Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed a new arabesque fantasy of high adventure and grand magic a review.

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This past month I have been really getting back into Arabian Nights style modern fantasy as a change from all the Medieval European fantasy that is out there; and also to have a break from beloved far eastern Wuxia inspired fantasy. If you read any of my older posts you would see I share the same amount of love for Arabian/Persian Mythology, Folklore and fantasy as I do for For Eastern fantasy. “My second favorite fantasy epic is the Arabian Nights, which I tend to read at least once a year. I also  have a great love for doing research on Arabian folklore and mythology and my shelves are adorned with several books on the subject. In the mean time, I am always on the look out for new writers who are creating the same feel and tone that the original Arabian nights has, which is that desert Arabesque fantasy fiction set in the Islamic Golden Age that is filled with Djinn, Magi, magic carpets, Dervish and other elements that makes the Nights so magical.

Well in my search for modern fantasy writers who write Arabesque fantasy fiction I had stumbled upon Saladin Ahmed and his premier novel The Throne of the Crescent Moon which is set to be a trilogy, Here is a synopsis of the book.

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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, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

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The main protagonists of the novel Throne of the Crescent Moon (from left to right) Zamia, Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, Raseed bas Raseed

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

I really enjoyed the Throne of the Crescent Moon. It is filled with high adventure and fantastic magic perfect for any lover of fantasy fiction. You almost feel like you are reading a version of Ray Harryhausen’s 1958 film the 7th voyage of Sinbad. What is also really fascinating are the characters in this novel. They stray away from western fantasy stereotypes that are so common in fantasy fiction and introduce us to a new and unique culture that we as westerners are totally unfamiliar with. I can’t wait for the sequels to Throne of the Crescent Moon to come out as I have really grown attached to the protagonists. I have even created a Role Playing Character based on the dervish Raseed bas Raseed for Pathfinder adventure campaigns that are based in the desert.

Map of The Crescent Moon Kingdom from Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Map of The Crescent Moon Kingdom from Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

What I also feel, is that Saladin Ahmed novel hails as a direct descendent of the original Arabian Nights series of tales, and it shows. Saladin spent a lot of time researching the Arabian Nights and Islamic mythology to get the correct feel for his trilogy. Because of this he doesn’t disappoint as his story feels like it was ripped right from the pages of the Arabian Nights themselves. What is also interesting is how much research and information Saladin has gathered for writing this grand epic. I follow a few of his feeds like Twitter and Tumbler and he is always posting new and obscure facts and information about the Arabian Nights from time to time. It would be really interesting to see if he will ever create a non-fiction prose about the Arabian nights with all the information and research he has obtained in order to write this trilogy.

You will also find that Saladin Ahmed’s writing style is definitely award winning in its own right. The Throne of the Crescent Moon has already been nominated for both a Hugo award for best novel 2013 as well as a nomination for a Nebula award for best new novel 2012 and won the Locus award for best new novel 2013. Saladin was also a finalist for the John W Campbell award 2010 and the nebula award for best short story 2009. This is definitely an author to watch out for in the near future. Saladin Ahmed is hoping to finish writing the sequels, and they should be in print by 2015.

Saladin Ahmed Author of The Throne of the Crescent Moon

Saladin Ahmed Author of The Throne of the Crescent Moon

So if you are looking for a modern Arabesque Fantasy novel that feels and reads very much like the Arabian Nights or are looking for something different to line your fantasy bookshelf go out and pick up a copy of The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed trust me you won’t be disappointed.

And if you are interested in looking for other non-western/medieval fantasy, Saladin Ahmed has a really great list on his Pinterest account (link is highlighted)

Here is also Saladin’s great webpage and blog where you can get updates on his work.

I also highly recommend his twitter and  tumbler accounts as they are very insightful, informative and sometimes downright fun to read (trust me his knowledge which also encompasses the golden age comics and pulp fiction are also unparallelled I am always learning new tidbits from him).

 

I’m Eric from The Strangers Bookshelf wishing you a Happy Quest.

 

Fantasy Epics from Around the World

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Most of you know by now that I tend to stray from the Lord of the Rings type of fantasy setting, (I hear many a scream from Tolken fans right now). I am greatly interested in fantasy and folklore from other cultures. I am always researching folktales/folklore and Mythology from Arabia, Persia, India, China, Japan, Mongolia and Tibet/Nepal and other countries that have a large folk and myth tradition. The Arabian Nights and Journey to the west are my all time epic fantasy reads and a couple of times a year I pull out my collection and have a good read. I always feel surreal when I read them and I am always on the look out for similar tales of fantasy from these cultures, but written by more modern day fantasy authors. For instance, last week I picked up  Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. A totally awesome Arabic inspired fantasy with Magi, ghul hunters, and specially trained Dervish monks. It totally reminded me of the old Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting called Al-Qadim that I played back in the day of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I liked it so much I started searching for fantasy novels in a similar style. Interestingly enough I came across a list of 10 great fantasy novels set in a non Western/European fantasy on Saladin Ahmed’s pinterest feed. As per usual after I read the list I went and paid our local library a visit and picked up most of the books that he recommended.

