From the mysteriously beautiful, richly hued landscape of the Saharan mountains to the sumptuous splendor of nineteenth-century Paris, Empires of Sand is a novel that takes us on an extraordinary, powerfully emotional journey. In a clash between two civilizations, two men of common blood discover that in war, love, and even family, they are both destined to be outsiders....
The year is 1870. The proud Republic of France is crumbling under the onslaught of the Prussian army. Paris is under siege. Too young to understand the shifting fortunes of the empire, two boys forge a bond with their breathless adventures in the tunnels beneath the threatened city. Paul deVries is the cousin and constant companion of Michel deVries--called Moussa--whose world-explorer father shocked Paris with his marriage to a noblewoman of the Sahara. Moussa will inherit the title of count; Paul is destined to be a soldier like his father. But tragic events will send Moussa fleeing to his mother's homeland, with its brooding mountains, its hidden caves and fortresses. And the two boys who have been the closest of friends are fated as men to become the bitterest of enemies--victims of history and the scheming of scoundrels.
They meet again on the Sahara's blazing sands, one as part of a foolhardy French expeditionary force, the other with the nomadic Tuareg, a majestic race of veiled warriors who live and die by flashing swords and a harsh desert code of honor. On this unforgettable, ever-shifting landscape, Paul and Moussa are swept into another war, one far more brutal than anything they have experienced.
Paul is obsessed with a quest for personal vengeance and honor. And Moussa, in love with a woman betrothed to an implacable Tuareg warrior, searches for the peace he knew as a child in France. Now they both face a challenge of sheer, harrowing survival: whether to follow the call of their shared blood...or the destiny written in the treacherous sands.
Empires of Sand is a grand novel of adventure in the best tradition of historical fiction. With its astounding scenes of the desert and its rich cast of characters--soldiers, lovers, slaves, and zealots--this is a reading experience to be treasured and remembered long after the final page is turned.
About David Ball
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Published August 3, 1999
History, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference.