“Oh no,” I thought all those years ago when this book first came out, “not another disaster beyond our imagination!”Phrom a Phantom Phan’s Perspective
“Oh no,” I thought all those years ago when this book first came out, “not another disaster beyond our imagination!”
(If you’re a ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Phan like I am, you know what that means.)
Afraid another remake or spoof on the Phantom theme has taken our beloved Angel of Music completely out of context from Gaston Leroux’s original novel and has mashed the story up beyond all recognition.
Let’s face it, we Phans take our obsession seriously and cringe when the Phantom is portrayed as some grotesque murderer with no soul, or when the storyline be it a new fan fiction or a screenplay bears practically no resemblance to the original tale, or dishonours Gaston Leroux’s literary memory.
So, when I heard about this title parodying all things Phantom, I was one disgruntled Phan. Of course, I shouldn’t judge another author’s style, especially as I never read one of Terry Pratchett’s books, but well, since I also take my fantasy seriously, Lord-of-the-Rings Fan-Seriously, that was another reason I was a little reluctant to go near any of his titles. However, like all curious bookworms, I finally had to see how bad Pratchett mangled Phantom, we Phans still like to read all Phantom books and watch Phantom films after all.
Well, I must admit, this book is quite sarcastically entertaining, you can’t help get sucked up in the lives of Terry’s zany characters, but I digress...let me begin my critique by giving an outline of the plot set in the fantastic fictional realm of Discworld.
Agnes Nitt, a very sizable, talented girl from rural Lancre with a magical singing voice, (literally magical), desperately wants to recreate herself into a soulful gothic girl called Perdita X and leaves the country to try making her fortune in the great city of Ankh-Morpork. She has little success in the beginning, but when she sees a notice announcing there are auditions being held at the Ankh-Morpork opera house, well, she gives it a go...but there’s trouble afoot: a crazed Opera Ghost is roaming the place, causing murder, mischief and mayhem, and Agnes finds herself caught up in a drama almost as crazy as the operas produced on their stage.
Who comes to the rescue? Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, Lancre’s two most notorious, hilarious witches. One of their coven has married a king, so now their magical number three has been reduced to two. Nanny has the bright idea to initiate Agnes into their circle as she has magical potential, but is disappointed to hear Agnes has run off to be a singer. Then, the tea leaves tell a tale: the witches see Agnes is in danger, and since they have to go to Ankh-Morpork to settle an issue with a publisher about some royalties due them thanks to Nanny’s idea to publish a cook book, they decide to check in on Agnes, and they too are sucked into the mayhem.
As I said, this book was really entertaining, despite the fact it’s a complete spoof on the Phantom theme. The good thing is, it doesn’t make fun of the Phantom, but rather the whole culture surrounding opera, musical theatre, and of course, Phandom’s fascination with Phantom. Hey, while I take Phantom of the Opera seriously, I can also see the funny side of a Phan’s obsession, which Pratchett obviously had some fun poking fun at.
Here’s a quote just to give you an idea:
“The letter inside was on a sheet of the Opera House’s own notepaper. In neat, copperplate writing, it said:
Ahahahahaha! Ahahahaha! Aahahaha! BEWARE!!!!!
Yrs Sincerely The Opera Ghost
´What sort of person,´ said Salzella patiently, ´sits down and writes a maniacal laugh? And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head. Opera can do that to a man.”
If you liked that, here’s another quote for you:
“A catastrophic curve, Mr Bucket, is what opera runs along. Opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong, Mr Bucket. It works because of hatred and love and nerves. All the time. This isn’t cheese. This is opera. If you wanted a quiet retirement, Mr Bucket, you shouldn’t have bought the Opera House. You should have done something peaceful, like alligator dentistry.”
The book reminds me of how Jane Austen popped the balloon on the Gothic novel culture of her time with her witty satire “Northanger Abbey”, deflating people’s romantic notions of secret passageways and haunted houses with a good dose of real life. Terry gives us a playful murder mystery romp through the Ankh-Morpork opera house, with some interesting turns and quite a few laughs along the way. I wish I could say more, but I might spoil the plot. He also interjects truthful observations about life and people all coated with bitter-sweet sarcasm.
The good thing is, you can jump right in and understand the story and can easily feel like you know the characters without having read any of the other books in the Discworld series.
About the adult-material rating I usually give in my reviews: there’s nothing overtly graphic in this book, but there are the unavoidable double entendres since it appears authors aren’t deemed ‘successful’ unless they make some attempt at bawdy humour, and this book was written as a comedy, sooo.... At least, this book is pretty tame when compared with what is considered ‘racy’ nowadays.
So Terry, I give you four stars, you made me smile and see the funny side of Phandom. I’d give you the full five if it wasn’t for the fact I’m still a ‘serious minded’ Phan.
(I also hear Terry published on a parody on a Faustian theme in another of his Discworld books, hmm, another one of my serious obsessions, I might have to check that out too...)
If you’re looking for an entertaining read, ‘Maskerade’ certainly is one book to consider. ...more
Charles W. Eliot, an American academic who became Harvard's president in 1869, was instrumental in raising the once provincial college to the most preCharles W. Eliot, an American academic who became Harvard's president in 1869, was instrumental in raising the once provincial college to the most prestigious university of the United States. Eliot not only served the longest term as president in the university's history, but also edited a collection of Classic literature that has become a classic in its own right and continues to be reprinted numerous times since the copyright dating from the early 1900s. Eliot announces in the Editor's Introduction (Volume 50):
“My purpose in selecting The Harvard Classics was to provide the literary materials from which a careful and persistent reader might gain a fair view of the progress of man observing, recording inventing, and imagining from the earliest historical times to the close of the nineteenth century. Within the limits of fifty volumes, containing 22,000 pages, I was to provide the means of obtaining such a knowledge of ancient and modern literature as seems essential to the twentieth-century idea of a cultivated man.”
