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Pashazade: The First Arabesk [Hardcover]

Jon Courtenay Grimwood
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 May 2001
El Iskandria is the most famous and cosmopolitan city of Ottoman Egypt in the 21st century. Ashraf Bey travels there to escape an American prison but ends up the main suspect in a case of murder.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Earthlight; 1st Edition edition (21 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743202848
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. Apart from novels he writes for magazines and newspapers. He has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award twice and the BSFA Award for Best Novel seven times, winning twice. He lives in Winchester with his wife, novelist and editor-in-chief of RED magazine, Sam Baker.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Ashraf Bey is not who he seems--a rich Ottoman aristocrat to whom the Iskandryia of a rather different 21st century is more or less his oyster--nor is he simply what he thinks he is--a minor street criminal shipped off to North Africa when he fell foul of his employers. Accused yet again of murders he did not commit, he finds out on the run that he is better than he thinks he is--smarter and more capable and also someone whom people trust and love.

Set in a mildly different alternate world, Pashazade is a thriller with a solidly imagined mystery at its core; it is also a novel about a man finally and belatedly growing up. Ashraf's sense of responsibility for an orphaned girl and for the woman with whom he has refused an arranged marriage are part of what makes him admirable; he has learned the hard way not to treat people as disposable. The details of this alternate near future--an Arab world that remained Turkish after a 1914 war that never quite became important, and into which some slick cybertechnology and genetic gadgetry have slotted without changing anything fundamental--are effectively imagined, but never more important than the people. --Roz Kaveney


'... a deeply original work, carrying the seed of Grimwood's vision of an alternate future which I feel sure will blossom' -- THE ALIEN ONLINE

'... every bit as good as you would expect from a writer of Grimwood's standing... this really is essential reading' -- ENIGMA

'A future-shock blizzard' -- STEPHEN BAXTER

'Grimwood has successfully mingled fantasy with reality to make an unusual, believable and absorbing mystery' -- SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

