When I uploaded a cover for the currently reading post for this book, I chose the more serious looking one a bit further in this review. After having read Throne Of The Crescent Moon, the debut of Michigan born Saladin Ahmed, I have to say the cover on the left of this paragraph is more suiting. This book has won the Locus FN in 2013, and is the first in a trilogy. It feels like Young Adult to me, and the Arabian Nights setting feels mainly as window-dressing for what is a simple, typical fantasy adventure. That’s a bit of a shame, because I had my senses set on a different book, wanting to enjoy the magic of being transported to an unknown, original, challenging other world.
What we get instead is something we already know: a world that used to be populated by vast, magical armies, but in which today hardly anybody knows the skill to summon or fight them anymore – except for one of the protagonists and the main adversary, of course. There’s also a new, cruel and inapt ruler (called a Khalif here, since, well, the book has this Middle-Eastern vibe going on). Everything happens in typical big, crowded capital, and a few nondescript adjacent places in an adjacent desert. The villain has been able to tap Ancient forces, set on conquering the throne. Yet this Khalif nor this villain come across as a real threat, since we don’t get know them – except for 3 short torture scenes with the villain that feature as prologues to each of the 3 parts. It’s also pretty clear early on that our heroes will just beat them, without suffering losses themselves, since it’s simply that kind of book. As a result, you read on just to see how, but I never felt invested. I thought of abandoning the book multiple times, but read on, since it’s a rather short and easy, and nothing really annoyed me.
Some reviews praise the characters, and the fact that they are flawed. Indeed, the three main characters aren’t really flat nor perfect, we do get to know them, but they’re pretty much reduced to one trait each: