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The Desert of Souls Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312646747
  • ASIN: B007K4IA10
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As richly textured as an antique rug, this fantasy-mystery sweeps readers into ancient Baghdad. Asim, captain of Master Jaffar's guard, and the wily scholar Dabir, who is hopelessly in love with Jaffar's niece Sabirah, track stolen golden artifacts into the shifting sands that hide the ruins of legendary Ubar, entry to the land of the djinn. Asim's dazzling swordplay, his Muslim piety, and his unwavering loyalty to his friend balance Dabir's bittersweet devotion to Sabirah as the pair battle forbidden magic that forces them to slice away layers of their own spirits. Their antagonist, evil Zarathustrian sorcerer Firouz, poses moral questions that deepen this multicolored Arabian-nights tale, as does the plight of pretty, quick-witted Sabirah, who prizes scholarship and lives for the moment while facing the fate of a political marriage. A captivating setting and well-realized characters make this a splendid flying-carpet ride. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Baghdad in the eighth century: a mysterious object comes into the possession of the royal Jaffar. He instructs Asim, captain of the royal guard, and Dabir, a scholar, to solve the mystery of the object’s inscription. The object is stolen, but not before Asim and Dabir have uncovered tantalizing clues to its history: it appears that it may have come from Ubar, a lost city that was, or so the legend goes, destroyed by God. But can Asim and Dabir uncover the secrets of the lost city before their own lives are lost, too? This is an exciting, colorfully written novel with engaging characters and a story that mixes fantasy and real-world elements. It should appeal to readers of fast-paced historical mysteries (or, perhaps, fans of the recent movie The Prince of Persia, which has some thematic similarities to the book). --David Pitt

More About the Author

Howard Jones's debut historical fantasy novel, The Desert of Souls, (Thomas Dunne Books 2011), was widely acclaimed by influential publications like Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly, where it was labeled "a splendid flying-carpet ride." It made Kirkus' New and Notable list for 2011, and was on both Locus's Recommended Reading List and the Barnes and Noble Best Fantasy Releases list of 2011. Additionally, The Desert of Souls was a finalist for the prestigious Compton Crook Award, and a featured selection of The Science Fiction Book Club. Its sequel, The Bones of the Old Ones, will become available on December 11, 2012. He is hard at work on a third historical fantasy novel about Dabir and Asim as well as a sequel to his Pathfinder Tales novel, Plague of Shadows.

Howard was the driving force behind the rebirth of interest in Harold Lamb's historical fiction, and assembled and edited 8 collections of Lamb's work for the University of Nebraska Press. He served as Managing Editor of Black Gate magazine from 2004 onward, and still blogs regularly at the magazine web site.

When not helping run his small family farm or spending time with his wife and children, he can be found hunched over his laptop or notebook, mumbling about flashing swords and doom-haunted towers. He's worked variously as a TV cameraman, a book editor, a recycling consultant, and most recently, as a writing instructor at a mid-western college.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I look forward to this author's next work.
Mama Mia
It's the first modern fantasy book I've read for a long time that I've really enjoyed.
E. M. Harvey
The action is fast paced and the story is interesting.
thebookwormgirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Harvey on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I used to really enjoy reading fantasy. I grew up reading Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and books like the Riftwar Saga. I enjoyed being immersed in a world that wasn't this one, and felt disappointed when the story ended. Unfortunately, fantasy took a turn for the worse. Endless doorstop sagas were churned out by the ton: huge books with flaccid prose, endlessly vacillating characters, pages of pointless description, and stories that never went anywhere or finished anything. If you read modern fantasy, you'll know what I mean.

The Desert of Souls is a welcome correction to this. It's the first modern fantasy book I've read for a long time that I've really enjoyed. I read it over three days, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. The prose is economical but lyrical, the characters engaging, the story fast-paced. There are heros, beautiful women, sorcerers, djinn, flashing swords, love, despair, horror . . . all the things that made the Sinbad movies so great.

If you like adventure fantasy, then buy this book. I really enjoyed it. The only disappointment was that this is Jones' first, and I can't go and buy another one from him yet.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Beth on April 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It started with a dead parrot.

Asim, captain of Jafar's guard, was fond of Jafar's parrot, a talented bird who "could mimic the master and his chief eunuch, and even sometimes answered the call to prayer by bowing thrice. He did this only when it pleased him to do so, which, as my nephew Mahmoud once noted, was far too much like many men he knew."

But Pago the parrot turns up dead one day, and so Asim, in an effort to distract Jafar from his grief, suggests an outing into the market.

Thus it is that Asim, his master Jafar, and Dabir, the scholar engaged as tutor to Jafar's intellectually precocious niece, Sabirah, set out for a little harmless fun in the noisy, perilous environs of eighth-century Baghdad. There they encounter a fortune teller, a band of thieves, and, of course, that moment of destiny when life takes a decidedly strange and treacherous turn.

The Desert of Souls is an elegantly written, deftly plotted, scimitar-and-sorcery tale, as colorful and romantic as a Persian carpet, woven with bright, daring exploits, frequent glints of humor, and the darker threads of heartbreak, pathos, and knotty moral quandries. It is a buddy story dressed in turbans and wearing daggers, exploring a burgeoning but sorely tested friendship between the narrator, Asim, a pious, loyal warrior with an unexpected flair for story-telling, and Dabir, the clever problem-solver who cannot resist a puzzle--or the flashing eyes and fine mind of a certain young woman.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy Herring on February 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I received an advance reader's copy of the novel, The Desert of Souls (Thomas Dunne Books, February, 2011), by Howard Andrew Jones for review. In addition to being a novelist, Howard Jones is also the Managing Editor of Black Gate magazine.

Soldier Asim el Abbas and scholar Dabir ibn Khalil make an unlikely buddy match-up in this thrilling novel set in an 8th century Middle East filled to the brim with legend, buried cities, blades, and wizardry leavened with just the right touch of romance. The book has an amusing, if slightly slow start, but don't let that tempt you into setting it aside before you reach the challenge awaiting Asim and Dabir in the "desert of souls" that lies, physically and metaphorically, at the heart of the story. Howard Jones, through Asim, his heroic narrator, displays a consummate gift for storytelling that immerses you fully into the world of the Arabian nights while leaving you stunned by the frequent awesome beauty of his prose style. In spite of reading through the night, when Asim announced "this tale is done," all I wanted to do was open the book at the beginning and read it again.

In one word? Splendid!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andy Beau on May 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Desert Of Souls is the highly recommended first novel of an Arabian Nights-style series by the new author, Howard Andrew Jones. As many other reviewers have already somewhat detailed the storyline, suffice it to say it relates the adventures of a scholar and the captain of the guard of a member in the government of Caliph Haroun al-Rashid as they go in search of a powerful magical tablet. Being chased by an evil spy and a Magi, they encounter a lost city in the desert, a djinn, a desert of actual souls (hence, the title), and other beings and objects, natural and magical.

It's written in the style of the Arabian Nights but with an emphasis on the action-adventure of a sword-and-sorcery tale. The author also conjures up new magical creations and beings not found in the typical Arabian Nights tale.

I'm anxiously looking forward to the next book in the exciting tales of the two intrepid heroes as they adventure across the Arabian Nights-style world of Howard Andrew Jones.
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