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I love picking up a fantasy novel and reading something I haven t been exposed to before With this book, that pleasure came from the fact that the world had some distinctly Arabian worldbuilding and cosmology It s than merely a different flavor to the same old story It s not like the author just mad libed out the generic European wizards and goblins and replaced them with Fakirs and Djinn It s a different sort of world, complete with unfamiliar cultural values and superstitions In terms of the overall story and character Which is the meat of the matter this one hovers somewhere between a four and a five But the fact that it s the author s Debut novel, combined with the fresh Worldbuilding, nudge it up into the five star range with me I ll be interested to see what Saladin comes up with next. Throne of the Crescent Moon is an adult fantasy set in an alternate Middle East during the golden age of the Caliphate It richly evokes the world of Ali Baba, Sinbad, and Scheherazade I love the way Saladin Ahmed creates his story, lovingly portraying his characters and his settings, bringing them all to vivid life This is another very fast read, because the story moves along at a good clip The main characters are a ghul hunter one who searches out and destroys magically summoned demons a holy warrior dervish who has almost supernatural skill with his sword, and a young nomad girl who has the coolest shape shifting power you ve ever seen Even this powerful group will have trouble against the evil force that is rising to take the Khalif s throne, however Since this is an adult fantasy, there is some adult content and some extremely creepy and dark villainy, but nothing that would bother most readers of YA fantasies If you re ready for a fresh and different sort of fantasy, check it out After promising Saladin that I ll be reviewing the book within a week of its coming out, I stand abashed that it took me this long to get to it Probably the reason was that in spite of all the acclaim I had heard heaped on it, I knew in my heart that Throne of the Crescent Moon is still an out and out Sword And Sorcery fantasy genre novel and I had made a conscious decision to stay away from genre novels But now that I have just finished reading it, I have to admit that I am reminded of why I love the fantasy genre above all others It is because authors like Saladin can bring alive characters and situations and bathe them in all the fantastic magic imaginable and still make them all appear so real and so part of our world The world weariness of the fat old codger with the big belly, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood and the internal conflicts of the scrawny zealot, Raseed and the other quirks of every character speaks directly to us and the characters come alive in vivid detail, especially since the author takes care to not spare us the coarser details as well.There is a level of perfection in Ahmed s style and narration that you can feel in every page A tight, well polished reserve in the choice of words and in the slow construction of the plot The plot is in reality not of central importance in the book Ahmed spends than three quarters of the book developing his characters, making us inhabiting the heads of various characters as they travel about the city of Dhamsawaat, using these quiet spaces to put in vast details about the inner life of these characters and the outer complexity of the fictional city and its teeming complex life.Unfortunately, this strength of the book is also its weakness The final climax can only be called anti climactic in its lack of devoted pages as well as the lack of action, not to mention the lack of any real feeling of conclusion There is no explanation provided for the existence of the evil they are battling or for the reason of its existence I do not want to go into plot details here, but the fact that this is the first in the series should not be an excuse for so little to happen in the book The characters are developed and primed for a series and the world building is detailed and complete but the sense of anticipation or of denouement that would draw one back to a series or make one wait eagerly for the next edition is sadly lacking.But then, as Ahmed makes clear in the last musings of Adoulla, this book was perhaps not intended to be an epic with world changing climaxes and thundering, sky splitting battles Maybe the world weariness and resignation of Adoulla is also the premise of the book To remind us that no matter what you achieve, life still goes on with all the challenges still there, undiminished and after the night celebrating your greatest achievement, the next day again dawns and you have to trudge on.If you are a fantasy fan who has been mourning the superficiality that permeates the genre and is on the lookout for a reflective and quiet but rich and satisfying read, this might be worth picking up Don t let the religious overtones and the constant allusions to God and the Avenging Angel put you off too much, those are just a part of the magic world the characters inhabit and the book is not trying to convey any religious messages The invocations from the Holy Book etc., serve as spells in Ahmed s world and all are weapons of God in a drawn out struggle against the forces of evil which might reach an epic conclusion in some future book in the series In fact, these religious allusions help in adding texture