Sunday, November 15, 2009
the key to Paradise
Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol, is a book that I doubt I would have read had someone not put it in my hands. But I'm pretty glad someone did. This is a work of fiction, although it is bases on actual events and people.
Alamut is about a man named Hasan, who runs a fortress in Iran named Alamut. He is claimed to be a prophet who has been giving a key to Paradise by Allah. He trains young men as fedayeen to become religious martyrs to support his vendetta against the sultan.
I really enjoyed how the book begins by switching between a young man and young woman who both come to Alamut around the same time. The boy has a very strict and structured time, while the girl pretty much romps around in gardens. Both youngsters face very serious harsh realities soon though.
Hasan is a man trying to deal with some very deep spiritual issues. He does some horrible things to those in his care and when no god strikes him down he sees this as proof that either there is no god or that god does not care about what happens here on Earth. Even thought Hasan seems to be the bad guy in the story, one can't help but relate to his crisis of faith.
This book is very different from most of the books I've been reading lately. I haven't read a lot about the middle east and it was very enticing. The characters and descriptions were compelling. I would suggest this book to anyone, especially those interested in books that tackle spirituality.
"It's true, some wishes have miraculous power. They function as though they had substance, as though they were a hammer made of actual steel." - 371