THE NOONDAY SUN BURNED THROUGH THE DENSE LAYER
of dust and pollutants that hung over the ancient city like a
soiled blanket. With the temperature well over the century mark, few people lingered about the hot stones that paved the central court of al-Azhar Mosque.
Situated in eastern Cairo some two miles from the Nile, al-Azhar stood as one of the city’s most historic structures. Originally constructed in the year 970 A.D. by Fatimid conquerors, the mosque was rebuilt and expanded through the centuries, ultimately attaining status as Islam’s fifth most important mosque. Elaborate stone carvings, towering minarets, and onion-domed spires vied for the eye’s attention, reflecting a thousand years of artistry. Amid its fortresslike stone walls, the centerpiece of the complex was a wide rectangular court surrounded by rising arcades on every side.
In the shade of an arcade portico, a slight man in baggy trousers and a loose-fitting shirt wiped clean a pair of tinted glasses, then surveyed the courtyard. In the heat of the day, only a small number of youths were about, studying the architecture or walking in silent meditation. They were students from the adjacent al-Azhar University, a preeminent institution for Islamic learning in the Middle East. The man touched a thick beard that covered his own youthful face, then lifted a worn backpack to his shoulder. With a white cotton keffiyeh wrapped about his head, he easily passed as just another theology student.
Stepping into the sunlight, he trekked across the court toward the southeast arcade. The façade above the keel-shaped arches featured a series of ornate roundels and niches cut into the stucco, which he noticed had become favored roosting spots for some local pigeons. He walked toward a protruding central arch topped by a high rectangular panel, which signified the entrance to the prayer hall.
The call to midday salat, or prayer, had occurred nearly an hour earlier, leaving the expansive prayer hall nearly empty. Outside the foyer, a small group of students sat cross-legged on the ground, listening to a university instructor lecture on the Qur’an. Skirting around the group, the man approached the hall entry. There he met a bearded man in a white robe, who eyed him sternly. The visitor removed his shoes and quietly offered a blessing to Muhammad, then proceeded in with a nod from the doorman.
The prayer hall was an open expanse of red carpet punctuated
by dozens of alabaster pillars that rose to a beamed ceiling. As in most mosques, there were no pews or ornate altars to provide orientation. Cupola-shaped patterns in the carpet, outlying individual positions of prayer, pointed toward the head of the hall. Noting that the bearded doorman no longer paid him any attention, the man made his way quickly along the pillars.
Copyright © 2010 by Sandecker, RLLLP
In A.D. 327, a Roman galley is attacked by pirates willing to take extraordinary losses to seize its mysterious cargo. In 1916, a British warship is lost in the North Sea, felled not by German torpedoes but by an explosion that destroys it from within. And in the present day, a cluster of important mosques are wracked by violent bombings.
Does anything tie them together? National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) director Dirk Pitt is about to find out. When he foils a heist at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, it earns him the ire of a radical Fundamentalist group with an interest in stealing ancient Roman artifacts found in Turkey and Israel…and a plan to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire at any cost. But modern-day terrorists aren’t Pitt’s only problem. Also at stake is the long-lost Manifest, an ancient document, that, if discovered, could irrevocably change the history of the world as we know it….
The long awaited return of Dirk Pitt, Al Giordano and the rest of the NUMA team, Crescent Dawn is classic Clive Cussler—an action-packed tale of international intrigue, archaeological authenticity and good, old-fashioned adventure that’s impossible to put down.
Hardcover Book : 560 pages
Publisher: Penguin Putnam, Inc. ( November 16, 2010 )
Item #: 13-193818
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 1.26inches
Product Weight: 19.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I have not read this book as of yet, but I will as soon as I can. I own 14 of Clive Cusslers books and will own others,No doubt this book will be as good if not better than all the rest,Thank you for all the excellant books.
Reviewer: Linda D