Mistress of Abha, William Newton
The book begins in the early part of the 1900's. A young boy, Ivor Willoughby, desperately missing his military father, who is stationed in the Middle East in a territory from which he cannot return for regular visits and eventually, for none at all, makes it his life's dream to one day, grow up and search for him. He follows his father's path into the military and when he posts to the same region, discovers that his father is somewhat of a legend, called Ullobi, but no one will either discuss him or else no one really knows where he is currently. However, his adventures precede him wherever he turns up. Coincidentally, he runs into people who knew his father and begins to piece together a history for him complete with a female warrior of fantastic strength and courage whose identity is hidden, possibly for her own protection, from the Wahhabis who would punish her if they knew she was a warrior.
Told with a subtle humor and hints of historic memory about the birth of the various nations of the Middle East and their quest for domination and/or independence, this story moves along, almost like a fantasy. At times, I am not sure if the memory is one related to reality or a supernatural being. Some of the words are confusing since their origin is from Arabia and the language is foreign. Sometimes I felt as if I was dropped into the cauldron and had to figure out what else was in there with me. Bits and pieces of the story are told in flashbacks by the characters he meets. Fortunately, there is a list of characters and descriptions in the front of the book. This is really helpful when trying to sort it all out. There is also a map and a list of tribes, all of which are really necessary to reorient yourself in the book, now and again.
Although I did not find it an easy read, as it moved around sometimes seemingly at random, I was always drawn back into the story by the beautiful way it was written.