The Ruler of the Two Fortresses

Lina Huyan Elhassan

The heroine of the novel, Khatun Al-Maghouliya, is one of the last female practitioners of magic and divination in Syria. Her daughter, now a young woman, disapproved of her mother’s profession and left her home to study philosophy in Damascus, far from the influence and reputation of her mother. Khatun disappears just before some factions of ISIS invade the north-eastern region of Syria, including the area between two historic fortresses – Halabiye and Zalabiye – built on the banks of the Euphrates by Queen Zenobia. The daughter tries to find her mother, and when she has to give up, she resolves to write about her life and those of other female sorceresses. The Ruler of the Two Fortresses offers an insight into magic rites practiced to summon the dead and converse with them, taking us on a journey into unknown territory, where the women involved in such practices are usually condemned.


Dar al-Adab


2023 Longlist