'Pashazade is the author's finest yet' -- STARLOG --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Although this book will be filed under SF because of its alternative history background, it is actually a murder/mystery with its roots in the traditional film noir style.
The lead character Zee Zee/Raf is a mysterious, dangerous and reluctant hero. He is surrounded by powerful people with schemes of their own. There is the inevitable love interest an to cap it all a femme fatale.
Somehow despite the clichés, this is an entertaining book with plenty of charm and engaging (if not exactly deep) characters.
JCG, is also very clever with is background. Many authors would put the alternate history in the foreground and show off their clever concept, but JCG keeps it where it belongs dropping references in from time to time with a reasonable degree of subtlety and a great deal of restraint.
In case you are interested, the alternate history background is that the US didn't join in WWI and that Germany under the Kaiser + the Ottoman empire flourished over the rest if the century.
The novel is set in Alexandria, Egypt and opens (pretty much) with the Zee Zee arriving there from Seattle.
I enjoyed it and would happily recommend it it to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries and/or near future SF.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Originality? 15 Sep 2005
First of all, if anyone thinks setting a cyberpunk/noir in the Arab/Islamic world is a brand new idea, I would refer them to the late George Alex Effinger's '80s Marid Audran series (When Gravity Fails, A Fire in the Sun, and The Exile Kiss) and short story collection (Budayeen Nights). That series featured a down and out 22nd-century Arab gumshoe in grimy Cairo who is unexpectedly elevated into a powerful position and makes heavy use of brain implants in order to track down a few murderers, exact vengeance, and try and figure out just who his parents actually were. Hmmm... sounds an awful lot like this book, doesn't it?
Grimwood's story is a fairly off-the-rack "reluctant hero" tale about Ashraf, a small time hoodlum unexpectedly sprung from jail in the U.S. and brought to Alexandria/Iskandriya by an aunt he didn't know he had. Apparently he's the son of the Bey of Tunis, and therefore a very important young man with carte blanche and legal immunity to almost anything. However, it's clear that he's also got all kinds of genetic modifications, the source of which is left deliberately murky. He's also got some kind of invisible advisor fox (in D&D days, we would have called it a familiar), and a whole host of issues. Soon after his arrival in "Isk", his aunt is killed and the police seem to think he did it. So naturally, he must carry out his own investigation in order to clear his name -- with the help of a ponytailed ex-American Chief of Police. At the same time, Ashraf's past -- from lonely boarding school upbringing, to working for Seattle Chinese gangster Mu San -- is measured out in italicized flashbacks.
Actually, the entire first third of the book is rather confusingly arranged, with chapters in reverse chronological sequence and shifting points of view.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashraf Bey - an Ottoman Rebus! 4 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Meet Ashraf Bey, a future-crime hero in classic noir style. Like all Grimwood's heroes Raf has more to him than first meets the eye, but unlike some of the earlier characters, this is someone with the qualities to become one of the great detectives of the 21st century. But enough about Ashraf Bey, what about the book? JCG fans will recognise Pashazade as a real departure - more crime than sf, it is still set, like all his previous novels, in a near future with an alternative history.
But don't panic, because despite a start that's more thoughtful and thought-provoking than, say Lucifer's Dragon or reMix, Pashazade accelerates to a fast, furious and compelling conclusion, featuring all the usual JCG motifs - cutting edge technology, a fox in Raf's head and a soundtrack that practically echoes off the pages. Whether you're an established fan or a 'JCG virgin' a tenner says you'll be gagging for the next instalment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid mystery in alternate Middle East 10 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Never having succeeded in reading all the way through any of the so called Cyber-punk greats I am pleased to have finished this one. There are perhaps more mysteries at the end of this book than we started with. Hopefully the series doesnt let too many of the cats out of the bag in the next book. What is the true provenance of Ashraf Bey? Is the Fox a figment of his imagination, a cybernetic implant or one of the Djinn? Who will get Ashraf first - the establishment, their business cronies, the church, the American gangsters, the girl he doesnt want to marry or Ashraf himself? Off to get the next one now...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good start to the series 21 May 2001
By Lee
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read all of JCG's books since I discovered reMix. I found his view different and exciting with some cutting edge views on the technology of the future.
This is still the case, but he has moved away from the cyberpunk view that prevailed in neoaddix, reMix and Lucifer's Dragon. He still uses the same universe but has focused more on the characters and their interaction.
One thing that returns to this book is the mentor. Something that appears in JCG's books is the electronic mentor/advisor, I think specifically of the gun/monkey in redRobe. Here it takes the form of an illusive fox which resides within the main characters head.
It took a while to engage me but once going I found it more enjoyable than redRobe which, in my opinion, is a slight dip in quality over the previous books.
All in all, a good return to form, and as the first of a reported three I eagerly await the next in the trilogy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mix and Match Genres
If you think that murder mysteries need vicars or tortuous plots, where the last chapter reveals all then put the kettle and I'll finish before you come back. Read more
Published on 13 July 2008 by John
1.0 out of 5 stars Not even holiday reading
Thank heavens, someone else (letraix from Jo'burg) who doesn't rate this book. Even in a nice relaxed holiday mode, I found this book very dull, and hard to read. Read more
Published on 22 Nov 2003 by iatethepies
1.0 out of 5 stars Bland, long-winded and not very clever after all
Maybe I can't enjoy this "noire" genre, or maybe this is just long-winded, trashy and bland. It also shows an unbelievable lack of insight into the mechanics of "alternate... Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2003 by "letraix"
5.0 out of 5 stars mindblowing manga epic-esque masterpiece
The characters in this book are beautifully crafted and are totally believable, and the storytelling is complex but easy to undrstand. Read more
Published on 10 May 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely by the numbers...
I can't believe that so many people thought that this rather lazy Chandler/Casablanca pastiche was original. Read more
Published on 19 April 2002 by Mrs. Anne C. Kirtley
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty good techno thriller!
Full of just-over-the-cutting-edge tech this is essentially a pretty fine thriller. I did lose the plot in some places as the story started from at least three of the characters... Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, enticing and excellent
I picked up this book just before the end of my summer term and I needed to chill. This did it. Not only is this book about the murder, it looks at all sorts of aspects of the... Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2002 by Donald.J.Makin (
5.0 out of 5 stars cor this aint 'alf good mum
Published on 18 Sep 2001 by "coztheboss"
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart cars, dangerous women, cool threads and cooler weapons
Jon courtenay Grimwood is the man... for bleeding edge technology filtered through mystical ancient texts and fed through amphetamine pumped characters, no one else comes close... Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly engaging read
Most of the cyberpunk genre now seemingly consists of just formulaic dystopian futures and cardboard cut out characters who exist in the interstices between the criminal underworld... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2001 by
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