As seen on Stumptown Books
First, the cover art is awesome. It caught my eye when I first saw it a few months ago, and after I was finished, it was obvious the art fit even more perfectly than I had originally thought. I do wish you were able to see the moon a little easier; I had basically completely missed it. But maybe that's just me.
The main character is the old guy casting the bad ass spell. How cool is it that our main hero is well into his 60s when this story picks up? Adoulla Makhslood is still the best at what he does. He's strong, wise, and loaded with a hilariously jaded point of view. I was able to picture him more clearly than any other character in the novel, and he seemed the most real. At first he's just another adventurer who doesn't want to deal with it anymore, but doesn't trust anyone else to get the job done. And in this case, the job is killing boat loads of ghuls. Did I mention how cool it is that the cannon fodder are ghuls? I love that! And it fits so perfectly in the setting.
Indeed, the setting for Throne
is the best part about it. It takes place in a fantasy Middle East instead of a fantasy Europe, and that is so refreshing and original. The names of people and places fit perfectly for the environment, but still retain an obviously fantastical slant. The characters constantly intone "God's peace" to one another - which for some may become annoying but I'm coming off of a year long Robert Jordan marathon, and no amount of repetition from another author can bug me at the moment. Instead, I found it completely endearing. It just set the tone so well for Dhamsawaat (where most of the action takes place) and an Arabian fantasy.
If you know Dungeons and Dragons at all, the main character is essentially a "cleric." Every time he casts a spell, he says a little prayer to release the power. I love this! "God is the Oasis in the Desert of the Soul!" "God is the Mercy That Kills Cruelty!" "God is the Hope of the Hopeless!" Much like making "God's peace" the main greeting, instead of, "Good morning," this tells us a lot about not only Adoulla, but also the society he comes from. I was beset upon by a mad desire to immediately go roll up an Arabian cleric.
Of course, I liked the werelioness (yes, I typed that right) bad ass love interest, and the dervish, Raseed bas Raseed (Raseed, only Raseed). They both have a ton of potential story, and I really want to see more of them.
The story is relatively short, for fantasy. That should make it a quick read, but for me, it went a little slow. Why? There are some action scenes, of course. This is a sword and sorcery after all, but it is important to note that, like I said above, the main character is in his 60s. A few of the other characters are nearing retirement age as well. That fact demands the story to move slower. They don't bounce back from a near death situation and fight the next day, like we've just about come to expect from the fantasy genre. So what happens after a battle scene?
They go run errands.
At first, I was miffed. I said, What?! Slowing down in the middle of MY story?! I mind! The dude minds, man! This aggressions will not stand, man!
Once I was done quoting The Big Lebowski inside my own head, I settled down to enjoy the story. And it was very enjoyable. But know going into it that it simply does not have the pace a lot of fantasy does. Instead we explore the capital city Dhamsawaat as seen through the eyes of our intrepid adventurers. We drink tea quietly as people bustle by. We complain about politics and shake our fists ineffectually at the palace. We watch wide eyed as the Falcon Prince pulls an amazing stunt in plain view of the city guard.
Honestly, I can't wait to see where the story goes. The setting and the characters all have a TON of potential. I hope the next one holds up to the expectations its garnered!