Allah’s Architect by Mark Dewar
In the tenth century of the Christian era, the fourth century in Islam, an Arab philosopher in Baghdad said, ‘In the far west there is a ninth gate to paradise. It is called Al Andalus.’
Al Andalus was Spain in the period during which it was ruled by a dynasty of Arab caliphs whose administrative capital was Cordoba.
Allah’s Architect is about a powerful caliph of Cordoba, Hakam II, who styled himself ‘The Commander of the Faithful by the Grace of God’, and shows the extraordinary lengths to which he went to ensure his own passage through the Al Andalus gate to Paradise.
At the time of our novel the Caliphate of Cordoba was a highly sophisticated and culturally developed society peopled by a mix of Muslims, Jews and Christians, it was a place of science, philosophy, music and drama. In addition the caliphate had the vast military and naval resources which it required to keep rival dynasties at bay.
But the most powerful of caliphs have the most powerful of enemies. Within the caliphate there were those who made rival claims to the throne and others who would thwart the caliph’s ambitions by resorting to murder, rebellion or treachery or a combination of all three. There were double-dealing courtiers and officials with unbounded ambition and military men ready to conspire with foreign forces and revolutionaries within the caliphate itself in order to topple the caliph. As with all caliphates there is the constant threat of invasion. In the case of the Caliphate of Cordoba this threat was twofold, from the Christians to the North and from the Berbers just across the Mediterranean to the South.
This is the fourth book in the Cordoba series. It deals with murder, assassination, palace intrigue, pretenders to the throne, traitors and spies all presented against the backdrop of a fascinating period of European history the context of which is as colourful as it is complex.
This novel describes a crisis point in the affairs of the Caliphate of Cordoba. There are other books to come which must of necessity deal with the demise of the caliphs and the inevitable closing of that ninth gate to paradise in the West… Al Andalus.
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