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Throne of the Crescent Moon (Crescent Moon Kingdoms) Mass Market Paperback – December 31, 2012
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"A genuinely brisk, bold, and colorful diversion.... Flashing swords, leaping bandits, holy magic, bloodthirsty monsters, and sumptuous cuisine... What more do you want me to do, draw you a map? Read this thing." —Scott Lynch, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lies of Locke Lamora
"Swashbuckling adventure, awesome mystery, a bit of horror, and all of it written beautifully. A real treat!" —N. K. Jemisin, Hugo Award-winning author of The Fifth Season
“Ahmed’s debut masterfully paints a world both bright and terrible.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The Arabian Nights theme dominates, and in language, style and approach.... Equally impressive are characters who struggle not only against their opponents but against their own misgivings and desires.” —Kirkus (starred)
“The maturity and wisdom of Ahmed’s older protagonists are a delightful contrast to the brave impulsiveness of their younger companions.” —Library Journal (starred)
“I love the way Saladin Ahmed creates his story, lovingly portraying his characters and his settings, bringing them all to vivid life.” —Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times-bestselling author the Percy Jackson series
"This promising debut offers a glimpse of a dusty and wonderful fantasy city through the eyes of three engaging, unconventional protagonists." —Elizabeth Bear, Hugo Award-winning author of Karen Memory
“An exciting and classic fantasy plot, monstrous ghuls, and a marvelously-described world.... You should absolutely read it for its world-weary, sarcastic hero, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, who is fat and old and out-of-shape and ready to retire and yet unable to do so because of his sense of duty; he is utterly wonderful because he is not like any other hero in an epic fantasy novel.”—Kate Elliott, author of Cold Magic
“Shapeshifters and ghul hunters! Magic potions and various flavors of ghul! Evil khalifs and sort-of-maybe-noble thief-princes! And an old, cantankerous protagonist with an old, cantankerous love story. Loved it.” —Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds
"Throne of the Crescent Moon is colorful, magical, exciting, and moving. Saladin Ahmed delivers a beautiful story of a demon hunter in an Arabian Nights setting. An excellent first novel!" —Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dark Between the Stars
“Ahmed is not your typical fantasy writer, and this is no ordinary debut novel. With deft plotting, painstaking characterization, and fluid prose, Ahmed brings us a riveting adventure, complete with stunning magics and compelling intrigue. A thoroughly enjoyable read from one of the genre’s rising stars.” —David B. Coe, Crawford award-winning author of The Dark-Eye’s War
“Ahmed's writing is deft and graceful, and his characters move through a world of real stakes and significant consequences, much to their cost. Combine this with glorious setting and his careful mastery of craft, and you have a lovely fantasy read on your hands.” —Jay Lake, award-winning author of Green
“[Ahmed] writes prose that's colorful and evocative, but he's equally influenced by sword-and-sorcery tales and Dungeons & Dragons, and his work is bursting with zany antics, witty banter and grotesque monsters.” —Wired
“A fun, fast-moving story where good is good, evil is evil, but there’s still room for political turmoil and intrigue alongside spells, swordplay, and undead monsters.” —AV Club
"Ahmed spins a seriously engaging adventure tale.... One of the many pleasures of Throne of the Crescent Moon—aside from Ahmed's skill at making his monster fights feel positively cinematic—are all the realistic little details of life in a city riddled with magic." —io9
“Extraordinary... Chances are very good that you’ll find Throne of the Crescent Moon to be one of the best novels you read this year.” —B&N Explorations
“The vivid world of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms is rich with allusions to Middle Eastern folklore and culture.... Ahmed uses this setting to deliver a well-crafted, fast-paced adventure with a highly entertaining cast of characters, each with a distinctive voice.” —Tor.com
“A delight in every imaginable way.” —The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
“There’s a wonderful soul to Throne of the Crescent Moon and, with all the skill and eloquence he showed in his short fiction, Ahmed has brought to life a wonderful cast of characters and introduced readers to a thrilling and interesting new world to explore.” —Aidan Moher, A Dribble of Ink
About the Author
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The book opens with a gruesome scene involving the antagonist, but quickly moves to introduce Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the pure-white kaftan wearing ghul hunter of the city of Dhamsawaat. Here was a man I’d never met in any of the books I’ve read, and in a city I’d yet to visit either in truth or fiction.
My curiosity piqued, I read on from the opening chapters to delve deeper into the tale of Adoulla and his companions. While Adoulla occupies center stage more often than the other characters, his brusque manner left plenty of room for me to identify more closely Adoulla’s friends, Dawoud Son-of-Wajeed, and Litaz Daughter-of-Likami of the Soo Republic to the east. Even more fascinating was the character of Adoulla’s assistant, the dervish, Raseed bas Raseed.
I’m no devoted or pious follower of any faith, but I recognize and appreciate the values of discipline and devotion (you can take the man out of the Army, but …). Raseed’s strict behavior, and his internal struggles, paint a picture of a young man with a rigid concept of right and wrong (a young man I remember seeing in the mirror years ago). I found myself wanting to applaud Raseed’s insights when they matched up with my own thinking (everybody loves an ego reflector) and at the same time I could not deny a sense of admiration for Raseed when he stood strong in his values and refused a temptation to action or speech – restraint, discipline, and honor are the hallmarks of the dervishes in Saladin Ahmed’s world, and his most pious character was an exemplar of all three.
The tribeswoman, Zamia Banu Laith Badawi, with her shapeshifter’s ability, was a refreshing sight as well – it’s not uncommon to have adolescent girls occupy places of power and agency in fiction, but Zamia’s genuine autonomy felt like a welcome change (maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong books).
Saladin Ahmed has written a stellar tale of intrigue, suspense, and, at times, horror. The ghul maker only gets a few pages to his name, but they were among the most ghastly parts of the book. Thankfully, they are short and are clearly included not to horrify or shock, but to encourage greater sympathy with the protagonists: the bad guy is someone who absolutely must be stopped.
I have never visited the regions to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. My only travels there have been through history classes, the occasional poem, and the ubiquitous news reels of our modern day. This news, at least in my home country, seems aimed at maintaining a view of the Middle East as being a hotbed of war, misogyny, religious fanaticism, and government corruption.
Certainly those things are true of some areas in the Middle East, but the same could be said of my home country. More importantly, with all stories the whole truth contains so much more than we are first shown.
That was my motivation for reading Saladin Ahmed’s book: to learn more about the one part of the world that has, for all of my years, been presented to me as a place I would never want to visit. Despite Throne of the Crescent Moon being a work of fiction, I had no doubt that I would learn from it. And learn I did.
From the scenes of conviviality around tea and plates of food, to scenes of bustling markets, or quiet nights under the stars in the open desert, Ahmed’s story showed me visions of what I always knew to be true about the Middle East, but which I had allowed to be quelled and forgotten behind the news of the day. I turned the final page of Crescent Moon with a sense of being cut off from the Middle East, and from the vibrant, colorful, joyous, and wondrous scenes of life there. And I hoped that worldwide efforts might someday soon be truly joined in service to conviviality, to trade, and to peace.
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.