“Garment of Shadows” – Historical Fiction in Morocco

Book Review : Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King

Spoiler Alert!

Mary Russell wakes up in a strange room, in clothing that does not belong to her, with a few odds and ends in a pocket and without her memory. Instinct takes over as she hears the police arriving and she quietly exits the premises into the busy streets of Morocco. The street skills needed to survive are alarmingly easy, leaving Mary truly wondering: Who am I?

Homes is busy in another section of Africa, oblivious to the fact that his wife is missing and suffering with amnesia. Tensions are quickly growing between Spain, France and the Rif Revolt that could become a costly war. Mary and Homes need all of their wits to solve the puzzle to stop a catastrophe with Europe and Morocco.

Adult Point of View

It is hard to believe that Pirate King and Garment of Shadows are written by the same author! (Pirate King is pure fluff.) The historical detail and complexities of this newest novel kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat the whole time.

I love it when I learn something entirely new. I had no idea that Muslims had such a problems with dogs. Doing a little research I discovered that traditionally Muslims would never keep a dog as a pet because they are considered ritually unclean and sometimes have been seen as devils in dog-form. Today in Britain, if sniffer dogs are used with Muslim prisoners the guards will provide fresh clothing and bedding, otherwise the inmate would feel that they are now unclean and being religiously discriminated against.

I discovered I am very unfamiliar with the political happenings of Northern Africa in the early 1920’s, and to be honest probably during any other time. King has done an excellent job researching the fire-keg that was set to explode and included historical figures.

Mohammed Abd el-Krims (alternate spelling: Abdelkrim Khattabi), of the Berber tribe of the Beni Ouriaghel, worked his entire life for Berber independence.

Abdelkrim Khattabi, together with his brother Mhemmed, led a large-scale revolt uniting the Rifian tribes against the French and Spanish eventually creating the Rif Republic using guerrilla warfare tactics.

Abd el-Krims surrendered to the French and later escaped confinement to continue fighting for independence from Egypt.

Sherif Muley (or Mulai) Ahmed el Raisuni was captured by Abd el-Krims before the Rif Revolt ended by the combined forces of France and Spain.

Sherif Muley Ahmed el Raisuni a descendent of the Prophet and scion of one of the leading families of the Djebala. He was described as both an intelligent and charismatic leader, and a difficult, distrustful and violent man. In 1911 El Raisuni supported Spanish intervention in Morocco; he preferred the Spanish to the French because “they are strong enough to help us, but not so strong that they will oppress us.” By 1913 his relationship with the Spanish had deteriorated. http://www.balagan.org.uk

In 1904 the French and British agreed to let the French take control of Morocco as long as the coast facing Gibraltar was in weaker Spanish hands. The French gained responsibility for Moroccan administration, economy and security.


It appears that the Maréchal Hubert Lyautey, the French resident-general in Morocco from 1912- 1925, was not the typical colonial administrator in that he was interested in the welfare of the original inhabitants of the region. He was in residence through WW I and that may have been a contributing factor to the new attitude with colonialism.

I enjoyed every moment of Garment of Shadows and it is one of my favorites in the entire series. It is necessary to read the series to know the characters and to have the pieces fit together prior to reading this book. (The exception would be the Pirate King, it was the vehicle to get Mary and Holmes in Morocco, but other than that it is not really part of the overall stream of events.) Finally, without spoiling the surprise I have to say I was shocked by some of the plot twists and shockers.

4.5 out of 5 stars

– Michelle

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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