REVIEW: THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON

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THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON
SALADIN AHMED
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: EPIC-FANTASY, ACTION-ADVENTURE, MIDDLE-EASTERN SETTING, #OWNVOICES
★★★

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Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)synopsistagThe Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

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I think that the main reason it took me so long to get into this story was that I really struggled to like the main character, Adoulla. To be honest, he can be a be a prick, and not in a charming way.
—   During one conversation he orders Raseed to shut up
—   He’s horrible to Zamia. Admittedly his house has been burned down but he seems to think his losing his precious books is worse than her losing her entire family and tribe.
—   He’s annoyed that his ex, Miri, isn’t more sympathetic about his house when her niece has just been murdered.

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Basically, everyone else is suffering more and he seems genuinely pissed that he’s not getting enough sympathy. I preferred Miri, Raseed and Zamia as characters. Litaz, an alchemist and one of Adoulla’s oldest friends, was by far the most competent and interesting character (she was my favourite) but Zamia and Raseed each had so much potential. Miri, a brothel owner, seems to have some kind of information network but is only in one scene and no further details are given. This, Raseed’s conflict between his feelings versus his religious order, or Zamia’s culture and shapeshifting were such interesting ideas and I would have loved to see more any of them. I did like that three of the five main characters were edging towards retirement age and that there was a great dynamic between their experience/exhaustion and the youngsters’ impulsive enthusiasm.

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The plot was fun and pretty interesting. The world is really different — a sword and sorcery epic fantasy with a Middle Eastern lens rather than the stock European Middle-Ages. There’s quite a lot touched upon in terms of political instabilities and religious conflicts but it just felt a little underdeveloped. I would have liked a little exploration in the world-building.

All that being said, the big finale/ final act was really dramatic and had a lot of really cool action. I also really liked the ending, with a lot of morally grey choices and imperfect resolution.

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