Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat, sighed as he read the lines. His own case, it seemed, was the opposite. He often felt tired of life, but he was not quite done with Dhamsawaat. After threescore and more years on God’s great earth, Adoulla found that his beloved birth city was one of the few things he was not tired of. The poetry of Ismi Shihab was another.
To be reading the familiar lines early in the morning in this newly crafted book made Adoulla feel younger—a welcome feeling. The smallish tome was bound with brown sheepleather, and Ismi Shihab’s Leaves of Palm was etched into the cover with good golden acid. It was a very expensive book, but Hafi the bookbinder had given it to Adoulla free of charge. It had been two years since Adoulla saved the man’s wife from a cruel magus’s water ghuls, but Hafi was still effusively thankful.
Adoulla closed the book gently and set it aside. He sat outside of Yehyeh’s, his favorite teahouse in the world, alone at a long stone table.
His dreams last night had been grisly and vivid—blood-rivers, burning corpses, horrible voices—but the edge of their details had dulled upon waking. Sitting in this favorite place, face over a bowl of cardamom tea, reading Ismi Shihab, Adoulla almost managed to forget his nightmares entirely.
The table was hard against Dhamsawaat’s great Mainway, the broadest and busiest thoroughfare in all the Crescent Moon Kingdoms. Even at this early hour, people half-crowded the Mainway. A few of them glanced at Adoulla’s impossibly white kaftan as they passed, but most took no notice of him. Nor did he pay them much mind. He was focused on something more important.
Upon announcement, Saladin Ahmed’s debut novel, Throne of the Crescent Moon shot to the top of my most anticipated books. It’s been perched up there leering at me ever since. If you’re a fan of old school Sword & Sorcery, or you’re looking for Fantasy that steps away from the traditional faux-European setting, give Ahmed’s work a look.
For further introduction to Doctor Adoulla Makhslood and the setting from Throne of the Crescent Moon, be sure to read some of Ahmed’s award-nominated short fiction. I enjoyed ‘Where Virtue Lives’ (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #15) most particularly.