Throne Of The Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed REVIEW

Throne Of The Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed book review: The Doctor will kill you now.


Release Date: 17 January 2013
288 pages | £20.00
Author: Saladin Ahmed
Publisher: Gollancz

It’s easy to agree with Lies Of Locke Lamora author Scott Lynch when he says that Throne of The Crescent Moon “buoyantly fails to suck”. Another ho-hum, medieval backdrop would have sucked. Prophecies would have sucked. The clichéd boy-hero on a journey of self-discovery would also have sucked. Instead, Saladin Ahmed gives us the rich Arabian city of Dhamsawaat, zombified “ghuls” and a 60-year-old protagonist in a grump.

The 60-year-old in question is Dr Adoulla Makhslood, an ageing ghul-hunter. When he and his dervish assistant Raseed start investigating a savage murder on the outskirts of Dhamsawaat, they get dragged into a dark conspiracy that threatens to destroy the city. It’s a refreshing approach. Making Adoulla the hero is like retooling Star Wars and giving Obi Wan Kenobi the lead. The Dr can still save the world, but he’ll need a sit down and a cup of cardamom tea afterwards.

Thankfully, Throne Of The Crescent Moon isn’t just an epic fantasy reskinned with kaftans, camels and scimitars. It’s smartly written, with a cluster of likeable characters that also includes a shapeshifter and a Zorro-esque freedom fighter. Admittedly, there are fewer twists and turns than you might be hoping for, while magic has that convenient smartbomb effect that often rescues the characters from life-threatening situations.

Does it spoil the story? God’s balls, no. Ahmed grabs your attention with a nasty, menacing prologue and doesn’t let go, deftly wrapping up the action in a satisfying, do-or-die finale that leaves plot strands a-dangling for the next instalment. A strong debut.

Dean Evans

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