Title: Travelers Along the Way: A Robin Hood Remix
Author: Aminah Mae Safi
Jerusalem, 1192. The Third Crusade rages on. Rahma al-Hud loyally followed her elder sister Zeena into the war over the Holy Land, but now that the Faranji invaders have gotten reinforcements from Richard the Lionheart, all she wants to do is get herself and her sister home alive.
But Zeena, a soldier of honor at heart, refuses to give up the fight while Jerusalem remains in danger of falling back into the hands of the false Queen Isabella. And so, Rahma has no choice but to take on one final mission with her sister.
On their journey to Jerusalem, Rahma and Zeena come across a motley collection of fellow travelers―including a softspoken Mongolian warrior, an eccentric Andalusian scientist, a frustratingly handsome spy with a connection to Rahma’s childhood, and an unfortunate English chaplain abandoned behind enemy lines. The teens all find solace, purpose and camaraderie―as well as a healthy bit of mischief―in each other’s company.
But their travels soon bring them into the orbit of Queen Isabella herself, whose plans to re-seize power in Jerusalem would only guarantee further war and strife in the Holy Land for years to come. And so it falls to the merry band of misfits to use every scrap of cunning and wit (and not a small amount of thievery) to foil the usurper queen and perhaps finally restore peace to the land.
My Thoughts: I love, love, love this book. It was so much fun to spend time with Rahma and her companions as they made their way from one adventure to another. From the beginning I appreciated the relationship between Rahma and her sister Zeena. They are constantly fighting, but love each other fiercely. The other relationships with the friends they collect along their journey are also quite interesting. There are moments when they bristle with each other, but those times are also balanced with plenty of warmth and laughter.
Like with the other novels in this collection, the author has not only retold the original story, but has remixed it. Obviously, there are way more women in this version, but there is also the addition of multiple religious perspectives. Most stories involving the crusades are very much focused on Christianity and Islam and generally in European lit that has a heavy handed slant in favor of the Christian perspective. Aminah Mae Safi has shown that those are not the only two possibilities in this part of the world and that there was a whole history there before the invaders arrived.
Recommendation: Get it now. Anyone with even the slightest interest in Robin Hood should definitely give this a try. There’s a lot of action, a little bit of romance, and quite a few women who are proving over and over again that there is so much more to them than pretty eyes and hair. Historical fiction fans will also enjoy this tale. Safi paints a vivid picture of the time and place and makes research seem like a lovely follow up to reading.
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley
Availability: On shelves now