The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi

A Novel

496 pages

English language

Published Dec. 20, 2023 by HarperCollins Publishers.

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5 stars (4 reviews)

Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.

But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.

Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. …

4 editions

Very entertaining

4 stars

This was a great, captivating read. Truly an adventure book. I don't think there are many fantasy novels set in this region and it was an additional treat to read about places we mostly know from wars and crises, like Aden and Mogadishu, when they were in their prime. The characters are great and have interesting backstories. The main villain was perhaps a bit too one-sidedly evil. The others had more nuance. And I could have done with one or two fewer action scenes. But those are small criticisms. It was very enjoyable to read this book and I recommend it. I hope we'll see Amina and her crew again.

This should be on every fantasy lovers book list

5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! What's not to love: it has pirates, monsters, the supernatural, sword fights, magic fights, and adventures galore.

I don't want to include any spoilers, but the plot revolves around Amina al-Sirafi, a retired female pirate captain living in 12th/13th Century Arabia. Due to ... events ... she is lured back onto the ocean for one last irresistable treasure hunt. Although, just like Jake & Elwood, first she has to get the band, or rather her crew, back together.

This book is filled with well-rounded and unforgettable characters, and takes the reader on a fantastic journey around the lands and peoples bordering the Indian Ocean of 800 years ago. With, as previously stated, a very hefty dose of magic and fantasy thrown in as well. Definitely worth a read.

Legendary Pirate Queen

5 stars

I was thoroughly charmed by this book — an adventure-filled, magical story of a pirate queen who became a legend. It took an era that I know nothing about — the seafaring cultures of the 12th century Indian Ocean, especially focused on Oman, Yemen, and Somalia, as filtered through the 1001 Nights, and gave it a contemporary twist by focusing on the glorious Amina al-Sarafi. She’s a Muslim former pirate who has retired to raise her daughter, but gets pulled into One Last Heist by being offered an eye-popping sum of money to go rescue the kidnapped child of one of her former crew. An early chapter in which she successfully defends two idiots who are looking for treasure from an angry sea demon sets the tone for later encounters with creatures more and more magical. Amina has a live-and-let-live attitude toward her queer crew members, which is refreshing. The …