In the beginning was the king, and the king had farr, the mystical light that emanates from God's chosen rulers.Thus begins the Persian epic "Shahnameh," composed between 980 and 1010 by the poet Abolqasem Ferdowsi. Translated for the first time into English by a professor of Persian with the unlikely name of Dick Davis, "Shahnameh" is Persian history viewed through the triumphs and tragedies of its royals, who ruled the country now known as Iran from mythological times until the seventh century, when Arab invasions subsumed Persia into a burgeoning Islamic empire.While the repetitive plot lines characteristic of epic poems will ring familiar to fans of the genre — tales of Eden lost, of conflict, war, jealousy and greed, and of Eden restored by conquest — the book's exotic Persian settings and ornate, often metaphorical narrative style set this epic apart. King after king, here, is described as being "like a tall cypress tree, topped by the full moon." [...]
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