The Desert of Souls (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Desert of Souls (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  465 ratings  ·  129 reviews
The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut

In 8th century Baghdad, the scholar Dabir realizes that a jeweled tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. But when the tablet is stolen by a cunning Greek spy and a...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published February 4th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,836)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Very enjoyable; had a hard time putting it down, even for dinner. It's told from the viewpoint of the faithful warrior, which is an interesting take in fantasy--lots of bards, scholars and loveable scoundrels narrating, but not many warriors. It's an interesting viewpoint, because often his interpretations and solutions are very straightforward and honest. He tends to think strategically only when it comes to protecting his young master or in a fight. He pairs with a scholar, Dabir, and they end...more
Ranting Dragon

It is 8th century Baghdad and, before he is killed, a stranger pleads with the Vizier to protect a strange and mysterious tablet. Dabir, the Vizier’s scholar, discovers that the tablet may lead to the lost city of Ubar, whose hidden gates house treasures beyond imagination. However, when the tablet is stolen by an evil Magi, it is up to Dabir and his loyal friend, Captain Asim of the Vizier’s household guard, to retrieve the tablet before it can be used to...more
David Hayden
The Desert of Souls is one part historical, one part fantasy, and two parts action adventure. The main characters, Asim and Dabir, are reminiscent of Fafrhd and Grey Mouser or Sherlock and Watson without being copies of either pair. They are distinctive and well-rounded. The Desert of Souls is, to some degree, an adventurous buddy tale in 8th Century Baghdad. With sorcery. What's not to like about that?

Howard Andrew Jones made good use of pulp storytelling techniques rarely seen today, employing...more
Emma Sea
Enjoyable, well constructed, with great characterizations. The only reason it's not getting a higher rating from me is that it's no to my particular taste as much as I hoped. 2.5 stars rounded up.
Sword and sorcery meets Arabian Nights in this book. A vizier's son Jafar grieves death of his favorite parrot, so the Captain of his guard Asim (the tale is told from his POV) suggests Jafar goes outside of his father's palace into the city like a common person; in my opinion to do so is to invite trouble which is proven in numerous books. Anyway, Jafar does so accompanied by Asim and a renowned scholar Dabir.

After aimless wandering around the local bazaar, the trio stumbled upon an adobe of a...more
Jessica Strider
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,...more
Set aside in some disgruntlement at page 123 (of 305) upon exhibiting irritating generic sexism in narration. But that was just the final straw. I had already been regarding it with a general paucity of enthusiasm due to its lack of immediacy and emotional involvement; our heroes (men, both of them) are the staff of an important man (specifics of importance never established) which is why they get involved in the business of the plot. Call me old-fashioned, but "because my boss told me to" isn't...more
Not just a good sword-and-sorcery novel, but a good novel. Its skeleton is of a relatively straightforward fantasy adventure (retrieve the foozle and avert disaster) but Jones invests heavily in characterization--particularly into Asim's narration--and in a palpably authentic yet never overwhelming adherance to the culture of the medieval Middle-East. One never forgets that Asim is a man of his place and time (and it is refreshing to see a soldier who is also a simply moral person and an effecti...more
Julie Davis
The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut novel from new talent 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 o
In 8th Century Baghdad the Captain of the Jaffar’s Royal Guard, Asim and the scholar Dabir are dispatched to uncover the mystery of a rune inscribed relic. The Desert of Souls by Black Gate editor Howard Andrew Jones is a fresh look at the sword and sorcery genre in a Arabic setting full of vibrant characters, dastardly villains, and strange landscapes. As Minsc said best: “Adventure, excitement, and steel on steel.” This is also Jones’ first novel and is perhaps one of the best debuts, likely t...more
I couldn't help liking this one a lot. Somehow Jones took a character who isn't necessarily the brightest, and made him a great storyteller, and for that I give him kudos. Asim is the captain of the vizier's guard, and he sets out with a scholar to recover mysterious magical artifacts. It's a good one-two combo of intelligence and brawn, but not to caricature levels; both men are genuinely good at what they do, respect the other for his abilities, and forge a moving bond of partnership and trust...more
Howard Jones hasn't done anything new with an old legend, but he has managed to make it one heck of a read. You've got all the familiar trappings of the Arabian Nights here; an evil sorcerer, a stalwart soldier, a brilliant scholar, the darkened streets of 8th century Baghdad, dazzling swordplay, and an ancient city lost deep in the desert. But what makes it intriguing and stand out is the quality of Howard's writing. This is why the book manages to stand out. I for one am glad to see the recent...more
This book was a fun sword-and-sorcery adventure yarn set in 8th Century Baghdad. Think of the Prince of Persia movie, but more historically accurate and better written. I get the sense that could be more stories set with the two main characters and it will be fun to read them if they are ever written.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S.E. Lindberg
”I have seldom met a man who so feared taking up a pen.” – So speaks a fortune teller to the hero Asim in “The Desert of Souls”

H.A. Jones is a Writer and Swordsman: If Howard A. Jones had any fear of taking up a pen to write, I am glad he overcame it. He has long held a passion for action fiction and throughout his career has re-introduced readers to Harold Lamb, moderated Sword and Sorcery websites, and edited the Dark Fantasy magazine Blackgate. With Desert of Souls he demonstrates his abilit...more
3.5 Stars really.

