This was another book I’d been meaning to read just because it was a non-eurocentric traditional fantasy, and also because it was recommended by a friend. Beneath Ceaseless Skies had a twitter contest that I entered and won an audiobook copy, which was great – I love audiobooks, but they’re so expensive!
There’s a bunch of 1-star reviews on this book on good reads, and almost all of them justify it by saying they didn’t like the amount of blessed this and by the grace of the almighty god, etc. I don’t think that’s fair at all. I think those are all prejudiced Americans who are terrified of other cultures. I rolled my eyes at those reviews.
It was a great book, and nice to see something set in a middle-east inspired setting with such a balanced cast of characters, not to mention not being filtered through a lens of western hatred of Islam. Not only is there a variety of different character personalities – from the uptight, uber-religious Raseed right through the irreverent Doctor Adoulla, but also represented are varying cultures within the middle east, to remind us that there is as much, and probably more, variety of cultures within the middle east as there are in North America. From the crowded city, to the nomads, to ancient empires, I’d say it was richly imagined, but I don’t think it’s far from the reality of the region.
Aside from the golems and alchemists and child eating man-jackal, of course.
As far as the plot, I’ll say what others have said – it’s a good old fashioned traditional fantasy. The author doesn’t hide behind any bullshit “Women didn’t do anything important back then” and has several prominent female characters. I loved that the main character, Adoulla is an aging wizard, and yet he’s not pushed to the background and denied a romantic plot for being the age he is.
The reader was great and I think he did the story justice with different accents and voices. Thanks go out to Beneath Ceaseless Skies for providing the audiobook.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment.