You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon

Arabian themes have become popular lately. Books like Habibi and movies like The Prince of Persia have used Arabian settings, drawing on a rich culture of mystery and fantasy. In Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed uses the background of deserts and cities, demons and demon hunters, dervishes and dark magics. He creates a fantastic tale full of adventure.

The centerpiece is the city of Dhamsawaat, an ancient city where all sorts of merchants meet to do trade. There are vast riches in the city but also a large population of poor people. The city is run by the Khalif, a corrupt ruler who only cares about extracting wealth from his people. The demoralized citizens have found a hero in the Falcon Prince, a daring master thief who has led attacks on the Khalif's property to turn it over to the poor. In all this chaos, Adoulla Makhslood is a ghul hunter who has been hunting ghuls and other demons for decades. Adoulla is not just rough around the edges, he is rough all around. He is a cynical older man with a past, and he is one of the few men left who knows how to battle ghuls and use magic to dispel them.

Dhamsawaat is reminiscent of Lankhmar, and Adoulla has his counterpart in Raseed, a dervish. Raseed is straight-laced and devout, devoted to his single god and his holy book. He is a master swordsman, apprenticed to Adoulla to assist him in vanquishing evil. The plot starts when Adoulla is requested to help a young boy whose family has been slain by ghuls. When the he and Raseed travel to the nearby village to deal with the evil beings, they are attacked by more than they expected. Fortunately they are saved by a lion. Zamia is a shape-shifting warrior whose band was slain by ghuls. Like Raseed, she is devoted to her way and determined to get revenge for her family.

Zamia joins the two ghul hunters when they realize that a powerful magus must be creating all the ghuls. Before they can find any more information they are attacked by a shadowy being calling itself Mouw Awa. Only Zamia is able to fend it off but she is wounded in the attack. Adoulla's house is destroyed by fire in the attack, and he grieves for it and all the books lost inside. Here we see Adoulla as more than a demon hunter; he has a love of knowledge and a deep history of arcane lore. He is also devoted to his calling despite all his setbacks, driven to protect the people of the land from the ghuls as only he can.

The three get help from Adoulla's friends, a couple who know about mystic healing and spells. Together the five of them create a plan of attack. They struggle against the Khalif, religious fanatics, the Falcon Prince, hidden texts, hidden magics, and their own squabbles. They encourage each other to continue, not knowing where the fight will take them. The story is full of exciting fights and daring escapes. The dangers are what one would expect in an adventure story. The characters are interesting and different enough to cause friction and make the plot more complex. There's an intriguing mystery somewhere behind the events, and the story getting there is a lot of fun. B+

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