 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Daisy
I loved this book when I first read it in 1996 and had initially rated it 5 stars based on what i remembered feeling about it at that time; i actually remembered very few details. I was somewhat afraid to re-read it because of that. But I'm glad I did. The first time I read it the places and events were totally new to me, this time that wasn't the case. It was fun and interesting to be more comfortable with religious and historical details. The thing that irked, however, was the language. I'm ...more
Rami Hamze
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arabic, 2018
Brilliant work by Amin Maalouf... historical fiction is not my usual cup of tea, but this was written perfectly making me more interested in the Persian history. plot is around renowned poet/ mathmatician Omar El Khayyam in 10th century and how his "rubaiyaat" poems influenced the shahs and sultans back then... the story jumps in second half to 19th century when an american journalist is in search for the rubaiyaat amidst political turmoil in Iran/ old persia... it is said that the only copy of ...more
ianca rebel
I didn't really like the book, mainly because of the style it was translated (or even written), unfortunately. I failed at understanding Khayyam's wisdom which was slightly visible across some passages. Interesting perspective into the Persian Empire, but made me wonder how much of it is actually true. Well, maybe a good point here - it determines me to look into it and learn more about it. Otherwise, a pretty boring book if you're not into history books.. Sorry, a big disappointment for me.
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
when I became intrigued by the oriental historic scent , I can not lay down the novel for a moment. however , I didn't enjoy the last book "A poet at sea" because it was more or less deprived of the former kind of scent.

khayam poems ,, assassins plots ,,religious retuals ,political situation and the monarch and other upheavals,all depict small part of the persian ancient life's.

Maalouf excell on novelising historical events into an integrated ,charming fiction.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
أفضل ما أبدأ به لأمين معلوف 5 71 Jan 27, 2015 07:19AM  
Middle East/North...: Samarkand (Jan-Feb 2012) 66 65 Oct 03, 2013 08:27PM  
Bookoholics: Samarkand - Amine Maalouf 2 14 Jul 20, 2013 03:21PM  
Around the World: Iran - Nile daughter recommends Samarkand 3 36 Nov 02, 2011 10:34PM  
sufi 1 52 Sep 06, 2011 11:08PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Alamut
  • Puslu Kıtalar Atlası
  • Kürk Mantolu Madonna
  • Satranç
  • Kuyucaklı Yusuf
  • İçimizdeki Şeytan
  • Serenad
  • Bir Ömür Nasıl Yaşanır?
  • Aylak Adam
  • İnce Memed 1 (İnce Memed, #1)
  • Amok Koşucusu
  • Suskunlar
  • Kardeşimin Hikâyesi
  • İnsan Ne İle Yaşar?
  • Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü
  • Chess Story
  • درخت زیبای من
  • Son Ada
See similar books…
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
“لا تعجب لشيء، إن للحقيقة و جهين، و للناس أيضا” 237 likes
“إن كنت لا تعرف الحب ، فما يجديك شروق الشمس أو غروبها ؟” 143 likes
More quotes…