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The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

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REVIEW | The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones

In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East.

The Desert of Souls is the solid debut novel by Howard Andrew Jones best known so far, but not for long, as the Editor of Black Gate Magazine, which specializes in Sword & Sorcery Fiction. Mark my words he is here to stay as a novelist. The Desert of Souls isn't a terribly deep novel, but if you just like to sit back and be entertained than it is a book you'll love filled with adventure, magic, evil magicians, prophecies, djinn, and nefarious dealings.  And if that wasn't enough it has zombie monkeys! And I say this again because it bears repeating: Zombie monkeys!

Told from the very able perspective of Asim the captain of the guard to an important Baghdad noble who has the ear of the Caliph. Asim is a heroes' hero.  He manages to muscle or luck his way out of nearly any situation in the end even if he loses face at times.  He is accompanied by Dabir a worldly scholar who has dabbled in many things throughout his education.  Together they are a sort of ancient middle east version of Holmes and Watson and play off one another quite well as they go in search of a missing relic that could lead to a lost city in the sands. At points they barely stumble through, but lady luck seems to be on their side at every twist.

The Desert of Souls is a smoothly written, timeless adventure never making more of itself than it is: a good adventurous time with deftly handled fight scenes. The characterizations are perfect for the narrative making the story and world feel very realistic and something almost pulled out of the past. Between James Enge, Alex Bledsoe, Steven Erickson, Abercrombie (to a degree), and now Jones Swords & Sorcery is enjoying quite a resurgence that I'm all for. With Jones it could be called Swords & Sorcery & Arabia.

The story plays with the style of earlier era pulps heroes ala Robert E. Howard and Arthur Conan Doyle while adding plenty of its own spin to it. The Arabian setting alone makes it standout for any people that fear an imitation. The story is framed somewhat ala The Name of the Wind with Asim as the narrator, but this merely focuses on one big adventure than a series of stories.  Still Asim is a very able storyteller and much feels like you're sitting around the fire listening in.

The Desert of Souls is a wholly satisfying buddy escapade.  I give The Desert of Souls 8 out of 10 hats. This is the kind of book that felt like it was written specifically for me and pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've closed the cover and shout for more.  There is a sequel in the works that will probably be out next year. I'll definitely be there for the next adventure in the sands.

You Might Also Like:
REVIEW | The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe
REVIEW | Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
REVIEW | Swords & Dark Magic edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders


vvb32 reads said...

you got me with zombie monkeys! also want to read about the djinn.

yanic said...

Awesome stuff, i have this book, ill give it a read once im finished with warhammer warrior priest!

Anonymous said...

Sounds really unique. Great review. I'm going to have to check this one out when I've made it a little further down my towering ARC pile.