Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed

Aboutthe book
From Saladin Ahmed,finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year’s mostanticipated fantasy debuts, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventurewith all the magic of The Arabian Nights. 

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn andghuls, Khalifs and killers, is on the brink of civil war. To make things worse,a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms.And it’s up to Doctor Adoulla Makhslood to solve them. 

“The last real ghul hunter in the greatcity of Dhamsawaat,” Adoulla just wants a quiet cup of tea. But when anold flame’s family is murdered, he is drawn back to the hunter’s path.Recruiting old companions and new, Adoulla races against time–and strugglesagainst his own misgivings–to discover a plot for the Throne of the CrescentMoon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into ablood-soaked ruin. 

274pages (hardcover)
Publishedon: Feb. 7, 2012
Publishedby: DAW
RecentlyI’ve discovered that I’m kind of sick of the same old fantasy world. You knowwhat I’m talking about; there’s a king and a queen and some sort of royalfamily all living in a castle set somewhere that reminds me of the Englishcountryside. The women wear big dresses and titter behind perfumed fans andtalk about poison. Maybe there’s a thief prowling the roofs. Someone has magic.Some people don’t. Or maybe the story is about a chosen-for-greatness countrybumpkin who has to overcome all odds to defeat the Evil One and leave his jobof plowing cornfields behind.
There’snothing wrong with books like that, and I do enjoy and read my fair share ofthem. I guess, for right now, I’m just sick of them. I’m looking for somethingnew. A new setting, a new story, new characters, new… well, just new. So youcan imagine how thrilled I was to get my hands on Throne of the Crescent Moon. Nothing in this book reminds me ofmedieval Europe and so it scratched my itch perfectly.
Infact, Throne of the Crescent Moon takesplace in a very Arabic influenced world. Usually fantasy books with ArabicInfluence bother me because they are so obviously borrowed and thus seem a bitcheap. However, Ahmed, while using the Middle East as an obvious influence,does it in such an artistic, classy and realistic way that it doesn’t read ascheap or without depth. In fact, his world really shines. It’s almost poeticand with Ahmed’s sprinkling of cultural detail into his narrative does awonderful job at familiarizing the reader with the world and culture withouthitting them over the head with infodumps or long and evolved histories.
Thestory itself centers on an infamous ghul hunter, Adoulla and his young partnerthe Dervish Raseed as they battle ghuls and eventually come upon a lone tribalgirl, Zamia, with gifts of her own. Mixed with this is the mysterious FalconPrince, a figure much like Robin Hood, who is causing plenty of politicalupheaval in his own right as he stand against the oppressive Khalif. With thisinteresting mix of characters one can see that Ahmed has set an incrediblyvolatile political atmosphere in the midst of his unique and remarkable world. Mixedwith all of this is a mysterious ghul master who seems determined to keepAdoulla busy while he fights against the natural order of things.  
Onecan see, after they understand the main players in Throne of the Crescent Moon, how the plot would be fast paced,action packed and, at times, rather surprising. In fact, the characterizationwas rather surprising considering that Ahmed is a debut author. He uses a vastrange of fantasy stereotypes in this book, but none of them feel overdone ortired due to his unique world and culture. This is a huge plus, because whileAdoulla would easily be seen as the aged wizard in many other fantasy tropes,but in Throne of the Crescent Moon heis a new, unique type of fantasy character. Thanks to the world and because ofAhmed’s brilliant ability to bring the reader into the character’s minds, it’seasy for the reader to see him as an exhausted, resigned old man.
Perhapsthe only real downside of Throne of theCrescent Moon is the length. In this short novel a reader can find muchmore than they’d expect, but the length doesn’t allow for the author to expandupon many of the ideas in the way I’d like. For example, I’d love to know moreabout how the magic system worked and some areas of the plot could have easilybeen longer.
Thehighest compliment I can pay Throne ofthe Crescent Moon is to say that it made me incredibly hungry. I know whatyou’re thinking, “Sarah, that is a weirdcompliment to pay a book,” but hear me out. Throneof the Crescent Moon was so well done, the culture was so vibrant, theworld was so colorful and reminiscent of the Middle East that every time I readthe book I wanted to eat tons of kebobs and cucumbers.  Indeed, this is the first book I have evercomplained that it was too short.That right there says volumes.
Inthe end, Throne of the Crescent Moonis one hell of a debut by one incredibly promising author. I can’t wait to seewhat’s next.
P.S.Once again I’m going to post this without checking typos and etc. My 7 monthold is having a really uh… fun(sarcastic font)… day and I really want to get this up so I’m just posting itand hoping my devout readers will understand that sometimes fun days like this demand more time andattention than my post. 

2 Responses

  • Sunny

    Good review – I kinda want to read this, but the shortness of it was putting me off. I tend to like my books long and detailed, usually! But after hearing your thoughts I think I'm gonna go ahead and add this one to the list! Thanks!!

  • Paul Weimer

    Yeah, this one was almost as good as Range of Ghosts, in my book. 🙂

    I do understand children change processes and sometimes makes that last spellcheck not happen.


    Yes! This is the whole point of my new term "Silk Road Fantasy". Throne fits, as does Range of Ghosts, Desert of Souls and Emperor's Knife.

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