Physician, scientist, intrepid traveler, fearless adventurer and roguish irreverent prankster, this ferocious
little Persian is a man in whose good graces you definitely want to stay. Driven by a sheer thirst for knowledge, Zeed, like Dee, yearns to make landfall on the island of Hainan. But for him, the draw is disease--the countless lush, exotic, freakish
varieties that thrive in the tropics and which attract him like rare orchids. Contemptuous of ignorance and superstition, devoted to rational thought, experimentation and empirical observation, he’s Dee’s fast friend from the moment they
meet. What sort of friend? The sort who would dare to interfere, using 7th-century biological weaponry, with Hsueh Huai-i and his murderous mission for the Empress Wu. Yes, you definitely want him on your side…
Years before, Magistrate Dee had a brush with death, when, distracted by a wooden carving of a Hindu love-goddess, he failed to hear the creak of a floorboard behind him.
Now it is as if that wooden carving has come to life in the form of Madame Djamal, another Persian and a close friend of Abu Zeed. But she is scarcely made of wood: Beautiful, brilliant, literate, and versed in the art of eroticism, Dee is seduced, in every
sense of the word. Slick with the sweat of heat and passion, he worries vaguely, though, about that floorboard: She admires and emulates the faraway Empress Wu, despite, unlike Dee, having never met her. She simply knows no better, Dee tells himself. Or does