and credibility to the deeply arabic experience that Ahmed is trying to create This adds to the rich Arabian atmosphere and the originality with which a glorious Muslim kingdom is painted along with the language, the addresses and the mannerisms will all provide for an authentic 12th Century Arabian Nights like experience.For a debut author, Saladin Ahmed shows exceptional mastery of his craft and his book is unlikely to disappoint any serious reader who is looking for a bit than a few swords slashing and spells misfiring If nothing else, this book was a tuition class in plot and character development by Ahmed, maybe as a practical example to aid the people he helps through his Novel Critiques ad commentaries This series and the world that Ahmed has created definitely has the potential to develop into something amazing The groundwork has been lain in this first book and here is hoping that Saladin Ahmed manages to build a grand castle on it soon. This debut novel inspired by One Thousand and One Nights is a fantasy setting which is refreshingly in a non Anglo French environment The tale focuses on several different viewpoints but most notably on an old ghul hunter one of the last of his kind in the area named Adoulla who is unusually loving and faithful towards his capitol city but sometimes poor at expressing his feelings towards the people he cares about He has a few close people to him who all end up appearing in his life in different roles during the unfolding of this tale As Adoulla s ghul hunting continues he eventually discovers something larger and sinister not much of a surprise in a fantasy tale, right and along the way picks up some allies It s a good tale but the best part is the Arabian flavor simply because I hardly see it well done This is an exception Magic is on the uncommon to rare side and is usually temporarily or permanently taxing The division between the nobility royalty and the commoners was spot on I hate it when those debut fantasy novels have the nobility hanging out with the commoners and befriending them just because they re super nice people Puke Adoulla s flawed love relationship was appealing than the one of his assistant, Raseed I would say the love interest of Raseed was the weakest supporting character as he was very much the archetype I have listed extensive details about the novel in the spoiler section below Unlike another novel I read recently this series leaves enough things open or kept mysterious enough for me to want to pick up the next book WRITING STYLE PROSE WORD FLOW B plus WORLD FOCUSES B plus CHARACTERS DIALOGUE B to B plus STORY PLOTTING B WHEN READ March to April 2012 revised review end of June 2012 OVERALL GRADE B plus SPOILERS view spoiler THE GOOD 1 I like how the people passing by on the crowded streets have character and flavor, like getting angry at the main character for blocking foot traffic Then there was the bakgam game between two minor characters an old couple with some details of it all and one of the players spitting right near the feet of Raseed and Adoulla Strangely, they didn t react and I suppose that s life in the big desert city 2 The husband of Latif has a POV which was nice especially as his magic aged him which put him decades ahead of his wife He was the mostly steady friend who calmed Adoulla down 3 The way the adults interacted with Adoulla was great A lot of the supporting and minor characters had their own personalities like the tea shop owner Yehyeh who liked to insult Adoulla s ugliness but was really a good friend His old adventuring friends, Dawoud and Latif now retired , were nice compliments to the mix Interesting how Adoulla would look at them and wonder what married life could have been like for him 4 The introspection of many of the viewpoint characters worked most of the time rather than appeared just as padding 5 Nice decipherings of texts that actually led to relevant knowledge 6 Good fight with the little shadow creature Mouw Awa that attacked them midstory in Adoulla s home and Zamia almost dying and milking that scene Too often heroes get hurt and recover too fast 7 The ghuls were worthy opponents rather than simple pushovers especially at the end 8 Interesting how the Falcon Prince gets the throne but you can already see he may have mental issues holding it per the magic within the physical throne 9 The details of the city made it feel real and exotic as I mentioned above 10 The argumentative relationship between Adoulla and his love interest, Miri, was well done Even when they argued you could read the subtext of caring emotions and Miri s attempts to make Adoulla swing around when she said was going to marry another man 11 Nice use of religious values without it dominating the story.THE BAD 1 As already mentioned the girl, Zamia, seemed overly rude and angry to everybody and everybody else seemed unusually patient with her Probably a pet peeve of mine the I think about it Heh 2 The old take the secret tunnel to the palace that nobody there seems to know about is overused in fantasy and seemed like a bit of a cop out For new fantasy readers it s fine I ve just read it so many times I think it would have been interesting if Adoulla had used magic to sneak in or bargained with a djinn at great expense to get in or some other variation I m still waiting for the anticlimatic tale in which the heroes sneak under and come out and all get killed or find out that the slaves servants have revolted and