Such a spectacular read!!! The story of Mani, now a completely forgotten figure, but the religion, known as Manichaeism, had once thrived all over the world. It was the religion of light and dark, the eternal loving father and the prince of darkness.
The story starts in the 3rd century, when a Parthian Warrior, by name Patek, gets mesmerized by a Jewish sage known as Sittai, who came to Babylonia from Palmyra, which was then a bastion of diverse cultures, populated by different religions. He has a young wife, by name Maryam, who loves him dearly. He decides to leave her in order to join the sect of the palm groves led by Sittai. Some days before the birth of her son, the prophet, she would have a dream in which the angels would take away her infant son which would terrify her!!!
The group bans everything related to earthly pleasures, saying it would contaminate the inner spiritual light. They would even take possession of Mani, the son of Patek, and the boy would grow up in the midst of these ascetics. But he rebels after getting a visitation from his ‘heavenly twin’, who inspires him to found his own new religious order.
He leaves the group, travels as wide as to India, and learns more about figures such as Lord Buddha, and his religion would take elements from Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. It was a message of peace, and everlasting love, where people could openly believe in whatever they want.
Soon, he would meet the Sassanian Sovereign, Shapur, who gets impressed. He gives Mani the much-needed protection to profess his faith. But in a curious twist of events, Shapur dies, succeeded by his son Hormisdas, who would eventually get poisoned by Kerder, the Chief Magi. The elder son of Shapur, Bahram would ascend the throne and with the orders of the evil Magi, he would see Mani executed.
This is a novel within the style of a Hollywood movie. Some characters you can’t ever forget, such as the eternal companion of Mani, Malchos, Denagh, the girl with the plaits, Chloe, who had a crush on Mani, Shapur, the divine emperor, Kerder, the evil Magi, Maalouf has a distinct and flowery style, with intense, vivid imageries.
My rating- 4/5