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Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms) Hardcover – February 7, 2012
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The setting is an absolute breath of fresh air for me. So many fantasy stories take place in a pseudo-medieval european context or just take modern day society and slap medieval dressing on it. I always loved the stories from A Thousand and One Nights as a child and as I got older and began to play Dungeons and Dragons, their middle eastern inspired Al-Qadim setting fascinated me, even if I never got to actually play in that world. I even felt like I could pick out D&D classes of the characters as I read, which I count as a bonus.
In this story, you find a group of heroes banding together to save the day, but it's not some naive farm boy that is the one prophesied to fulfill his great destiny and have some secret power they need to learn to use to do so. While nothing is wrong with that, it is a welcome change. The characters are all rough around the edges and have good and bad qualities and feel three dimensional. The antagonists are well developed and varied. The book did a great job with the ending where you can stop reading there if you want and still feel like you got a full story but at the same time, I cannot wait until the next book in the series is released.
Throne of the Cresent Moon was a delightful surprise to me. Imagine Tales of the Arabian Nights brought up to modern dark fantasy standards and you have a bit of the flavor of this novel. The unlikely hero is an aging, overweight (and slightly flatulent) curmudgeon who fights a thankless battle against undead "ghuls" and the evil men who raise them.
Aiding him is a young dervish whose martial prowess is only exceeded by his moral and religious rigidity. They make an unlikely pair and much of the early pleasure of the story comes from their interplay.
Other characters are added to the mix and each adds a delightful and unique flavor until there is, at last, a kind of flawed "team" to stand against an encroaching evil beyond the ability of any one of them to combat.
I thoroughly enjoyed TotCM and am eager for more from this author. Go get it!
From a cultural perspective, as a speaker of many languages and a student of ME history and culture, this was a story set in someone elses world, which is totally acceptable, but it always felt like a bit of a veneer. References to scriptures, the Names of God, and similar religious references were well done throughout, the adoption of Arabian fantastic devices was well intentioned and implemented, and the treatment of the nomad vs city dweller paradigm reasonably well treated.
From a plot perspective, this was a pretty straight forward novel, not up to, say, GRR Martins level of twisty turny craziness, but good enough for a page turner. I may have liked it better if the rebel character were kept under wraps longer, or exposed more fully, as it was, he just felt like a card board cut out.
Having said all of the above, this is one of the few fantasy novels where I felt it could have been LONGER. In the next book, I would like to see more history, more explicit religion vis a vis how the common folk and the upper classes interact with the one faith, and perhaps a bit more work cone to keep the naming and place name conventions clear. I do want to explore the authors world more, I just hope when he lays it out for us, it feels like he lives there himself.