A suitably grandiose blurb:
The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut novel from new talent Howard Andrew Jones.
I'm not going to waste a whole bunch of time here. I've always been in love with all the different incarnations of the Arabian Nights tales. Something about the period, the culture and the mythology fascinates me. So when I saw The Desert of Souls with its fantasic cover art (and I rarely pay attention to cover art), I bought it... planning to shelve it for a rainy day.
The problem is, I couldn't wait. So I read it. And enjoyed it. In fact, I had a bit of a problem putting it down for any length of time. Now, I'm not going to try to convince anyone that this book reinvents the genre or anything like that, but as far as adventure and entertainment goes... Howard Andrew Jones impressed me in this debut novel. Quite a bit.
There's not a lot I can say about it that you can't read in the blurbs, but I will tell you that it's a first-person narrative -- all the way through. I like to get that out of the way quickly, because I've learned (and no one was more surprised than me) that a lot of people seem to break out in hives when their novels stray from the traditional third-person omniscient/limited. It makes no sense to me that someone would dismiss a book for this reason, but there you have it. Don't say no one ever told you.
The story mainly involves Captain Asim el Abbas and the scholar Dabir ibn Khalil - who are both in the employ of Jaffar (the caliph's vizier). Together they must ferret out the meaning of an odd artifact that a dying man leaves at their feet in an 8th century Baghdad marketplace.
There's also an evil Zarathustran Magi, some djinn, a kidnapped beautiful princess, swordfights, zombie monkeys, betrayal and a little bit of unrequited love thown in for good measure. Quite the Arabian ride if you ask me.
Althought it's obvious that Asim and Dabir will be teaming up in some further adventures (hopefully anyway), this novel contains one complete story -- which scores Jones some major points in my eyes.
Buy it. Read it. That's my official recommendation.
I have never made a reply to a book review before. I really liked this book too. It is not perfect the secondary characters could be more developed, but in all a fun read. A worthy book. I, like you, could not resist reading this book. It was suppose to be part of my summer read pile for the cottage. However, I picked it up, read the first page and that was it, I was hooked and read cover to cover in 2 days. Now, I heard about this book in a book writer group I belong to, one of his friends wrote a review. Like you, I love the Arabian night sword and scocery tales and started looking for the book in our local bookstore. Not on the shelves. One of the ladies looked it up for me and found that there was only 5 books scattered across Ottawa. I thought perhaps that they had sent a limited amount into Canada. Who knows what they are thinking in the publishing world. Well, I posted a note to the person who had recommended the book to me in the first place to thank her, as I would have never found this book or heard of it for that matter. Apparently, the book is going to impossible to find in the US due to the fact that the Barnes and Noble book buyer did not like the cover of the book. I actually quite like the cover. It is a long weekend up here in Canada and we have had people in and out of the house for the past three days. I have purposely left this book out where people can see it. Every single person who came in picked the book up to have a look. It is like a magnet. I am not a writer or a Publisher but I can tell when people like something. And, this book attracts people like flies. But, a man can not sell a book that no one can see.
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