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The Desert of Souls Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 15, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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!
If you like Fritz Lieber, or Robert Howard, or Harold Lamb, or early Michael Moorcock, I think you would really like this book.
The characters are well developed, in a mature literary way. Jones doesn't dumb down his character, which is what many authors do in many first-person fantasy novels today. The narrator is deceptively complex, has layers, and grows as a person throughout the story. In some ways, the narrator and the main protagonists of the story share and almost Sherlock Holmes and Watson like relationship. They are in the middle of a mystery. And that mystery has layers.
The action scenes are great, and the fantastical themes like magic and sorcery are handled very well actually. And the plot moves quickly, except for a mid novel desert interlude that is laden with philosophical implications. Some critics didn't like this part of the novel, I liked it, it's integral to the growth of the protagonists and strangely enough echos Lovecraft and his Cthulu mythos for perceptive readers.
In other words, this isn't your typical poorly written modern fantasy doorstop.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Howard Andrew Jones has produced a fantastic book combining the pulp tropes of thoughtful occult investigator and historical fantasy set in the exotic 8th century Abbasid... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Roman
Great characters, an exotic setting and a nice mystery set against a background of magic and swordplay -- all told in clear, easy-to-read prose. What the heck is there not to like?Published 10 months ago by Steve Goble
The cover of this book is what first hooked me. Then an endorsement on the cover by Glen Cook added to the interest. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Richard Fisher
I first came across Dabir and Asim when Howard submitted the story, "Servant of Iblis" to the anthology, "A Mosque Among the Stars"... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ahmed A. Khan
Many of the blurbs for Howard Andrew Jones debut novel, The Desert of Souls compare it to, among other things, Sherlock Holmes, The Arabian Nights, and the works of Robert E. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Charles R. Rutledge
The prose and the protagonist are wooden and stiff. I found the dialogue disinteresting and the action slow. Read morePublished 11 months ago by M. Brown
A wonderful sword and sorcery tale set in medieval Baghdad, "The Desert of Souls" is close to historical fiction in its beautiful detail about everyday life in the Islamic golden... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Maria A Guglielmo