Throne of the crescent moon by Saladin Ahmed

Throne of the crescent moon by Saladin Ahmed

Al-Qadim for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Al-Qadim for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

But it got me thinking, why isn’t there more modern fantasy inspired from other cultures ? I mean I read the Indian classic epic the Ramayana, and it was as good or even better than most of the run of the mill fantasy on the market today. I think people should seek out some of these great classic epics from other cultures to read {{especially up and coming Fantasy authors and Fantasy Role playing Game creators}}. I believe this will greatly refresh the oh so stagnant  high fantasy/ sword and sorcery genre and at the same time widen the audience of fantasy lovers and bridge the diversity and give us westerners a better understanding of other cultures. Trust me folks there is other cultures out there in the fantasy world besides medieval Europe, and some of these cultures have such a rich storytelling tradition past down from generation to generation since ancient times, it would put to shame a lot of authors today. I mean why is the Arabian Nights still one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time, and why did the pioneers of the genre we all love; Fritz Leiber, Robert E Howard and J.R.R Tolkien use it as a template for their work? Why, because the storytelling is at it’s finest and it takes us on a tour to a world totally different than our own, a world we don’t understand and that is what fascinates us. So I give to you a list of traditional fantasy epics from around the world. Some of these books I still want to read and some I have read. I hope this list inspires many a fantasy author and game creator and breathes new life into the world of fantasy. And who knows It might inspire you go learn more about these countries, and you you never know you might find yourself standing beside the pyramids, or on the great wall, or near the blue mosque or that ancient town built into the mountains because you fell in love with that cultures mythology and folklore because of this list.

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List of world folk-epics

World folk-epics are those epics which are not just literary masterpieces but also an integral part of the weltanschauung of a people. They were originally oral literatures, which were later written down by either single author or several writers.

African languages

Bayajidda, a West African epic

Eri, a West African epic

Lianja, a Central African epic

Oduduwa, a West African epic

Silamaka, a Western African epic

Sundiata, a Western African epic

American languages

Tunkashila, an American Indian epic

Cana, an American Spanish epic

Asian languages

La Galigo, also known as Sureq Galigo or La Galigo, is an epic creation myth of the Bugis people from South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Written in an Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language, it is one of the longest epics in the world.

Alpamysh, an epic of all of Middle Asia

Bahman Nama, a Persian epic about the story of Bahman son of Isfandyar

Banu Goshasp Nama, a Persian epic about the daughter of Rustam

Bidasari, a Malay epic

Biag ni Lam-Ang (Life of Lam-Ang), an epic of the Ilocano of northern Luzon, the Philippines

Darangen, an epic of the Maranao of Mindanao, the Philippines. Derived from the Ramayana

Epic of King Gesar, a Tibetan epic, generally considered the longest in the world

Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest epic of the world from Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean world

Faramarz Nama, a story about the Persian hero Faramarz

Garshasp Nama, a Persian epic about the heroe Garshasp

Heike Monogatari (The Tale of the Heike), a Japanese epic

Hinilawod, an epic of the Panay-Bukidnons of Panay, the Visayas, central Philippines.

Jewang ungi, a Korean epic

Ibong Adarna, a Spanish-era Tagalog epic

Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic from India; known as Bharathayudha in Indonesia

Manas, an epic from Kyrgyzstan

Klei khan Y Dam San, an epic of Ede people in Central Highland (Tay Nguyen), Vietnam.

Book of Dede Korkut, an epic from Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turcomans of Iraq and other Turkic nations

Koroglu, an epic from Azerbaijan and Turkey

Oghuz-nameh, an epic from Oghuz Turkic nations (Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, as well as Turcomans of Iraq)

Kutadgu Bilig, an epic from Central Asia, Uighurs and other Turkic nations

Nagarakertagama, an Indonesian epic

On Jerusalem an epic written in Greek based on the Old Testament characters of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph

Panchatantra, a Sanskrit epic of Indian animal folktales

Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic from India

Sepha Khun Chang Khun Phaen, a Thai epic

Shahnama, a Persian epic

Silappadhikaram, a Tamil epic from India

Epic of Siri, in Tulu language from Karnataka, India

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of stories from mostly Persian and Arabic sources

Journey to the West (also known as “Monkey”), a Chinese novel

European languages

Aeneid, a Roman epic

Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic written in Old English

Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire an Irish lament

Cikli i Kreshnikëve, an Albanian epic

David of Sasun, Armenian national epic about war for freedom against Arabs in 9th century

Edda, a collection of Icelandic poems

Iliad, a Greek epic

Kalevala, a Finnish epic

Kalevipoeg, an Estonian epic

The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, a Georgian epic poem

Lāčplēsis, a Latvian epic

Le Morte d’Arthur, a collection of Arthurian legends in Middle English

Mabinogion, a Welsh epic

Nibelungenlied, a German epic poem

Njál’s saga, an Icelandic saga

Odyssey, a Greek epic

Os Lusíadas, a Portuguese epic

Prince Marko, a Serbian epic

Táin Bó Cúailnge, an Irish epic

The Lay of the Cid, a Spanish epic.

The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, a Slavic epic

Volsunga saga, a Scandinavian saga

Zoraje, a Slovene epic

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