A couple of days ago, I finished reading Saladin Ahmed’s debut novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon [ Powells | BN ]. This is Arabian-inspired fantasy, a subgenre that Saladin appears to share almost exclusively with Howard Andrew Jones, and it’s a lot of fun.
The book’s been getting considerable critical buzz, and justly so. What I particularly love about Throne of the Crescent Moon is the degree to which the individual characters are beset by their own flaws and insecurities. Ahmed has not given us Heinleinian Competent Heroes; rather he has given us people who feel very familiar, perhaps even ordinary, even in the midst of having extraordinary skills and powers. Another striking thing about the book is that, rooted in a non-European tradition, both the fantastic tropes and the everyday life portrayed within the narrative have a fresh, lateral feel.
Ahmed’s writing is deft and graceful, and his characters move through a world of real stakes and significant consequences, much to their cost. Combine this with glorious setting and his careful mastery of craft, and you have a lovely fantasy read on your hands.