Stone Lions has been awarded the AI Seal of Excellence for Independent Literature. Stone Lions will be receiving a special update very soon, stay tuned for more info!
Ara lives in the palace of her father, the Sultan of Alhambra, the capitol of C in ancient Muslim Spain, and that palace faces a terrible danger. Fueled by ambition to rule the fabulous palace himself, the wazir Abd al-Rahmid has secretly counteracted the palace’s mathemagical protections in order to bring down its defenses against the nation’s enemies. But Ara is the only one who knows that the wazir is responsible for the dark magic. She is a girl, so who will listen to her.
When Tahirah, the Sufi Mathemagician travels to the palace, she feels the evil that assaults the palace and searches for someone in the palace to help her unravel the mysterious attacks. With the help of her cousin, Layla, and a trusted teacher named Suleiman, can Ara help Tahirah to save the Alhambra from the evil wazir, or will the sultan, the palace, and Ara herself fall into the evil hands of the dark magician?
Stone lions offers a lot of fun and excitement in a fresh atmosphere that I haven’t ever seen before. Islamic mysticism, which I had never heard of, gave the whole tale a unique twist from characters to scenery. The symmetry quest was a lot of fun and Ara’s part in saving her home felt really good as a reader. When Suleiman transformed, the addition of humor worked well and brought more light heartedness to the action.
Thought Islam featured in the story and its observances were part of the characters’ lives, I didn’t feel the book counted as a religious tale. The religion served more as setting and perspective than a subject.
Ara’s character was sweet and inspiring with her love for her people and home, and her brave curiosity. The character often forgot her peril in girlish enthusiasm and her loyalty helped unite the other characters too. The foil of the shy Layla served to endear the parts of Ara that might make her seem aggressive or mischievous. Layla highlighted and brought out Ara’s kind heart and true intentions.
Gwen has crafted a smooth and enjoyable story. This is a book that should be on every young adult’s bookshelf. 5 stars.