Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon - Saladin Ahmed

About the book

From Saladin Ahmed, finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards, comes one of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts, THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights. 

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, Khalifs and killers, is on the brink of civil war. To make things worse, a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. And it's up to Doctor Adoulla Makhslood to solve them. 

"The last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," Adoulla just wants a quiet cup of tea. But when an old flame's family is murdered, he is drawn back to the hunter's path. Recruiting old companions and new, Adoulla races against time--and struggles against his own misgivings--to discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin. 

274 pages (hardcover)
Published on: Feb. 7, 2012
Published by: DAW
Author’s webpage


Recently I’ve discovered that I’m kind of sick of the same old fantasy world. You know what I’m talking about; there’s a king and a queen and some sort of royal family all living in a castle set somewhere that reminds me of the English countryside. The women wear big dresses and titter behind perfumed fans and talk about poison. Maybe there’s a thief prowling the roofs. Someone has magic. Some people don’t. Or maybe the story is about a chosen-for-greatness country bumpkin who has to overcome all odds to defeat the Evil One and leave his job of plowing cornfields behind.

There’s nothing wrong with books like that, and I do enjoy and read my fair share of them. I guess, for right now, I’m just sick of them. I’m looking for something new. A new setting, a new story, new characters, new… well, just new. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to get my hands on Throne of the Crescent Moon. Nothing in this book reminds me of medieval Europe and so it scratched my itch perfectly.

In fact, Throne of the Crescent Moon takes place in a very Arabic influenced world. Usually fantasy books with Arabic Influence bother me because they are so obviously borrowed and thus seem a bit cheap. However, Ahmed, while using the Middle East as an obvious influence, does it in such an artistic, classy and realistic way that it doesn’t read as cheap or without depth. In fact, his world really shines. It’s almost poetic and with Ahmed’s sprinkling of cultural detail into his narrative does a wonderful job at familiarizing the reader with the world and culture without hitting them over the head with infodumps or long and evolved histories.

The story itself centers on an infamous ghul hunter, Adoulla and his young partner the Dervish Raseed as they battle ghuls and eventually come upon a lone tribal girl, Zamia, with gifts of her own. Mixed with this is the mysterious Falcon Prince, a figure much like Robin Hood, who is causing plenty of political upheaval in his own right as he stand against the oppressive Khalif. With this interesting mix of characters one can see that Ahmed has set an incredibly volatile political atmosphere in the midst of his unique and remarkable world. Mixed with all of this is a mysterious ghul master who seems determined to keep Adoulla busy while he fights against the natural order of things.  

One can see, after they understand the main players in Throne of the Crescent Moon, how the plot would be fast paced, action packed and, at times, rather surprising. In fact, the characterization was rather surprising considering that Ahmed is a debut author. He uses a vast range of fantasy stereotypes in this book, but none of them feel overdone or tired due to his unique world and culture. This is a huge plus, because while Adoulla would easily be seen as the aged wizard in many other fantasy tropes, but in Throne of the Crescent Moon he is a new, unique type of fantasy character. Thanks to the world and because of Ahmed’s brilliant ability to bring the reader into the character’s minds, it’s easy for the reader to see him as an exhausted, resigned old man.

Perhaps the only real downside of Throne of the Crescent Moon is the length. In this short novel a reader can find much more than they’d expect, but the length doesn’t allow for the author to expand upon many of the ideas in the way I’d like. For example, I’d love to know more about how the magic system worked and some areas of the plot could have easily been longer.

The highest compliment I can pay Throne of the Crescent Moon is to say that it made me incredibly hungry. I know what you’re thinking, “Sarah, that is a weird compliment to pay a book,” but hear me out. Throne of the Crescent Moon was so well done, the culture was so vibrant, the world was so colorful and reminiscent of the Middle East that every time I read the book I wanted to eat tons of kebobs and cucumbers.  Indeed, this is the first book I have ever complained that it was too short. That right there says volumes.

In the end, Throne of the Crescent Moon is one hell of a debut by one incredibly promising author. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

5/5 stars

P.S. Once again I’m going to post this without checking typos and etc. My 7 month old is having a really uh… fun (sarcastic font)… day and I really want to get this up so I’m just posting it and hoping my devout readers will understand that sometimes fun days like this demand more time and attention than my post. 


  1. Good review - I kinda want to read this, but the shortness of it was putting me off. I tend to like my books long and detailed, usually! But after hearing your thoughts I think I'm gonna go ahead and add this one to the list! Thanks!!

  2. Yeah, this one was almost as good as Range of Ghosts, in my book. :)

    I do understand children change processes and sometimes makes that last spellcheck not happen.


    Yes! This is the whole point of my new term "Silk Road Fantasy". Throne fits, as does Range of Ghosts, Desert of Souls and Emperor's Knife.