Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 45/200
The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Finished on 3/13/2018
The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:
Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.
Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.
Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.
When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time—and struggle against their own misgivings—to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.
Genres: High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Arabic Fantasy, Popcorn Fiction
Unrest in Dhamsawaat. The Crescent Moon Kingdoms in danger. Ghouls on the desert. Will the heroes save the day, or will the fallen angel conquer the world?
This is my third re-read of this novel, and it’s still good. The audiobook of it makes an excellent book MUCH better.
Dhamsawaat, the greatest city on earth, is being fought over by an incompetent Khalif and a rebel Falcon Prince. But the main characters don’t care. Adoulla is a late middle-aged ghoulhunter who just wants to sit with his friends and have tea. Raseed is a Dervish, a sword of God who is committed to fighting between the forces of the Fallen Angel. Zamia just wants to get revenge against the ghoulcrafter who killed her family. But when the plot involving hundreds of dangerous ghouls becomes entwined with the fate of their beloved city, and they have no choice to get involved in a revolution to save their city from demon host and fool Khalif alike.
Characters: I’m not one who likes YA romance storylines usually, but here Raseed and Zamia’s will-they-won’t-they-get-married plotline wasn’t frustrating because I could understand why Raseed (who has sworn a vow of chastity) wouldn’t want to screw up his entire life to get hitched with a character he just met. I also liked Adoulla’s ‘I’m too old for this shit’ storyline, because it ultimately does result in his retirement. Character development is important in a story, and this book does have enough of it to make the book satisfactory. None of them are ultra-nuanced characters, but for a short book in the Sword-and-Sorcery subgenre I am willing to give them some wiggleroom. Finally, the dialog was fantastic. It was like reading Arabian Nights.
Plot: A classic ‘defeat evil warlock and save the world’ storyline tied up with ‘toppling the evil King’ storyline. I liked how the Falcon Prince ultimately took over by using some very despicable methods.
Pacing: No dull points. Now too fast points. Just steady, sword-and-sorcery goodness.
Setting: Dhamsawaat lives and breathes. You can taste the cardamom tea, watch the angel states in Angel Square, feel the sand in our mouth, smell the noxious scent of the Scholar Quarter. The Arabic-like setting is well served in this novel.
Final thoughts: Highly recommended. This book isn’t revolutionary, but it’s fun and has excellent prose- a combination which is rare enough on it’s own. I just hope that one day that there’s a sequel, though it looks more and more likely that we’ll never get it.