"The Edge of Darkness" is a sweeping historical novel set in twelfth century Spain, whose protagonist Rabban Avraham Ibn Amram is modeled after Rabban Avraham Ibn Ezra, the eminent sage of the time. It is a turbulent time in Spain, a time full of uncertainties brought on by the ebb and flow of Christian and Muslim conquest and internecine fighting and by the ominous rise in the power of the Church. For the Jews of Spain, it is also a time of particularly painful internal strife between the traditional Rabbanite Jews and the heretical Karaite sect. A figurative darkness threatens to engulf Spain from all sides, but there is also a literal darkness looming on the horizon, a solar eclipse predicted by the astronomers. Superstitious fears run rampant through the countryside, putting unbearable strain on an already fragile and uneasy peace. In this crises atmosphere, the young King Alfonso turns to the wise and venerable Rabban Avraham Ibn Amram and appoints him as his personal emissary to the Muslim emir in a last desperate effort to forge a truce and avert disaster. As Rabban Ibn Amram, accompanied by his young student Joseph Vitale, sets out on this momentous journey, the burden of his mission, and its vital significance for the Jews of Spain, weighs heavily on his shoulders. Obstacles, difficulties and moral dilemmas appear at every turn, but the old man and the boy drive themselves beyond the limits of human endurance. Can they arrest the creeping approach of the edge of darkness? Can they prevent the calamity that threatens to befall Spain and the Jews? "The Edge of Darkness" is an exciting and panoramic book, full of adventure and vivid images of exotic people and places, but it is also a profound and thought-provoking book that probes deeply into the hearts and souls of its characters and into the burning issues of the times. In the end, the lessons of this book are timeless, and they linger on long after the last page has been reluctantly turned.
by Avraham Tzuri
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