Audiobook Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

8 02 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Read by Phil Gigante

Brilliance Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 16 Min

Genre: Fantasy

Quick Thought: Throne of the Crescent Moon is the rare fantasy that seems to do everything right in an accessible, highly readable way. This book will thrill fantasy fans, and make them long to discover even more about Saladin Ahmed’s intriguing world. Even better, this is the type of accessible fantasy that I would have no trouble recommending to people whether they are fans of the genre or not.

Grade: A

Of all the genres that make up the strange all encompassing label of "genre" fiction, I am probably most picky about Fantasy. I really never got into true Fantasy until my late twenties. Before that, I read mostly thrillers and horror novels, while my obsession with Post Apocalyptic literature pushed me deeper and deeper into science fiction. Yet, due to my love of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, I started to take forays into Fantasy. I found for the most part, despite the fact that I loved Tolkien, I couldn’t really get into the whole elves and dragons, swords and sorcery thing. A foreword in a book I was reading turned me onto Stephen Donaldson, and I slowly began entering the world of the Big Bad Fantasy novel. I have always been amazed with the fantasists’ ability to create worlds. I loved the way that Donaldson’s The Land became a character in its own way, and how Martin suckered me into Westeros with A Game of Thrones, before even unleashing the more magical aspects of his world. Yet for me, world building, no matter how proficiently done is never enough. I needed characters. I needed people who I can relate with, who I could cheer for, who I could become frustrated with, because no matter how fantastic the world was, I needed to experience it with someone. When I first began to hear the buzz about Ahmed Saladin’s new fantasy novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon, I was a bit skeptical. It sounded like one of those Sword and Sorcery novels for hardcore Fantasy Fans. Yet, I’ll have to admit, I was pulled into the hype through social media. I became intrigued, and was finally pushed over the top when I heard the audiobook version was being read by my favorite narrator Phil Gigante. Yeah, I’m a sucker for a good narrator. Sue me.

Throne of the Crescent Moon is set in the great city of Dhamsawaat, an Arabian city from an alternate past, where maji sell their spells, and ghuls are a scourge of the servants of God. Doctor Abdoulla Makhslood, is an aging ghul hunter and an enemy of the fallen angle. When a former lover asks him to look into the untimely death of a relative, Doctor and his apprentice Raseed find themselves immersed in a battle against an enemy believed to be long dead, who is serving the forces they both oppose. Ahmed has created a vivid and refreshingly unique world based loosely on Arabian mythology. It’s a world of ancient evils and men of faith who battle in the name of God. Yet, it is not the black and white world of simple good versus evil. It’s a complex land of class struggle, and subtle religious differences leading to grand conflict. While I enjoyed this world, it was the characters that blew me away. On the surface, the Doctor seems to be an ebullient carefree character, quick with a joke and even quicker with an insult. Yet, dig down and you find a man who carries his heroism like a burden. He has surrounded himself with a strong tight group of friends, most of whom have lost all those close to them. In many ways, this group becomes a family of choice, as opposed to one of blood. I loved the fact that his younger characters, both Raseed his apprentice and the young orphaned tribal girl Zamia, are both overly serious warriors, yet Ahmed never forgets that they are also children, and gives them an appropriate amount of petulance and horror at the Doctor’s joviality. Add to this a greedy oppressive Prince, a robber baron looking to usurp the Princes Throne, some frightening baddies, and an action packed plot full of adventure, and plenty of twists, and you have the rare fantasy that seems to do everything right in an accessible, highly readable way. Throne of the Crescent Moon will thrill fantasy fans, and make them long to discover even more about Saladin Ahmed’s intriguing world, yet, even better, this is the type of accessible fantasy that I would have no trouble recommending to people whether they are fantasy fans or not. Simply put, Throne of the Crescent Moon is a highly enjoyable read.

I have talked before about the flavor of narration. I hate when an author creates a specific ethnic setting and the narrator reads most of the characters as if they are corn fed, Midwestern Americans. Phil Gigante’s narration of Throne of the Crescent Moon is full of flavor appropriate to this story.  Gigante doesn’t just use accents, but finds unique rhythms and enunciations to give each character his own exotic feel. He perfectly captures the Doctor’s often bombastic nature, full of fart sounds and drunken slurring while still portraying the complexities of his character. My favorite moments of the novel had to be Gigante‘s vocalizations of Mouw Awa the manjackal. It was both frightening, yet surprisingly full of a dark humor that made me laugh out. In fact, overall, I love how Gigante captured much of the humor that is prevalent in this novel, yet also delivers many of the more intimate moments with emotional impact. Throne of the Crescent Moon is a wonderful audiobook experience and a genius pairing of author and narrator.

 

Note: A special thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.