Sand Daughter – Sarah Bryant

Set in the Middle East during the 12th century crusades, this novel covers the build up to the infamous battle at the Horns of Hattin where Saladin and his Muslim forces trounced the faction ridden crusader armies led by King Guy de Lusignan.

Sarah Bryant tells the tale from the perspective of a young Bedouin girl and boy – Khalidah and Bilal – both half caste in the eyes of their nomad community and whose childhood ends and destinies diverge when Khalidah flees from a dynastic marriage, in the company of mysterious minstrel Sulayman. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the past, present and future of these three characters are more closely linked than first appears.

For me, there were the added incentives of maps showing that (for some characters at least) their travels would take them to Persia and the Hindu Kush, and lots of accurate historical detail in easily readable form.

This novel is in the same vein as, but better than, Elizabeth Chadwick; better because it covers a wider canvas than simply boy-meets-girl-and-after-various-trials-find-love-and-marriage.