Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Fiction! It’s been too long! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been loving diving into these nonfiction and personal development books but boy am I excited to read some fantasy fiction! I purchased Throne of the Crescent Moon on my birthday last year with the express intent to read it in a week… And after being buried in my nightstand drawer for the last six months, I’ve finally had the distinct pleasure of visiting the grand city of Damasawaat.
Not the Average Pilgrimage
Throne of the Crescent Moon provides a really refreshing look at the time-worn genre of fantasy fiction. Rather than the typical Tolkien-Faux European landmass filled with dragons, elves, and dwarves, we are introduced to the exotic land of Abassen. Populated by holy warriors, empty deserts, evil magus, and foul ghuls giving the world that Saladin Ahmed builds a wonderful near east flair that reeks of strong cardamom tea.
Another thing that differs slightly from the typical fantasy novel is the scope. Instead of the sweeping adventure stretching from one end of a vast empire to another, we spend almost the entire read in the king of cities, Damasawaat. Myself, I’m a huge fan of this. When I run my own dungeons and dragons games I find myself focusing the story around a major city, so as a fellow creator I can relate.
Damasawaat itself acts as its own character, both beautiful and conflicted. It is mentioned several times in the book that Damasawaat is the largest city in the world, hence the metaphor of king of cities. With this title comes varying boons and curses. The rich are exceedingly rich and at the top of the heap is the corrupt Khalif, Jabbari akh-Khaddari, who after inheriting his title from his recently deceased father has implemented unjust taxes upon the populace causing the poor to become even poorer. On the other side of the coin, we find the Falcon Prince, Pharaad Az Hammaz, the would-be usurper of the title of Khalif. After years of hit and run tactics, the Falcon Prince and his army of poor and resentful citizens of Damasawaat are gearing up to revolt.
While all this is happening there are a string of mysterious and dark murders in the streets of Damasawaat that reek of foul magic. This is where our cast of characters comes in.
Alkhemist, Magus, Ghul Hunter, Dervish, and Lioness
I’ve made it aware in a previous post that I LOVE Dungeons and Dragons. This is actually how Throne of the Crescent Moon came on to my radar. I was looking for new inspiration for my own campaign and was recommended this book. Now one of my favorite parts of Dungeons and Dragons is creating a really deep and rich character and this is where I feel that Throne of the Crescent Moon shines.
Our party contains five members, three of whom are over 50! This creates a really unique dynamic. Three of these characters have seen, slain, and dungeon crawled for an entire lifetime, and retirement is a thing most heroes see when they are six feet under, which they are far too aware of.
- Doctor Adoulla Makhslood – Ghul Hunter: Adoulla, 60, is the last of a dying order known as the Ghul Hunters, a once-revered order whos prowess in combating foul magics used by evil magus and their ghul servants is unmatched. Adoulla has been at this game a long time and is very much ready to retire from his sworn duty and settle down.
- Raseed bas Raseed – Dervish of the Lodge of God: Raseed, 17, is the partner to Abdoulla, helping him with his journies in hunting ghuls. He was originally trained in the Lodge of God as a Dervish where Raseed is seen as hands down one of the most talented in the order, he now acts as an assistant to Adoulla. Where he is proficient in holy scripture and sword whirling he lacks in wisdom and real-world experience.
- Zamia Banu Laith Badwai – Tribes girl touched by the Angels: Zamia, 15, is a tribeswoman from the Empty Kingdoms. She received the gift of the becoming the protector of her band, gaining the really awesome ability to shapeshift into a golden lioness. If I dig into any more of her story I’ll be jumping into spoiler territory.
- Litaz Daughter-of-Likami – Alkhemist: Litaz, 55, is a master of elixirs, poisons and courtly intrigue. Wife of Dawoud and former adventuring partner of Adoulla, she is actually a migrant to Damasawaat from the Soo Republic (I really wish I knew more about the Soo Republic, but there isn’t much to go on). Her and Dawoud have all but retired using their God-given gifts to help the poor of Damasawaat.
- Dawoud Son-of-Wajeed – The Magus: Dawoud, 65, is the oldest and possibly the most innately powerful of the group. He is a magus, with the ability to use powerful magic for both healing and destructive purposes, sadly though, with a cost. In the world of Throne of the Crescent Moon magic is powered by life force and unlike the evil magus of the world, Dawoud has given his own life force to cast his spells, making him look decades older than his actual age.
The book jumps from perspective between these five, giving each characters unique take on the adventure, and the city of Damasawaat, giving each district an interesting point of view, no matter how many times we visit it. While I do really love the older characters in the story, I have to say that a majority of the character development is given to the two younger characters. Obviously, this is the correct action for Saladin to make but since we don’t have any sequel to this book yet it leaves me hungry for more. This also leaves me to my biggest complaint about the book…
Please… I Need More
I really love this book, its settings, and most of all the unique characters but I blazed through this book….. like a day and a half, and there isn’t a sequel. Mind you Saladin Ahmed has been doing a great job as a writer over at Marvel comics for the past few years, working on both Black Bolt and Spiderman. Just… please, Saladin… Help me out. I need the sequel like stat bro.
Well, there is my two cents about this really fun piece of fiction. Do you guys have any suggestions for a good fantasy series? If you do let me know down below. I’ve also left a few links down below to some of Saladin Ahmed’s work. When you do decide to buy through these links I provide I do receive a small commission and for that, I am forever grateful.