Throne of the Crescent Moon

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 1, 2013

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

We had a weird series of events around this meeting. Several of our regulars read the book, but due to various personal issues (sickness, travel, etc.) many of them missed the scheduled meeting. So only two people attended the meeting but four emailed in comments. Reports on the meeting and the mailed-in reports follow.

From the two who attended the meeting

We had both read the book, and not read anything by that author before.  We both liked the book.  We were impressed that the main characters all had developed back stories.  We agreed that the middle was a little slow.  We both thought that the author had left himself a lot of options for sequels or other books from that world, since the characters were going their separate ways at the end.  I especially liked the idea of an Arabian Paladin who was too zealous for his own good–which his leadership recognized by farming him out to somebody with a more flexible approach.  I liked the Barbarian wench, motivated by two things–revenge and wanting to restart her clan.  Others motivated by friendship and common interests.  I wish there had been more people in attendance, because the book merited a more broad discussion.

The first absentee (family in town)

No, never read Saladin Ahmed before, although I think his short stories sound interesting. May end up buying ’em for Kindle.

Yes, finished Throne of the Crescent Moon (on Kindle).

Very quick entertaining story; lots of action with just enough scenery and exposition so I knew I was in a very foreign country.  Good to read an Arab American author!  Don’t know if Mr. Ahmed has been to Istanbul, but he could have gotten some ideas from there.  For instance, the cistern under the palace…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_Cistern (ask Kurt if he’s been there).

Loved the characters, especially Adoulla, of course.  Wonder if the sequel will be about the “young people” since the three “old” folks all seem to be retiring at the end.  I enjoyed the little detail on the last page where the good doctor “clutched at his kaftan” — which will not stay pure white and clean after he gets married!!

To be honest, I think the whole book is too light weight to be a Hugo winner.  But I’d certainly recommend it and would probably read the sequel.

The second absentee (on business travel)

I’m out of town at ALA, but I actually finished this book. It was a fast read, though not a page turner. Overall, I’d say that I enjoyed it, though mostly for the characters and the culture. It seemed to me that the various ghuls and villains weren’t actually that hard to defeat. But then, maybe I was skmming instead of reading in those sections because they weren’t as compelling. I would prefer not to see Sword Boy and Lion Girl again–best leave it as unresolved tension. Think of all the TV shows and movies that fell apart once the sexual tension was released… The older characters were interesting, nice hints of their past heroics and adventures that I wouldn’t mind reading about some more. The book fell down in the end, as so many do–guess I’m getting inured to that. But yes, I’ll read more by this author, and I will seek him out if he’s in LoneStarCon programming.

The third absentee (on vacation)

I have about a hundred pages to go, but so far I really like this book.  Good characterization, world-building, vivid descriptions, strong story.  If it keeps up, it’s probably got my vote for the Hugo.

The final absentee (the Reading Group Organizer, who was sick)

I’ve read some of Saladin Ahmed’s short fiction previously. I read an electronic version of the book. I started the book and read about half before I got sick, and I plan to finish it.

I enjoyed this book’s unusual setting in a mythical Arab world. The story was a fast-paced adventure yarn full of well-staged action sequences. I enjoyed the older ghul hunter protagonist and  his relationships with his older friends and younger apprentice. The Falcon Prince was a fun Robin Hood-type character like those played by Errol Flynn in the movies. Characters were developed more deeply than I would have expected in an adventure novel, and I actually cared what happened to them. I look forward to finishing the book and will look for more from this author.

–A. T. Campbell, III