Pros: rolicking adventure, fun characters, brilliant antagonist, afterword include source materials for research
Cons: Sabirah’s character felt superfluous
A fortune teller’s prophecy and a theft at Jaffar’s palace, send Jaffar’s captain of the guard, Asim el Abbas, and his scholar, Dabir ibn Khalil, on a quest to retrieve a magical artifact.
This book is a fun adventure story set in the eighth century Abbasid caliphate of Haroun al-Rashid. Told from Asim’s point of view, there are several fights, kidnapping, magic, monsters, and more. It’s a fast paced book with a highly intelligent antagonist, so things very often don’t go well for our heroes.
My only complaint with the book was that Sabirah, an intelligent woman with an eidetic memory, is only there as a student / accused love interest (though the latter isn’t a focus of the story, merely a complication for one of the protagonists) and kidnap victim. She helps out with information on one occasion but is otherwise a tagalong on the quest.
Still, it’s a great book and the afterword explains some of the history vs fantasy as well as gives historical sources should you wish to learn more about this era and its people.