already destroyed the evil enemy Dare to dream Heh 3 OTHER COMMENTARY1.Some have commented that the finale felt weak but I disagree It was fine even if not really great, I suppose.2.The kid prince telling the Falcon Prince that he was his hero Not sure how I feel about that one It felt like a hit or miss so I can t put it as either bad or good hide spoiler The Arabian Nights starring Iroh of Avatar The Last Airbender, and you ll have a sense of what Saladin Ahmed s debut novel is like Throne of the Crescent Moon is one of the strongest debut novels I ve read and will likely be a serious contender in any Best Debut list for this year.Throne of the Crescent Moon follows the story of Doctor Adoulla Makshlood, the last of the true ghul hunters in the great city of Dhamsawaat On the verge of retiring, Adoulla is forced away from his hopes and plans when he and his assistant learn of a series of grisly murders and rumors of a sinister conspiracy Adoulla s investigations lead him outside the city with his assistant Raseed bas Raseed, a young member of an order of holy warriors There, they are set upon and nearly overwhelmed by a band of powerful ghuls They only survive the encounter due to the aid of a young woman able to take the form of a lioness, Zamia Badawai, whose entire tribe was slaughtered by the ghuls Adoulla takes Zamia under his wing, and together the three of them must unravel the mystery surrounding the Throne of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms before it s too late.Engaging CharactersAs previously stated, the main character, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, initially reminded me of Iroh from the 2005 2008 television series Avatar The Last Airbender As the story progressed, I had to revise my thoughts on the character to Iroh, if Avatar The Last Airbender had been a adult show One of the interesting and unique things about Adoulla as a main character is that he is over sixty years old and isn t part of a culture where such longevity is common He is a very, very human character, subject to the aches and pains of extensive experience and the wear and tear of the years.Adoulla s assistant, Raseed, is a sixteen year old boy who is part of an order of holy warriors He is prideful, and many of Adoulla s quirks go against his training of absolute purity Prone seeing only surface value, Raseed is quick to judge and does not discriminate between friend and foe in his quest to bring justice, with intentions mattering very little in his logic Things become very entertaining once Zamia joins the group since is an inherent attraction between them as young people are prone to have.Zamia Badawai, the young woman able to take the form of a lioness, is not the exiled beautiful princess popularized by adapted fairy tales and children s movies In fact, her plain features are emphasized by the author, as well as used as a source of conflict within her character Also, the tension between Zamia and Raseed is highly entertaining to read, as it takes on a variety of forms.The prose flows ever on and onWhile the premise and characters were definitely strong points of Throne of the Crescent Moon, the true strength of the novel lies in Ahmed s ability to craft a story The atmosphere of the novel lends and adapts itself to every scene, evolving as the story develops Ahmed s writing also finds that balance between giving the reader too much information and leaving too much to the reader s imagination, something that I distinctly enjoy Combine these elements with his character work, and Ahmed s debut novel becomes a masterful work of worldbuilding and storytelling.My one qualm with his writing comes not from any fault on the author s end, but rather from my own personal biases I am a comma junkie, and many of Ahmed s sentences give me pause However, in every case, the sentences were grammatically correct either with or without commas Once I got used to Ahmed s style of writing, it became a moot point especially once the story really started picking up steam Just a word of warning to any fellow comma junkies out there.A mesmerizing worldIn Throne of the Crescent Moon, Ahmed crafts a detailed world with a sense of history The lands of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms are part of a deeply immersive world with believable history, characters, and places The map provided in the novel complements the novel in many ways, both stylistically and informationally Taken together, Throne of Crescent Moon creates a fantastic world that I look forward to visiting again and again.Why should you read this book As debut novels go, this might well be the strongest I have read to date Saladin Ahmed has created a fantastic debut novel with a gorgeous world and fantastic characters But the main reason you should read this novel is Ahmed s sheer capacity for storytelling Available on February 7, Throne of the Crescent Moon is a novel any fantasy enthusiast should not miss. I found numerous things to like in this debut fantasy epic, and few to complain about, making it one of my top debuts of 2012, even if I only got to it in 2013 On the plus side the setting rich and original, vibrant and convincing The source material is easily identified, from the Arabian Nights and numerous other myths and legends of the muslim culture I have read a few other recent epics that drink from the same fountain Dreamblood by N K Jemisin The Demon Cycle by Peter V Brett Psalms of Isaak by Ken