Saladin Ahmed is considered by many in the science fiction and fantasy community to be an up and coming new author. He’s been a finalist for the Nebula and the Campbell award. His highly anticipated debut novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, came with high expectations in 2012. The books primary protagonist is Doctor Adoulla Makhslood , last of the ghul hunters. After spending a lifetime fighting undead monsters and evil sorcerers, Adoulla wants nothing more than to spend his remaining years drinking tea in comfort. But, when the relative of his former lover calls on him for help, he finds himself drawn into what may be the greatest threat to the crescent kingdoms.
Assisting Adoulla is Raseed bas Raseed, a young holy warrior. While Raseed is sworn to aid Adoulla, the rigid moral code of his order often makes him uncomfortable with the gray areas that Adoulla’s work often takes them into. Complicating matters further is Zamia Badawi, the last of her tribe. Gifted with the power to shapeshift into the form of a lion, Zamia is determined to avenge the death of her people. Adoulla must contend with dark prophecies, undead monsters, political corruption, and the growing romantic feelings between the stiff-necked Raseed and the wild Zamia.
Throne of the Crescent moon is an epic sword and sorcery tale steeped in the culture of the Arabian Nights. Ahmed is clearly drawing on his own cultural background, but he presents the novel in a way that won’t alienate western readers. The characters are interesting and flawed. They struggle with their own conflicts, both external and internal, but at the same time, draw the reader in and make them want to see the characters succeed.
This is an excellent first novel from a talent that I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from in the future. Throne of the Crescent Moon takes place in a rich world with plenty of potential for sequels, whether with the further adventures of Adoulla or with other characters.