Shrine of the Desert Mage (The Parsina Saga Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 244 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Richly set within an imaginary middle-eastern country, the author introduces the reader to a tried and tested formula of good versus evil, one that can usually be relied upon to lends itself so well to an epic scale. ‘Shrine of the Desert Mage’ does not disappoint in this respect, but achieves it with a care and consideration only ever found in experienced, adept and accomplished authors.
This first volume of the ‘Parsina Saga’ introduces the world of Parsina, with its divine city of Ravan central to its politics, beliefs and ultimate fate. The tale begins with the individual stories of a number of disparate characters, from princes to thieves, with storytellers, magicians and elemental entities filling the space between. Each story, though, is a gripping and enchanting thread in itself, but Stephen Goldin consummately manages to interweave them to form a wonderful tapestry of a tale.
He does this with a sparing touch upon his characters, however. They at first appear mere ciphers, rather shallow and one-dimensional - in keeping with the fable nature of the work, it has to be said - but they do steadily grow a little deeper and richer. It would be fair to say that this is a story driven more by plot, setting and an exquisitely fashioned system of supreme powers and elemental magic than by the cast of characters involved. They do grow enough by the end of this volume, however, to engender some empathy. Enough to want to read the next volume from a feeling of involvement, and not just curiosity about where the story will lead.
This is clearly a very well researched work, but be prepared. It will introduce you to a whole raft of often unfamiliar names and terms. There are many exotically named items of clothing, furniture, architecture and the like. Although there’s a rich seam of this narrative colour, the author is careful in its use, always making it clear what is being referred to. It certainly improves the setting of, and background to the story, but may slow some readers down. This reader, though, was particularly taken by the clever geographical names used, each carefully evoking real places in our own history. By it, a more immediate sense of location was fostered, so much so that the tale seemed as though it could almost have been truly handed down from an ancient Persian or Indian hand.
In keeping with the subject matter and story, Stephen Goldin’s prose is quite ‘old style’, and it may take a little while for more modern readers to feel comfortable. It often uses now unfashionably long and sometimes convoluted sentences, but they’re almost always carried off by the high standard of writing. It does mean that a rich mine of delightful phrases and turns of language await the reader, such as: ‘half a feather’s weight from chaos’, and ‘The city’s original lustre wore thin, revealing the common clay beneath the glazed facade.’
I would certainly recommend the ‘Shrine of the Desert Mage’ by Stephen Goldin as an enjoyable and rewarding read; for its rich prose, clever and well-crafted story and its interesting and engaging re-telling of the age-old tale of good versus evil.
I received an advance copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The characters were well formed, each with distinct characteristics, personalities, souls, and motivations. I like the characterization and plot development that the story took from its beginnings. It seeped in me a feel of familiarity and growth. As the story progressed, more twists were added to the story, making it an exciting read. Though I must confess that many of the twists and whatnot were kind of predictable. For instance, I knew that Jafar would end up with Cari's ring ten chapters before it actually happened. And that some way or the other, Jafar and Ahmad will end up traveling together. The story, though somewhat original, has a familiar sound from all the fantasy-like stories preceding this one. Though "Shrine of the Desert Mage" has its merits as well.
I didn't like how the first book "ended", like it creates an immediate link to the next installment without giving this installment a proper ending. For example, I don't know what happened to Hakem Rafi and Aeshma other that they escaped. For some reason, at the end of the book, the story shifted and focused more on Ahmad, Umar, Jafar, Selima, and Cari and forgot all about everyone else. One thing that I liked about this story was the objectivity and partiality that the author presented each character, giving the same importance to each one. When I first started reading, I couldn't define who the main characters were because he (the author) wrote of everybody with the same importance.
As for the story, great story, as I mentioned before. For some reason I like Cari the best, and Jafar the least. But that might be because of how Jafar cunningly deceived Cari in the beginning. For the technical part of the writing, I can tell the author did a great job at studying the Middle East and desert-like traditions because the entire book was infused with it. He also used beautiful, artistic, and poetic words to describe many of the settings and instances of the book. I feel that I learned a lot of vocabulary words and customs and traditions from that faraway land.
One thing I was slightly annoyed with was how Umar told Ahmad to recite the origin of Parsina to him. It felt like the author was trying to explain the origins of the world through the mouths of their characters, which I find highly acceptable, but overused by so many authors.
The reason I didn't give this a five star (as I wanted to) was because the story didn't "hook" me. I didn't feel the urge to grab my kindle and read it until I felt satisfied with the amount of reading I did during that determined time, or finished it in one day. However, I do recommend this book.
Well, overall I think this is a great story, beautiful writing style, in-depth analysis and presentation of a totally different culture, and spell-binding story. I will welcome the second installment with much eagerness.