Sword and Sorcery with an Arabian Nights flare, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON was a book I would gobbled up and read endlessly as a teen. Instead of the usual medieval society setting we have a lush and evocative world of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms. Ruled over by the Khalif, but haunted by the master thief the Falcon Prince, the Kingdoms find themselves caught in the middle of the struggle even as the citizens are murdered by a terrifying supernatural force.
What drew me in the most by the book is that the language is so very different from many of the fantasies I read today. Even while tossing insults, trading barbs and outright insulting at one another the characters were formal in their speech. That intrigued me. Adoulla, our main character and an unlikely hero at the advanced age of 60, places great stock in the niceties, even while facing his foes.
Ahmed has a nice contrast between Adoulla's righteous, stubborn and sometimes reckless assistant Raseed, the vengeful, powerful and often violent Zamia and Adoulla's own arrogance and lassitude in regards to the future. This isn't to say Adoulla isn't keen to solve the murders, or find the Falcon Prince, but he's so confident he will that there leaves little room for doubt. He says it will be, so it will be.
For many this won't be their cup of tea--whether its Ahmed's choice of a hero or the more thoughtful, less action oriented tone of the book, this won't please everyone. For those who are looking for a fantasy with a different sense of magic, who's hero is confident in himself, and not some young pup fresh-faced and unseasoned...this will work wonderfully and make them eager for the next volume.
Re-Issued Review. Original Review from 3/16/2012. Now in Paperback.
From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.
The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is 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, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God's justice. 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.