From Kirkus Reviews
A young girl, Marjan, rescues the fabled Shahrazad from the Sultan's wrath in this exciting and thought-provoking novel from Fletcher (Flight of the Dragon Kyn, 1993, etc.). With her crippled foot, Marjan never expects to be dragged off to the palace, but that is what happens after a chance meeting with Shahrazadthe storyteller who wins her life each night with cliffhanging stories for the sultan, and who obtains a story from Marjan. Heartbroken at leaving her Aunt Chava and her Uncle Eli, Marjan confronts cruelty within the palace's lush interior, where wives and concubines can be executed at the sultan's whim, and where the Khatun, the sultan's mother, spies on everyone. Dispatched by Shahrazad to find more stories, Marjan sneaks out into the marketplace, where she eventually finds an old storyteller who tells her the end of a story of which the sultan has become fond. Beaten and imprisoned by the Khatun, Marjan escapes the palace, only to return and tell the sultan an allegory that enables him to realize his love for Shahrazad, and to spare her life. Despite the licenses Fletcher takes with the story of Shahrazad, the novel may entice readers into the pages of Richard Burton's far richer work; they will appreciate the power of storytellingthat it may expand the soul of even the most hardened listener.
a favorite of my book-loving daughter
Marjan helps Shahrazad by finding new stories for her to tell in order to continue to live.
Marjan is supposed to help Shahrazad find new stories to tell the Sultan. She gets involved in a story of her own, along the way.
Although this is an interesting and somewhat original storyline, the subject matter is not appropriate for children, especially boys. The setting, a harem, will obviously elicit questions... but there are some explicit phrases and concepts in the book which are completely unnecessary. The story would have been just as good without those parts.
This is a Sonlight 5 book.
From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-9 - Marjan, a young storyteller in ancient Persia, inadvertently takes a new story to Shahrazad. The Queen has been entertaining her husband for nearly 1000 nights and she's growing desperate. The Sultan loves the tale, which he vaguely remembers from his childhood, but requests the ending. Shahrazad makes the girl a part of the harem in order to get it, but learns that she has told all that she knows. Marjan leaves the harem, a dangerous move indeed, and tracks down an old man at the bazaar who was the source. She makes some surprising connections between the outside world and the harem and, in a final face to face with the Sultan, reveals much about herself, the power of story, and the grace of redemption. There are no weak spots in the telling of this tale. Even the minor characters make real impressions. The voices are clear and the dialogue works beautifully. As strong as these points are, it is the structure that really makes this book sing. Everything is carefully laid out for readers in a measured fashion that keeps the pages turning. The "Lessons for Life and Storytelling" that open each chapter boldly state the truths any storyteller knows and are echoed in the narrative. Marjan's crippled foot perfectly mirrors the Sultan's crippled trust. In both of their cases, it is a story that breaks through the flinty walls around their hearts. After much tension and adventure, there are believable, happy endings all around. An elegantly written novel that will delight and entertain even as it teaches, just as any good tale does.APatricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
I enjoyed this story so much, I decided to pull down my copy of "ARABIAN NIGHTS" Which I will read to begin my celebration of Banned Books Month (October)