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Tarr is a real master of historical detail and the creator of a magical past that is internally consistent and complements the scholarly past seemlessly. In the Dagger and the Cross, she returns to the Crusader Kingdom and displays her understanding of political pressures in both the Christian and the Islamic worlds. The dilemma that motivates the action -- the need for a papal dispensation for marriage between a nominally Christian mage prince and a half-wild Muslim afrit -- does not have much emotional force, but the supporting characters are strong, the sociological framework is credible, and the spiritual evil of intolerance in the Inquistors is satisfyingly threatening.
This book is a sequel to Alamut, and essential listening for those who treasure that brilliant work of fantastic historical imagination.
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