Moving from present-day Scotland to the court of the Tsar, The Kindness of Enemies is an epic of love and betrayal, reconciliation and war. Natasha is an academic researching Imam Shamil, a nineteenth-century warrior who battled to protect the wild mountains of the Caucasus from Russian invasion. In 1839, Shamil was forced to surrender his eldest son as proof of his commitment to peace. But the fighting continues despite his sacrifice, and Shamil is left bereft. Fifteen years later, Shamil captures a Princess of Georgia, and vows only to exchange her for the safe return of his son. But by now his son is a favourite of the Tsar, and enjoys the trappings of the Russian court. If forced to return, will he be the boy that Shamil remembers? And can Shamil give up the Princess, a woman to whom he is increasingly drawn? When Natasha realises her star student, Oz, is descended from Shamil, she is drawn into the alluring world of his family. But Oz is determined to carry on the fight of his forefathers, and Natasha finds her home, career, and the fragile foundations of her life, in grave danger.
The passages are arresting in their descriptiveness, with beautiful pockets of calm in which the spiritual journey, as advocated by Shamil's Sufi teacher, is explored. THE INDEPENDENT 20150808
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