“I’m old and ready to die, and God is testing me with monsters fouler than I’ve ever faced.
My home… is charred and smoking and every book I’ve ever owned is gone.
On top of all this, my dreams are of rivers of blood in the streets.”
– Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
The two most important elements to a successful sword-and-sorcery story, in my opinion, are character development and action. Readers want to experience an “edge-of-your-seat” storyline but if they’re not emotionally connected to or interested in the characters, it’s all for naught. In Ahmed’s debut, these two elements are not just well done – they’re extraordinary.
The action and pacing were fantastic – once Adoulla sets off on his quest to find the magus who is raising the ghuls and killing countless numbers of innocents (including Zamia’s entire nomadic tribe), I literally could not put this book down. I usually don’t read an entire book in one sitting but I did with this one – Throne of the Crescent Moon was literally unputdownable.
And I haven’t even mentioned world building yet! Although Ahmed’s depiction of the Cresent Moon Kingdoms – and particularly the city of Dhamsawaat – was subtle, the understated focus on description throughout was effective. In one sequence, Ahmed describes a breakfast as “the dozen layered aromas” and ultimately that’s the affect his writing had on me. As I was reading, I could almost taste the Cardamom tea, hear the nightmarish hissing sounds of approaching ghuls, and smell the fresh camel dung in the side streets.
Bottom line: If you’re a fantasy fan – and it doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of paranormal fantasy, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, etc. – chances are very good that you’ll find Throne of the Crescent Moon to be one of the best novels you read this year.
I dare you to put this novel down once you start reading it!
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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