About Jurji Zaidan

Introductory Summary

The Conquest of Andalusia | The Battle of Poitiers | The Caliph's Sister

The Caliph's Heirs | Saladin and the Assassins

About the Novel | The Historical Context | The Translator | Afterword | Study Guide

About the Novel

This novel weaves parallel love stories, political intrigue and machinations, nobility and treachery, spies and counterspies all against the backdrop of the historical events surrounding the war between al-Amin and al-Ma’mun, sons of Harun al-Rashid, the most famous ‘Abbasid caliph. Behzad is a famous doctor with an agenda all his own who lives outside Baghdad and whose comings and goings are not easily traceable. He and Maymuna are both members of well-known Persian families persecuted by earlier Abbasid Caliphs and are deeply in love; but the son of al-Amin’s Hashemite vizier is also enamored with Maymuna and wants to marry her. Behzad’s and Maymuna’s love unfolds as part of the narrative of political intrigue that shows how the Persians helped al-Ma’mun, with inferior forces, to prevail and conquer Baghdad. A parallel love story develops between Buran, the niece of al-Ma’mun’s Persian vizier, and Salman, a “servant” of Behzad; but Buran’s family has promised to marry her to no less than the Caliph al-Ma’mun himself. How do all these lovers make out? Who wins and who perishes? The fast-paced action and suspense leave us guessing to the very end. At the nexus of all these relationships is al-Amin’s mysterious Chief Astrologer, whose true identity and loyalties remain unknown to al-Amin and his court. He not only presumes to divine the future but also wants to shape it. And he sets out to influence the outcome of all these love affairs; to shape the battle between the two brothers; and then to influence al-Ma’mun’s succession.

The Caliph's Heirs


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Opera on the Life of Jurji Zaidan
(in Arabic) attended by the
President of Egypt

Prelude with Speeches of Literary Figures


Jurji Zaidan and his Family

Centennial Celebrations
of Dar-al-Hilal