Reading this as a writer, I can not help but admire the research and skill that went into it. The voice of the narrator is straight out of the 1001 Arabian Nights, while still holding true to the historical period in which is is set (8th Century Baghdad and surrounds.) The Author is a master of that style of storytelling that involves 'out of the frying pan and into the fire.' Each, intelligent plan and decision just gets them into more and deeper trouble. This works brilliantly...more
This is a pretty entertaining quest story with a group of people with various personalities and skills pursuing an evil, MacGuffin-bearing sorcerer. I was excited when I came across this book, because I'd been thinking for a while that it would be cool to read fantasy set in the Arab world, as opposed to the usual European or pseudo-European setting (not that I don't also enjoy that). I thought the book did a good job incorporating the sorts of things the reader expects to see in an Arabian Nigh...more
This is a surprisingly great book. The plot is carefully constructed, the setting appropriately inspiring, and the characters are well-constructed and imminently likable. Two things stood out above and beyond this, however.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the dialogue. With much respect to its preceding sword-and-sorcery forebears, the dialogue always builds characterization. It's highly believable and witty without sounding like it was written to impress.

Equally note-worthy is...more
I really liked this story. The fantasy genre has tons of elves, dragons and trolls, but not too many djinn or desert landscapes.

Desert of Souls is told by the Captain of the Guard for Jaffar of Baghdad, Asim. Joining him on his journey is the scholar Dabir. The two men (and their companions) go on a journey to recover stolen artifacts that can open a doorway to a monster that collects souls. The action is fast paced and the story is interesting. There is a smaller story arc concerning a romance...more
Vincent Darlage
Fantastic book! I really liked it. I loved the snake in the Desert of Souls, and I really liked the inclusion of the cat-headed staff. That made a nice connection to REH.

The characters were interesting, and the plot twists were creative. I liked that the things that started the quest were door pulls. I thought that was original.
Details at my blog

One of the best examples of characterization I've read in years. You can tell the author knows his characters and their relationships really, really well. The plot was awesome, too. Now I'll have to go find those short stories...
Terry Southard
Thoroughly enjoyable fantasy romp through the 8th century Middle East. Sword and sorcery abound. Charming characters. I especially liked the ending of the story, which made the book good to the last page, so to speak. I have the 2nd book in hand and intend to start it right away.
Excellent first novel from a very talented writer. It's a pleasure reading a historical fantasy that takes place in another culture.
A.E. Marling
I approve of jeweled cities buried in the sand, undead monkeys, and wurms scaled with colorful feathers. That is all.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Desert of Souls was recommended by Martha Wells, which for me is some damn high praise. I bumped it up to the top of my to-read list, and I'm glad I did. Of course, since Ms. Wells recommended it, I was expecting something as knock-your-socks-off awesome as her work. While Desert is awesome, it didn't quite knock my socks off--but that's a little like complaining that you got nine million dollars when you wanted a hundred: you still got something fantastic.

Like Ms. Wells, Jones does a wonder...more
Should get 4.5 stars. All I want in a fantasy was in this book- intrigue, sorcery, legends, quests, and adventures. However, there were two aspects that set this story apart from most fantasies I have read- it was set in 8th century Baghdad and it was told in the first person from a lovable, though not very bright, character. Asim's bravery and loyalty makes up for him not being the sharpest tool in the shed and he tells the story with charm and personality.
Dabir, a scholar, and Asim, the Capta...more
4.5 stars - a really fun book - purchased myself. If you are looking for a sword and sorcery type novel, full of magic and mayhem, something with a gorgeous setting, a lot of action, and a sense of humor then look no further than "The Desert of Souls." Asim and Dabir are wonderful protagonists who, while sharing odd moments of insight and humor, are not quite sure of each other until the end. I was most impressed with the vivid descriptions of 8th century Baghdad and thought this was really wher...more
Review brought to you by OBS staff member Annabell Cadiz


In the eighth-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 my 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 thro...more
Jesse Whitehead
Some stories can seem refreshing just by taking a familiar idea and showing it to us in a new way.

Howard Andrew Jones has taken the Sword and Sorcery adventures of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber and dropped them into the middle of eight century Middle East.

What comes out is a cross between a Sherlock Holmes mystery and the Prince of Persia.

Asim is the captain of the guard for Jaffar — friend and confidant of the Caliph. When two priceless door pulls are stolen from Jaffar Asim is sent along w...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 61 62 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Searching for Sup...: OFFICIAL DESERT OF SOULS DISCUSSION (SPOILERS) 23 14 Mar 13, 2014 08:12AM  
Sword & Sorce...: Desert of Souls E-Book Exclusive 1 12 Dec 23, 2012 11:12AM  
  • Secrets of the Sands (Children of the Desert, #1)
  • Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1)
  • The Winds of Khalakovo (Lays of Anuskaya, #1)
  • Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1)
  • The Thousand Names (The Shadow Campaigns, #1)
  • The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil, #1)
  • Blackdog
  • Darkness Weaves
  • The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque, #1)
  • Wolfsangel
  • Imaro
  • Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, #1)
  • Hammer of Witches
  • A Guile of Dragons (A Tournament of Shadows, #1)
  • Wheel of the Infinite
  • Drakenfeld (Lucan Drakenfeld, #1)
  • The Conqueror's Shadow
  • The Scroll of Years (Gaunt and Bone, #1)
The Bones of the Old Ones (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #2) Plague of Shadows The Waters of Eternity (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand, #1.5) Stalking the Beast Pathfinder Tales: The Walkers from the Crypt

Share This Book