The Lion of Cairo by Scott Oden. Book review

THE LION OF CAIRO by Scott Oden. Bantam £7.99

Reviewed by Karen Stevens

The Hidden Master of Alamut, the lord of the al-Hashishiyya assassins, sends his right-hand man, Assad, known as the Emir of the Knife, to forge an alliance with Rashid al-Hasan, the Caliph of Egypt. This is no easy task as the caliph is kept in drugged ignorance by his corrupt vizier who has an eye to claiming the throne for himself, and there are two armies marching on Cairo: Shirkuh of Damascus and the crusader knights of Amalric, the king of Jerusalem. And lurking in the dark streets of Cairo is the sinister and evil Ibn Sharr, the necromancer and his servant, the former knight known as the Heretic, whose skills may match Assad’s own.

The Lion of Cairo is set during the 12th century, but is more of a swashbuckling adventure yarn with a dash of fantasy mixed in for good measure than a historical novel; this is the Middle East of Sinbad and Aladdin with the possibility of magic and danger. The main characters are well-drawn, particularly Assad and the trio of brave ladies willing to aid him, and the action is fast, furious and bloody, while the plots and counter-plots twist and turn. If historical adventure in an exotic locale is your thing then you should enjoy The Lion of Cairo