Just excellent. Action, suspense, wit, an amazing setting, and great characters.
Safi reimagines the Robin Hood legend during the height of the Third Crusade in "the Holy Land, with all its names for God and all its pilgrims and all its war" with a female Muslim protagonist.
Rahma and her sister must sneak out of the coastal city of Akko (Acre), just recaptured by the Christians, because those Europeans don't recognize female soldiers as legitimate. Through the sleeping armies of Richard I of England (the Lionheart) and Yusuf ibn Ayyub, al-Nasir (Saladin) and on the road to Jerusalem. Later, skirting around a giant caravan, they see a horse being mistreated and Rahma can't stop herself from setting it free (though it chooses to stay with them). Only after that do they learn they have stolen the Queen of Jerusalem's prize horse and Rahma, with her recognizable green hood, now has a price on her head. So they go from being soldiers on the run to outlaws.
One thing leads to another, and soon Rahma and Zeena have both fallen into ever greater thefts as a means of avoiding capture and collected a group of fellow travelers, making friends of the common people along the way.
"You are a motley crew.
"You are a Muslim, as is the girl you hold back. But then you have a Christian boy with you. A Templar, by the looks of him. Then there's the fierce rider and her horse--she's from the land of the horse lords." He turns, looking to Viva last. "And I'm not sure what that girl's faith might be, but she's not from here."
Viva is a Jew from the Iberian Peninsula, what is now Spain and Portugal, and they are sometimes joined by a childhood friend--the sisters are from the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers--who is now a spy from Byzantium. Just like the land they are in, they are crew of many faiths and backgrounds, drawn to the conflict, but hoping to find peace.
The heists and capers grow in scale until they end up having a secret pivotal role in the outcome of international events.
I loved the melding of adventure, history, and cultures. Most excellent.