Aside from the role that women played in society in the 15th century, another thing I took away from this reading was the way politics worked under the sultan and the interactions between Christians and Muslims. Hassan's uncle provided the best perspective on this matter, by discussing the different ways that people reacted to the sultans. The first sultan, tyrannical and hated, was complained about very privately in ambiguous terms because people were in fear of their lives. The second sultan, who was less feared, was complained of much more openly- "Our people are merciless towards sovereigns who do not behave towards them as sovereigns" (24). The people did not care for this sultan either even though they had deliberately put him on the throne.
At a gathering at the sultan's palace, Hassan's uncle is involved in the debate over whether the city of Granada should try to resist Castile or simply surrender to minimize damage, since the sultan is apparently traitorous anyways. Eventually the decision is made to surrender, but rather than being spared, the Castilians force all of the Muslims of Granada to flee, thus beginning Hassan's many travels. Clearly the significance of book one is that his childhood and youth had a huge impact on Hassan- the details of Muslim life, the religious conflict he sees, his forced immigration and his studies at the university in Fez all shaped him into a world traveler and intellectual.