Thursday, July 4, 2019

None Such As She (Moorish Empire #3), by Melissa Addey

Letterpress Publishing, June 2019

In A String of Silver Beads, we met Zaynab as the dangerous and powerful rival of Kella, Yusuf bin Tashfin's first wife. In None Such As She, we see Zaynab from her own point of view, starting as a child, just ten years old, when her own father takes a second wife. Child Zaynab is easy to like. She loves her parents. She's a rebellious child, happy to run and play with the street children when she can. She's bright and lively. She's fond of her servant Miryam, and wary of her mother's servant, Hela, who is a mistress of herbal medicine, and seemingly a scholar as only a man should be.

When Zaynab grows to an age where she's eligible for marriage, she's not comfortable with the way she is frankly assessed for her assets as a potential wife and bearer of children, as well as her father's wealth and connections are a successful rug merchant. Yet there is not avoiding it. In time, one of the men who comes to her father's dinner table is Yusuf bin Ali, a lord but not an amir, who speaks to her, she says, like a person. It's the start of her career.

She's made a mistake. Not a terrible one; Yusuf bin Ali is a good man. It's just too bad that she doesn't find out till too late that he has a first wife, who has already given him five sons. He loves that first wife, and is merely fond of Zaynab.

Her worst mistake is something she does in an attempt to secure Yusuf's interest in her.

By the time she meets Yusuf bin Tashfin, she is married to her third husband,who also has a first wife whom he loves. And that mistake she made all those years ago, with her first husband, is continuing to bear fruit, both good and bad. She wants a husband who loves her. She has a brilliant strategic mind. Yet with all her marriages, she has never been first in her husband's eyes.

And she has a brilliant strategic mind, but a damaged, unhappy heart.

This is the story of a complicated woman, who has every reason to think herself not a villain, and every reason for Kella and others around her to think she is a villain. It's compelling and fascinating.


I received a free electronic galley from the author via Booksprout, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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