I’ve been struggling with fantasy novels lately. For reasons that I largely suspect lie smack dab at the crossroads of It’s Not You and It’s Me, I just can’t get full invested. I read a chapter or two and then I kinda go, “meh” and start looking for kitten memes on the internet*.
I’m apparently not alone, either. In a recent blog post of his own, fantasy author Sam Sykes took a potshot at why it might not all be my fault. But discussing that topic is another post entirely.
Put simply, Throne is the first traditional fantasy I’ve read in a long time that has me looking forward to the next in the series. Ahmed brings tremendous life and breath to a whole new world, the likes of which many of us haven’t experienced since reading excerpts from One Thousand and One (Arabian) Nights lo, the many years ago as part of a reading class in school. Much of the book focuses on life in the great city of Dhamsawaat, a grand, dusty place filled with as much hardship as wonder.
The setting isn’t the only thing that sets Throne of the Crescent Moon apart. Being part adventure, part horror, and even part mystery, it weaves together a story with facets of magic, politics, revenge, and dirty, messy, brutish real life against the backdrop of a showdown between the oft-weary forces good and the insatiable, seemingly indefatigable forces of evil. And even as the battle between light and darkness is at the core of the conflict, Ahmed still manages to highlight the subtle shades of gray that challenge our everyday modern lives.
The real magic in accomplishing all that comes from the characters. The protagonists are all whispers of people you’ve probably known at one point in your life or the other, with real loves, real hang-ups, and very identifiable problems. I mean, sure they know spells, can turn into a lion, or wield a blessed sword as a holy warrior with unnatural speed and stamina, but they’re still every bit as screwed up and confused about life as we can be.
At roughly 300 pages, Throne of the Crescent Moon is a refreshing change of pace from today’s plodding epics. It isn’t the kind of meandering fantasy novel that takes three people to carry and a month to finally get through. It’s a fast, compelling read that won’t have you slogging, wondering how long until something interesting happens.
Especially since something interesting is likely to happen on the next page.
Is it a perfect story? Of course not. But Throne is a colorful, exciting introduction to a new, exotic world full of people I can still absolutely relate to. It’s a solid debut and a wonderful start to a series. I’m absolutely looking forward to the sequel.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. I’d love to hear yours. Please leave a comment so we can discuss!
Oh, and if you’re wondering where you can score Throne, I have compiled a handy list for you:
Linky McLinkage for Throne of the Crescent Moon:
- Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed on Goodreads.
- Get the book from Amazon. Or the Kindle version, if you’d prefer.
- You could get it from Barnes and Noble. But then, would you rather the Nook book?
- Hey, why not support an independent bookstore, and get it from indiebound?
You know what, however you want to get it, just get it. I won’t judge.
Well, unless you steal or pirate it. That business is no good for anyone, you included. So knock it the hell off. If you’re short on cash, hit the library. I know people that’ll be happy to get you sorted with a library card.
That’s it for this one. Now go read a book. Then we’ll talk about it.
*Truth be told, I’d teach myself to play spoons in a jug band before I went looking for kitten memes on the internet.