Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed - book review

Title: Throne of the Crescent Moon
Author: Saladin Ahmed
Published: 2012
Series: The Crescent Moon Kingdoms #1
Genre: Sword and Sorcery / Epic Fantasy
Arabic inspired, alchemy, ghouls, magic, shapeshifter, sword.
Saladin AhmedGoodreads

I’ve read a lot of urban/paranormal fantasy recently. More than I’ve ever read before. I blame the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, since they always drop at least 10 names and series during an episode. I can’t help but look some up, and before I know it, I’ve started reading a new book series. But there will always be a soft spot in my heart for epic fantasy, and the like. So, when I heard about Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon, I thought it would suit me very well. And it did.

Plot (from Goodreads)

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, 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 great city of Dhamsawaat," Adoulla just wants a quiet cup of tea. But when an old flame's family is murdered, he is drawn back to the hunter's path. Recruiting old companions and new, Adoulla races against time--and struggles against his own misgivings--to discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

My thoughts

This book was a true delight to read! A wonderful world, interesting characters and a well thought out plot. A mix of the familiar and some new ideas.

First and foremost I have to say something about the world that Mr. Ahmed has created. In most epic fantasy/high fantasy books that I’ve read, the story mostly takes place in a world similar to the medieval Northern Europe. Right now I can only think of one other book that I’ve read, that used another setting.

The Throne of the Crescent Moon takes place in an Arabic inspired world. As a Swede that feels exotic and interesting. The World building is very well done; you get a very clear picture of the big city of Dhamsawaat. I also appreciated that there isn’t a big dump of information in the beginning of the story. The world building took place throughout the book in an, almost, subtle way, and that is something that not every author does. I’ve read a lot of books where they just throw all the information about the world in the first chapter, and that can ruin a perfectly good story for me.

One of the main characters is Adoulla, whom I adore. He may be a bit of a grumpy, old man, but in a charming way. I really like the way Saladin Ahmed portrays the doctor, I really felt like I got a clear picture of Adoulla as a person. His protector, the young dervish Rasheed is in many ways quite the opposite to Adoulla. I feel like Rasheed has a way of only seeing people and things as black or white, whilst the doctor has learned that the world is more “grayscaled” than that. I like the partnership that they have. There is a lot of potential for Rasheed to develop as a character and person, and I’m looking forward to seeing that in future books.

Another important character is Zamia, a 15-year old shape shifter, who can take the form of a lion. She teams up with the doctor and Rasheed to avenge her murdered tribe. I had a hard time with Zamia. The portrayal of her felt a bit… 2 dimensional. I don’t know exactly why I felt that, I just felt like there were a lot of sides of her that were left out.

The magic in the book is introduced quite early in the book, and although it is described I would have liked to get a greater understanding of its boundaries and such. When it comes to the magic responsible for ghuls, not a lot is explained there either.

Okay, I clearly really enjoyed this book, so why not give it 5/5? I can’t really put my finger on it, there’s just something about the book that prevents me from really loving it. Perhaps I didn’t connect with some of the characters enough? Perhaps I wanted to understand the magic more? I don’t know. What I can say is that if you look at my ratings on Goodreads, I tend to be cautious about giving a book top marks. But still, 4/5 is really, really good.

I would recommend this book to every fantasy fan out there. And I can’t wait to read the next book from Saladin Ahmed.


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