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A side order of couscous

He was eventually made a guard in the royal household on the fringes of the royal harem. He was on duty one night when the sultan banged on the outer door demanding to be let into the harem. According to protocol he was supposed to send advance warning of a conjugal visit. The boy now 15 shouted through the door telling Ismail that "he must be an impostor" since the real sultan was so honourable that he would never break palace protocol in such a way. Pellow then fired a warning shot to frighten the "impostor" away, and listened while the sultan described the revenge he would take in the morning.

Yet the sultan recognised Pellow's loyalty and he rose further within the household, eventually becoming a personal attendant and carrying a wooden club with which Ismail would frequently "knock his people on the head". Further adventures included being sent to command a remote garrison fort, being assigned a Muslim wife with whom he had a child, and two failed attempts at escape. The deaths of Pellow's wife and daughter perhaps provided him with the final incentive and, after a slave-capturing expedition across the Sahara, he eventually found passage on a ship to the British colony at Gibraltar.


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He reached London in In an Odysseus-like homecoming to Penryn, he was amazed to find his parents still alive. He eventually went on to write a best-selling account of his travels - a document on which Milton understandably draws heavily. It is not just Pellow's extraordinary life that holds the attention in White Gold.

Behind Moulay Ismail's despotic personality Milton detects "vainglorious dreams of restoring Morocco to a position in which the country would be considered the equal of the great powers in Europe". Capturing large numbers of white slaves was part of a strategy to gain leverage over "the great powers of Christendom". We can only be awed by the financial power that allowed Ismail to order giant platters that could hold enough couscous to feed people or to command the laying of foundations for 50 adjoining palaces at Dar al Makhzen with stables for 12, horses.

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Jack Treby. Roberta Gately. The Fallen. He has also written three novels and three children's books. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in south London. Find out more about Giles and his books on his website, www. Visit Seller's Storefront. All materials are described accurately. Any item found not to agree with description may be returned within a reasonable time lapse, notifying us in advance. Postage or other freght costs are extra. Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.