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AT DAWN THE SIMORGH APPEARS BY K.A. LILLEHEI

Two young women are travelling together when they are abducted by a group of renegades. Anna is an American researcher who met Farah, her Persian teacher, in France. The women are near the Iran-Iraq border when they are captured by outlaws and locked in a stone hut, their fate unknown. To pass the time they tell each other stories. A young servant becomes close to the women and helps them. Eventually they flee into the wild and desolate Zagros mountains.

The journey over the mountains is as treacherous as their captivity had been. They encounter wild beasts, tribesmen, land mines, corrupt border guards and desert conditions that obstruct their escape. They are helped by local nomadic shepherds and the young servant who fled with them. However, the outlaws are also on their trail and the women struggle to avoid being recaptured. During the ordeal in the Zagros they continue sharing their stories including tragedies of their young lives abandonment, imprisonment, torture and loss of loved ones.

Finally, they are confronted by the renegades and, with the help of one of the outlaws, face their enemies. Using their wits and courage, will they be able to prevail? At what cost? For all their external differences, Anna and Farah discover a bond commonalities, shared ideologies and beliefs. Superficially they are as different as night and day. Sisters beyond time, language, culture and religion. Like modern-day Scheherazades, through their storytelling, the women discover a universe where their outer worlds divide, but their inner worlds connect. The year was 1973; neither of them could know the upheavals that would soon engulf their part of the world.

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