Samuel Ha-Levi ibn Nagrela known as Ha Nagid, was the Prime Minister of the Taifa (City/State) of Grenada. He served two Caliphs and also occupied the position of General-in-Chief of Grenada’s armies. He was born in 993 in Cordoba and died in office at the age of 63. He also served as the acknowledged Head Rabbi of Andalusia. As a General he never lost a war. He wrote and published books on Jewish law and poetry in both Arabic and Hebrew, using the students of his Yeshiva to make copies. The events in this novel all took place and were recorded in Ha Nagid’s poetry and other publications. Ha Nagid also conducted an active correspondence with the leaders of Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora. His letters reached as far north as England and Ireland and as far east as India and the Khazar Empire. Much of his poetry, some of his legal writings, and a bit of his correspondence survived and has been translated into English.
The novel provides insight into the wars and battles Ha Nagid fought, his personality, the diplomatic problems and intrigues he survived and the everyday life he led as a prominent and powerful Jew in the Moslem controlled society. The novel also explains that the reasons for his, at times troubling actions, was for the protection and welfare of the Jews of Andalusia.
Ha Nagid groomed his son Joseph, from an early age, to take over for him. Joseph was intelligent and meticulously educated but lacked the ruthlessness, leadership skills, and warrior nature of his father. Joseph did take over as Prime Minister after Ha Nagid’s death and held the position for ten years but was murdered by an anti-Jewish mob.