Like the 1001 Nights the Sinbad story-cycle has a frame story, which goes as follows: in the days of Haroun al-Rashid, Caliph of Baghdad, a poor porter (one who carries goods for others in the market and throughout the city) pauses to rest on a bench outside the gate of a rich merchant's house, where he complains to Allah about the injustice of a world which allows the rich to live in ease while he must toil and yet remain poor. The owner of the house hears, and sends for the porter, and it is found they are both named Sinbad. The rich Sinbad tells the poor Sinbad that he became wealthy, "by Fortune and Fate", in the course of seven wondrous voyages, which he then proceeds to relate.
A sailing port in the Arabian Sea.
The First Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor
After dissipating the wealth left to him by his father, Sinbad goes to sea to repair his fortune. He sets ashore on what appears to be an island, but this island proves to be a gigantic sleeping whale on which trees have taken root ever since the world was young. Awakened by a fire kindled by the sailors, the whale dives into the depths, the ship departs without Sinbad, and Sinbad is saved by the chance of a passing wooden trough sent by the grace of Allah. He is washed ashore on a densely wooded island. While exploring the deserted island he comes across one of the king's grooms. When Sinbad helps save the King's mare from being drowned by a sea horse—not a seahorse as we know it, but a supernatural horse that lives underwater—the groom brings Sinbad to the king. The king befriends Sinbad and so he rises in the king's favour becoming a trusted courtier. One day, the very ship on which Sinbad set sail docks at the island, and he reclaims his goods (still in the ship's hold). Sinbad gives the king his goods and in return the king gives him rich presents. Sinbad sells these presents for a great profit. Sinbad returns to Baghdad where he resumes a life of ease and pleasure. With the ending of the tale, Sinbad the sailor makes Sinbad the porter a gift of a hundred gold pieces, and bids him return the next day to hear more about his adventures.
Sindbad the Sailor and the valley of the Diamonds.
The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor
On the second day of Sinbad's tale-telling—but the 549th night of Scheherazade's, for she has been breaking her tale each morning in order to arouse the interest of the homicidal king, and make him spare her life for one more night—Sinbad the sailor tells how he grew restless of his life of leisure, and set to sea again, "possessed with the thought of traveling about the world of men and seeing their cities and islands." Accidentally abandoned by his shipmates again, he finds himself stranded in an island which contains roc eggs. After attaching himself to a roc, he is transported to a valley of giant snakes which can swallow elephants, and a roc which preys upon them. The floor of the valley is carpeted with diamonds, and merchants harvest these by throwing huge chunks of meat into the valley which the birds then carry back to their nests, where the men drive them away and collect the diamonds stuck to the meat. The wily Sinbad straps one of the pieces of meat to his back and is carried back to the nest along with a large sack full of precious gems. Rescued from the nest by the merchants, he returns to Baghdad with a fortune in diamonds, seeing many marvels along the way. The Third Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor
Restless for travel and adventure, Sinbad sets sail again from Basra. But by ill chance he and his companions are cast up on an island where they are captured by, "a huge creature in the likeness of a man, black of colour, ... with eyes like coals of fire and eye-teeth like boar's tusks and a vast big gape like the mouth of a well. Moreover, he had long loose lips like camels', hanging down upon his breast and ears like two Jarms falling over his shoulder-blades and the nails of his hands...