My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Crescent Moon kingdom is at a crossroads. The ruling Kalif is being challenged by the Falcon Prince, an enigmatic thief. Dr. Makhslood is the last of the real ghul hunters, and is tired and getting to the point of retiring from his demanding profession. His assistant, Raseed bas Raseed is a pious holy warrior with a swift, deadly blade. Together, they are called to investigate a series of brutal supernatural murders which touched the family of Makhslood’s lost love. When they travel to find the evil behind the murders, they meet Zamia, a young tribeswoman gifted with the ability to shapeshift into a lion. She, too, is hunting the murderer to avenge the death of her father. While tracking down the sorcerer behind the murders, they learn of a plot to overthrow the kingdom that could turn the kingdom into a bloody battleground.
It wasn’t a bad book. In fact, I rather liked it. The plot was a little slow throughout, but the worldbuilding and characters were the best parts here. The author draws on Arabic folklore and mythology, bringing djinn and other supernatural ideas from those sources. The twists he puts on the Arabic background give the setting and story a fresh feel. Characters have dimension, feelings, and flaws. The evil is evil, and the threat of destruction feels true. The desert world comes to life as we experience it through the characters. There is conflict, both external in the battles against the ghuls and other creatures sent to create chaos, and internal in Raseed’s obvious attraction to Zamia, despite his vows, and Makhslood’s regret over his lost love. All of that keeps the sometimes slow moving plotline from becoming tedious.
Readers who like epic fantasy and are looking for something a bit different from the usual elves, magicians, and medieval settings will probably enjoy this one.
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