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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Hasdai in the Golden Age of Al-Andalus is a fascinating work of historical fiction penned by author Richard Malmed. In this cross-cultural and deeply detailed fictional work, we find the action centered around Hasdai Shaprut, who lives and works within the harmonious civilization of Andalus (Spain) in the tenth century. In a region where followers of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths were able to live side by side in peace, Hasdai’s journey shows us his work serving as an advisor to the caliph, but also as a medical doctor and the founder of an important yeshiva back at home. What follows is a fascinating look at culture, its similarities, and differences, through the eyes of one man’s experience.
As with all historical fiction, research is key, and I found detail and authenticity on every page of author Richard Malmed’s work. It was wonderful to learn about a period that I knew very little about, and the information is skilfully presented through scenery and discussion between the characters, rather than being told in a textbook fashion. Malmed also gives great compassion to his cast of characters, not least the leading man, Hasdai. His presentation transcends any aspect of race or religion, portraying him as a relatable man of faith who strives to do good works and do his duty to those who employ him. Overall, Hasdai in the Golden Age of Al-Andalus is a highly informative and immersive historical work with much to teach modern-day readers about the peace of the past.