" "Stories," she went on, "are an excellent way of escape." "
Safia is a girl whose soul belongs in the desert. Rare and beautiful as a desert flower, she is, however, a slave to the will of her father, who sells her in marriage to a passing Rajah who is captivated by her beauty. Taken to the cruel, violent Rajah's harem to become his 8th wife, Safia knows that when he discovers that she is not who he bargained for, he will have her put to death. As she awaits her death at the hands of her new husband, Safia spins a magical tale to a young, beautiful eunuch, Lalit, of a hero's quest across the desert to rescue the daughter of the Hindu god Krishna from a terrible marriage with the demon king Ravana.
Farhad Kamal is a thief, not a hero- at least until he lays his thief's hands on Krishna's silver amulet hidden in a lotus blossum and the god declares him to be the hero destined to rescue his daughter from the demon king. Despite his protests, Farhad must find a way to cross the desert and become a hero by the next full moon, or Krishna's daughter will be forever lost and Farhad's soul with her. Believing his quest impossible, Farhad sets out into the desert anyway, hoping to find the ride promised to him by Krishna, which is to be a mount faster than the clouds move in the air- if he can find such a mount. When he discovers a mysterious white tiger, whose voice only he can hear, held captive in a temple, Farhad begins to believe that the princess may just have a chance of rescue after all...
I love love loved this book! As Farhad and his white tiger, Nitish, journey across India, Michaelis's writing weaves such a spell of enchantment around you that you can almost smell the sandalwood incense and jasmine blossoms scenting the night air. As Lalit falls into Safia's story of Farhad's quest, imagining himself to be the boy who is quickly becoming a hero, you find yourself falling into Safia's story of Farhad, and wondering how the two will come together to determine the fate of the lovely Safia and her friend Lalit, the thief Farhad and his white tiger Nitish. You also find yourself asking where stories end and real life begins... and if they are separate at all. Read Tiger Moon to find out!
(who's excited to start Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan over dinner- it looks delightfully creepy!)