Scholes , but Saladin Ahmed strikes me as the most authentic voice, the view of the insider who gets the deep spirituality of the culture and sees beyond the murderous fanatic stereotype There is actually one character that could be described as a religious zealot Raseed , but most of his development will be about overcoming his limitations the magic system the story relies heavily on the supernatural and on different branches of arcane study alchemy, shamanism animal spirits , demonic incantations balanced by the power of the Scripture, potions, explosive powders, enchanted blades I particularly liked the revamped zombies in the story not the shuffling, ragged, Braiiinz obsessed Hollywood staple, but fast and deadly constructs of sand, water, blood, skin or bones of the dead, each with special powers and vulnerabilities the characters A fine tuned balance between the world weary older crusaders against the forces of darkness and the youthfull energy and passion of their apprentices Doctor Adoulla Makhslood is the last authentic Ghul hunter in the great metropolis of Dhamsawaat think Baghdad at the time of Haroun Al Rashid , now an overweight elderly gentleman fond of sticky sweets and long conversations over a cup of cardammom tea I have a clear picture of him in my mind His two best friends, a couple of alchemists healers, are similarly interested in retirement to greener pastures, but they stay on for a last fight, the most dangerous of their whole career Raseed and Zamia are the two youths with guts than brains, but they are both good kids and real useful in a tight spot The possibility of romance both the spring and the october flavor adds a touch of spice humor, tenderness, misunderstandings to the proceedings the prose impressive for a debut novel good dialogue, very fast action sequences, tight descriptions, emotional intensity.Things I believe could have been handled better The Falcon Prince he is an interesting charcter, but I felt he was underdeveloped, he needed at least a couple of chapters of backstory Likewise for the Khaliff and his court The main adversary remains a mystery for most of the novel, and this is a should be the unknown is often terryfying than what could be clearly observed , but ultimately I felt I knew about his sidekick than about the evil mastermind that threatens the whole human race Speaking of which, I m getting a little tired of this plot device, and starting to prefer a limited capacity for destruction the naming conventions either you create whole new words or you stick to the accepted spelling of familiar ones Changing just one letter in a name or a noun feels like lazy worldbuilding for me ghuls instead of ghouls, Adullah instead of Abdoullah, and so on.Overall, Throne of the Crescent Moon was a fast paced adventure with well drawn characters and a very interesting setting The novel works very well as a standalone, but I hope the author will return to the city of Dhamsawaat or to the neighborings kingdoms with a future installment. I cannot fathom how respected reviewers that I follow could give this anything than two stars, let alone herald it as the years best debut release Are you all on crack Is the author paying you all off Only once in my life have I ever not been able to finish a book and that was in 2008 with Kate Elliott s Spirit Gate Throne of the Crescent Moon has now brought that tally up to two.The worst part is that at only a short 288 pages in length, it still took me a week to get halfway because I literally kept falling asleep and I think if a book hasn t gotten any good by halfway, you know it s time to throw in the towel.Where did it go wrong Great title, great cover art and foremost for me a great premise I was really looking forward to some Middle Eastern flavour after a lifetime of medieval centric stories That s really about it on the pros list.Firstly, there is absolute zilch world building and character development All I really got to learn was that there was a crowded city, a desert, an impressive palace, a square with cool statues and a green door that s about as far as Ahmed s prodigious lack of anything descriptive gets the reader The three main characters are about as three dimensional as a Hallmark greet card, the ones with the annoying, repetitive jingle every time you open them Every word that comes out of Adoulla s mouth is a complaint about his age, weariness and likely impending death other than the times he is making unexpected, unjustified wise cracks wild bursts of outrage This is great at the beginning for setting up a protagonist that doesn t follow the usual tropes, but by page fifteen it s getting old Exactly the same situation with Raseed and Zamia, except old and weary was replaced with overly pious confused about liking vagina and woe my family is dead I am constantly insulted, respectively.It was like each character had one, single, simple thing that defined them and Ahmed chose to harp on about this for the entire story, rather than actually letting the characters, you know, develop and or express at least one other facet of their personality.Every time Raseed opened his mouth, all I heard was I got a I got a I got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine And can anyone honestly say what any of the characters looked like, other than Zamia as a lion Unless I missed it as I was drooling and my head was lolling backwards, this book is like reading from the perspective of a blind person.As if any