The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi

A Novel

496 pages

English language

Published Dec. 20, 2023 by HarperCollins Publishers.

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4 stars (3 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

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 …

The Adventures of Amina al-Sarafi

4 stars

Now this was the sort of pirate queen adventure I was expecting when I had read Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea. (That book is historical pirate politics and internal musings about power and this book is more fantasy adventure; I liked them both, they're just different.)

Amina al-Sarafi is a middle-aged pirate queen who gets blackmailed out of retirement into "one last job", gets the criminal gang back together, and ultimately faces off against a sorcerer and his sea monster (as if the cover doesn't give you this hint). (Also, gender stuff! You love to see it.)

It's set in the same world as her Daevabad trilogy although you don't need to have read those books at all. (You might appreciate a single character briefly appearing as well as the lawyer parrots, but that's about the extent of it.) My opinion here is that this is …