In the year 1485, a daughter is born to Muslim parents who fled to Morocco as the conquering armies of Ferdinand and Isabella advanced through Andalusia. The baby is promised as wife to her father's friend, also a nobleman from Spain. Unlike her brother, Zuhra is destined to grow up mostly inside the walls of the family kasbah in Chaouen, a secluded village high in the Rif Mountains, governed by her father, a descendant of Prophet Muhammed. Indulged and free from care, her childhood is confined and protected.
When she marries at sixteen, Zuhra's world swiftly expands to include Berbers, Jews, sultans, pirates, Christian captives, and an unpredictable family. With an independent spirit and persistent curiosity, her life as a traditional Muslim woman moves from duty and devotion to fame and notoriety, then romance and adventure.
Sayyida Zuhra al-Hurra, called both Renaissance woman and Pirate Queen, rules a city-state for a quarter century at a time of turbulent historical shiftsthe dominance of Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, Spanish and Portuguese invasions of North Africa, New World voyages, and the Ottoman Empire's advance toward Europe. Facing loss and betrayal, Zuhra meets the challenges of a wider world with resilience and audacity.