November 1979. Violence has broken out in the holiest site of Islam after a charismatic rebel and his devoted followers have announced the coming of the Mahdi and seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Among the insurgents is a young woman, Sarab, disguised as a man. As the horror and chaos of the siege reach their peak, she escapes and encounters a French officer from the opposing side. They form an unexpected bond, as hostility turns to attraction, but the violence of both of their pasts will return to haunt them. Award-winning writer Raja Alem’s extraordinary narrative stretches from Saudi Arabia’s Najd desert to the heart of Paris. In her typical bold and captivating style, this most unusual of love stories unpicks faith and fanaticism, alienation and redemption, and ultimately what it means to be human.