Whew!! I finally finished these books. The description says there are 2650 pages, but that is wrong. It comes to almost 4 thousand pages! Holy Arabian Nights, Batman!
Anyway, I made it through all three volumes and I can tell you that it ain't Disney. There is a lot of sex and violence.
In the beginning the King Shahryar goes to his brother, King Shah Zaman to find out why his health is failing. He finds out that his brother witnessed Shahryar's wife with another man and he was afraid to tell him. In his anger Shahryar had his wife and her lover killed, along with all her handmaidens. Then he vowed, "that whatever wife he married he would abate her maidenhead at night and slay her next morning to make sure of his honor."
This went on for three years until people started to get pissed. One day the King called for a virgin, but they were all gone. The Wazir was nervous cause he figured if he didn't bring back a girl for the King he would kill him. He had two daughters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad. Shahrazad volunteered to go.
So after the King and she are finished with their "toying" she asked him to let her see her little sister one last time, since she knew she would die the next morning. He agreed not knowing that was part of her plan. Her sister was to ask her about a story. So she began 'The Tale of the Trader and the Jinni.'
Each night she would leave it with a cliff hanger at dawn. And each dawn the King would stay her execution until he could hear the rest of the story.
Three years later they have three sons and she asks him to save her life so his children won't lose their mother. He tells her that before the birth of the first child he had already decided to keep her. So they marry. We also find out at the end that his brother had also been sleeping with women and killing them the next morning. But, alas he was tired of it. He wants to settle down with one woman and raise a family. He would also like to stop being King since his people kinda hate him.
So, Shah Zaman marries Dunyazad, gives up his kingdom and moves in with King Shahryar and Shahrazad. The King gives his brother's kingdom to the Wazir. Then the two brothers took turns ruling one kingdom.
King Shahryar had the stories his wife told him written down into thirty volumes and he put them in his treasury. The two couples lived happily until "the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of Societies" ended it.
The Kingdoms passed down the generations with these stories being passed around until this guy Burton decided to translate it. He also included a ton of footnotes that explained things almost too well.
These were very interesting stories. Some funny, some not so much, but very entertaining.