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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lyrical tale of heroism and adventure!, 20 May 2011
By 
S. J. Newton "Sarah" (Normandy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desert of Souls (Hardcover)
'Desert of Souls' is a beautiful book - a tale of romance, action, and adventure. Imagine Fritz Leiber meets Arthur Conan Doyle in the world of the Arabian Nights! Two heroes - Asim and Dabir - begin a mission for their master Jaffar, one of the lords of a swashbuckling, larger-than-life 9th century Baghdad, which leads them deep into perilous intrigue and death-defying conflicts, and a quest far beyond their wildest imaginings.

In this his first novel author Howard Jones is already an accomplished writer, weaving a story with beautiful language and an apparently effortless mastery of the background of the Caliphate of Haroun el-Rashid. His prose is smooth, and sometimes deeply lyrical; his love of the desert, his evocation of ancient Basra and Baghdad, are a real pleasure to read. But it's his characters where he really shines: Jones has artfully managed to portray true heroes. Asim and Dabir, and their comrades, feel like real people, yet are also cast in an honest Golden Age mould - a perfect antidote to our cynical and divisive age. These aren't weak anti-heroes or tortured souls filled with self-doubt; they are people like you and I, thrust into extraordinary situations, and they rise to the occasion with a courage and humour which is as satisfying as it is stirring.

What struck me most about 'The Desert of Souls' was that Jones has succeeded in 'reclaiming' the world of the Arabian Nights for modern story-telling. Too often these days is the Middle East portrayed as a hostile, alien culture; in his novel Jones harks back to the love and respectful treatment of his source material shown by writers and adventurers such as Sir Richard Burton. It becomes a real place, a world we can understand, a people we can like and sympathize with as they face peril and ripping, action-packed adventure. It's a world of magic, mystery, and intrigue, but also one which touches on the themes of love, duty, loyalty and friendship which unite us all.

I thought of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser a lot during the Desert of Souls, but there's an optimism and light in Jones' characters and story-telling which is absent in Leiber's. His affection for his characters is clear, and we share his excitement that we are seeing two people at the very start of their path to greatness. I hope Howard Jones pens another novel quickly, and that we can follow Asim and Dabir's adventures as they grow!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Adventure Fantasy, 10 April 2011
By 
E. M. Harvey (Thailand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desert of Souls (Hardcover)
I used to really enjoy reading fantasy. I grew up reading Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and books like the Riftwar Saga. I enjoyed being immersed in a world that wasn't this one, and felt disappointed when the story ended. Unfortunately, fantasy took a turn for the worse. Endless doorstop sagas were churned out by the ton: huge books with flaccid prose, endlessly vacillating characters, pages of pointless description, and stories that never went anywhere or finished anything. If you read modern fantasy, you'll know what I mean.

The Desert of Souls is a welcome correction to this. It's the first modern fantasy book I've read for a long time that I've really enjoyed. I read it over three days, and when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. The prose is economical but lyrical, the characters engaging, the story fast-paced. There are heros, beautiful women, sorcerers, djinn, flashing swords, love, despair, horror . . . all the things that made the Sinbad movies so great.

If you like adventure fantasy, then buy this book. I really enjoyed it. The only disappointment was that this is Jones' first, and I can't go and buy another one from him yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Prince of Persia should have been..., 26 Mar 2011
By 
M. H. PAGE "Martin H Page" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desert of Souls (Hardcover)
Think Sharpe does Disney's "Aladdin" without Robin Williams, and with more black magic and bloodshed, set in an authentic hard-edged 8th-century Middle East.

This is a rollicking adventure yarn of clashing blades, ancient magic, forbidden love, and - perhaps most of all - friendship.

Read it if you liked any version of the Arabian Nights, enjoy Robert E Howard, Fritz Leiber, or Clark Ashton Smith, or loved the Harryhausen "Sinbad" films when you were a kid. But, brace yourself for a side order of grit served up with your magic and wonder...
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book, 7 Mar 2012
This review is from: Desert of Souls (Hardcover)
Desert of Souls was an ace book, and as I read a great deal of fantasy I'd say it definitely fits into the good category and possibly into the excellent category, really good sword & sorcery in an imaginative and well researched setting!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 8 April 2011
This review is from: Desert of Souls (Hardcover)
If you enjoy fantasies inspired by A Thousand and One nights then you'll love this book. There has been a lot of good fantasy fiction released this year but I enjoyed this one by far the most.

I wonder whether the author was having some fun at Disney's expense when the book opened with a character named "Jaffar" mourning the loss of his parrot "Pago".
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Desert of Souls
Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones (Hardcover - 3 Mar 2011)
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