I regret to announce that the publication of Spices, Saints, and Saracens has been cancelled. As a Christian evangelist in a time of great anxiety over and military conflict with Muslim empires, Fabri sometimes writes with contempt of Islam and Muhammad. The publisher felt that these words would be inflammatory and insulting to some readers and that no amount of historical contextualization would mitigate this.
My editor and I spent many months trying to find a compromise and, while we are both disappointed that none could be found, I appreciate the amount of good faith effort he and his staff put in and the amount of patience with which they approached this dilemma.
In one of the most important and entertaining accounts of medieval pilgrimage, Felix Fabri, a German Dominican friar, narrates his adventures in 1483, returning through Egypt after making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Mt. Sinai. It is Ramadan, the Nile is flooding, and the pilgrims race to meet their ships in Alexandria before they are left behind. Along the way they are lost in the desert, troubled by crocodiles, and fleeced by their duplicitous hosts. Sometimes philosophical, often comic, Fabri’s fascinating eyewitness account of Cairo and Alexandria under the Mamluk sultan in the last days of Egypt’s control of the spice trade is filled with stories and details that will ring true to anyone who has ever traveled off the beaten path or on a budget, as well as supplying a wealth of information for social historians of the medieval world.