of this wasn t bad enough, the plot itself is slow moving, predictable, unimaginative, incredibly lame and downright boring Ahmed shows absolutely no skill or subtlety in moving the story along, instead hand delivering information to the characters on a silver platter The worst example of this is the villain Mouw Awa, who seems to have Tourette s and within thirty seconds manages to divulge his entire identity, nature and plan to the protagonists.And I m sorry, but what the hell is Adoulla s magic He plucks an object out of his skirts sometimes not even that and mutters a seemingly random one line of scripture and the enemy just literally falls over and dies And then he just feels a little tired afterwards What a freaking cop out.The story just gets eye roll worthy when they discover the identities of their enemies and it turns all anti life, anti existence, so dark and foul and evil that it would make Baby Jesus roll over and vomit Well, Saladin, I had the same reaction How about you stop harping on about how nasty these guys are and actually just show us and get on with the story I just put it all in the basket with guys that brag about how big their penises are.Suffice to say I didn t like the book I will not be moving on and pretending it never happened. *Free Epub ☔ Throne of the Crescent Moon ⇹ 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 Years Old, He Has Grown Weary Of Hunting Monsters And Saving Lives, And Is 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 PathRaseed 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 ZamiaZamia 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 RaseedWhen 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 I wanted to read this book from the second I heard about it, because several bloggers I respected kept raving about how wonderful it was It seemed like it would be a nice change a medieval fantasy in which the pseudo Middle Eastern setting was the main focus of the story, not just an exotic sidetrack.I think that was the problem in this case, the setting was the main focus of the story to the point where the characters and plot were used to show off the setting, rather than vice versa Dhamsawaat seems like a very nice city, and it was nice to see all the different people who lived there but for me the scenery and minor characters were as interesting as the protagonists, which was a problem.PLOT SPOILERS BELOWThe concept is pretty cool The main protagonist there are five or six, depending on how you count is an aging ghul hunter named Adoulla Makhslood, who s getting too old for this crap He and his assistant a fanatical 17 year old dervish named Raseed are asked by Adoulla s old flame a middle aged brothel owner named Miri to investigate the horrific murders of her niece and nephew in law Turns out they ve been murdered by something horrible an Ancient Evil connected somehow to some unusually powerful ghuls that attack Adoulla and Raseed in the desert Fortunately they are saved by a desert dwelling shapeshifter named Zamia, who reveals that the Ancient Evil also slaughtered her entire tribe The three return to town, and that night the Ancient Evil destroys Adoulla s beloved townhouse and nearly kills Zamia The three must go for help to Adoulla s old friends, an alkhemist named Litaz and her magic wielding husband, Dawoud With Miri s help, this larger team determines the source of the threat, and must join forces with a flamboyant and charismatic bandit king called The Falcon Prince to save the city from destruction.Sounds cool, right And most of this isn t on the jacket copy In fact, as I look at the jacket copy now I think it s a little deceptive The problem is that the descriptions I ve just given are the characters I mean, I could tell you that Adoulla s fat it s mentioned far often than his ghul hunting is , or that Raseed s a really good fighter, but you don t really get a whole lot development than that Raseed is the only one to experience real personal growth, and it s along fairly predictable lines There was one scene at the end of the book that really intrigued me view spoiler when Adoulla decides to keep quiet about The Falcon Prince drinking the Heir s blood hide spoiler 3 starsA sword sorcery fantasy set against an Arabian Nights backdrop The story follows the paths of three unlikely characters Adoulla Makhslood, an aging disgruntled mage and the last ghul hunter left in the city who s still hunting ghuls Raseed bas Raseed, the mage s young pious protege who, unfortunately, has no magic of his own but has been blessed with great strength and Zamia Badawi, a young gifted but self righteous shapeshifter from a desert tribe who no longer has a home These three are drawn together by circumstance a powerful sorcerer is creating powerful ghuls and letting them loose to slaughter in the desert For Adoulla and Raseed, it s their duty to rid the land of evil, but for Zamia the journey is one of vengeance and self sacrifice There s also a royal conspiracy plot running in the background.This is a fun story and I enjoyed it quite a bit There s adventure, tension, humor, awkward first love, retirement jokes, fights over customs and ideologies, and a good amount of peril The set up reminds me somewhat of Peter V Brett s The Warded Man but better executed better plotted and better written overall As the first of the trilogy, this book shows a glimpse of what the rest of the trilogy could be and there s a lot of potential here.