Although we have now entered twenty-first century, this remarkable series remains a valuable resource for the persistent reader who desires to become familiar with the great classics of the world. Naturally, There were many works that Eliot could not include, but he succeeded in publishing the most essential fictional, non-fictional, dramatic, poetic, philosophical, historical and religious texts to impart a thorough grounding in the classics of the liberal arts, both ancient and modern, conservative and controversial.
Alas, after several years ploughing away I still have to finish four or five volumes, but since I'm near the end, I thought it was time I write a review: as a collection, it is worth the full five stars. As far as I am aware, reprints of the Harvard Classics are basically facsimiles of the original 1900s printings. Each section in every volume features a small introduction / biography of the authors and the documents featured. Some volumes also contain explanatory footnotes with certain texts, but unfortunately, not for all of them. While the Harvard Classics contains excellent documents / reprints, etc., if you wish for a more in-depth academic explanation of a work with updated translations, reading lists, etc., I would recommend looking up individual titles in the Oxford's World Classics Series, nevertheless, to have all these major texts compiled in one collection together with a practical index in Volume 50, a Bonus Volume of Lectures, plus a separate helpful “15 Minutes a Day” Reading Guide that might interest younger readers and help them explore these works, the Harvard Classics Five-Foot Shelf of Books is still worth the five stars. If you are the reader who desires to build a well-stocked private library this is well worth the investment. It is beyond the scope of a single review to examine each and every work, so I shall provide a list each of the volumes and their texts to display the wealth of information this collection provides:
Volume 1 Benjamin Franklin: “His Autobiography” John Woolman: “The Journal of John Woolman” William Penn: “Some Fruits of Solitude, In Reflections and Maxims, Part I” and “More Fruits of Solitude, Being the Second Part of Reflections and Maxims.”
Volume 2 Plato: “The Apology”, “Phaedo”, “Crito” Epictetus: “The Golden Sayings of Epictetus” Marcus Aurelius: “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius”
Volume 3 Francis Bacon: “Essays or Counsels – Civil and Moral” (59 essays in all), “The New Atlantis” John Milton's Prose: “Areopagitica”, “Tractate on Education” Thomas Browne: “Religio Medici”
Volume 4 The Complete Poems in English, John Milton. Includes all his poems, also “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”.
Volume 5 Ralph Waldo Emerson -- Essays: “The American Scholar”, “An Address”, “Man the Reformer”, “Self-Reliance”, “Compensation”, “Friendship”, “Heroism”, “The Over-Soul”, “Circles”, “The Poet”, “Character”, “Manners”, “Gifts”, “Nature”, “Politics”, “New England Reformers”, “Worship”, “Beauty”. Also includes Emerson's “English Traits”.
Volume 6 Poems and Songs, Robert Burns (Includes Poems with Scottish words / spellings.)
Volume 7 “The Confessions” of St. Augustine and “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A. Kempis
Volume 8 Nine Greek Dramas: “The House of Atreus” Trilogy by Aeschylus: “Agamemnon”, “The Libation-Bearers” and “The Furies”. “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus “Oedipus the King” by Sophocles “Antigone” by Sophocles “Hippolytus” by Euripides “The Bacchae” by Euripides “The Frogs” by Aristophanes
Volume 9 Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny Cicero: “On Friendship”, “On Old Age”, “Letters” Pliny: “Letters”
Volume 10 “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith
Volume 11 “Origin of Species”, by Charles Darwin
Volume 12 Plutarch's Lives; “Themistocles”, “Pericles”, “Aristides”, “Alcibiades”, “Coriolanus”, “Comparison of Alcibiades with Coriolanus”, “Demosthenes”, “Cicero”, “Comparision of Demosthense and Cicero”, “Caesar”, “(Mark) Antony”.
Volume 13 “The Aeneid”, by Virgil
Volume 14 “Don Quixote, Part I”, Miguel Cervantes
Volume 15 “Pilgrim's Progress”, by John Bunyan “The Lives of Donne and George Herbert”, by Izaak Walton
Volume 16 “The Thousand and One Nights”
Volume 17 Folk Lore and Fable, Aesop: (82 fables) Grimm: (41 fairy tales) Andersen: (20 fairy tales)
Volume 18 Modern English Drama “All for Love, or, The World Well Lost”, by John Dryden “The School for Scandal”, by Richard Brinsley Sheridan “She Stoops to Conquer”, by David Garrick “The Cenci”, by Percy Bysshe Shelley “A Blot on the 'Scutcheon”, by Robert Browning “Manfried”, by Lord Byron
Volume 19 “Faust Part I”, “Egmont”, "Hermann and Dorothea", by Goethe “Doctor Faustus”, by Christopher Marlowe
Volume 20 “The Divine Comedy” Dante
Volume 21 “I Promessi Sposi”, Manzoni
Volume 22 “The Odyssey”, by Homer
Volume 23 “Two Years Before the Mast”, Dana
Volume 24 Writings of Edmund Burke: “On Taste”, “On the Sublime and the Beautiful”, “Reflections of the French Revolution”, “A Letter to a Noble Lord”
Volume 25 J.S. Mill: “Autobiography of John Stuart Mill”, “On Liberty” Thomas Carlyle: “Characteristics”, “Inaugural Address at Edinburgh”, “Sir Walter Scott”
Volume 26 Continental Drama “Life is a Dream”, Pedro Calderon de la Barca “Polyeucte”, Pierre Corneille “Phaedra”, Jean Baptiste Racine “Tartuffe, or the Hypocrite”, Jean Baptiste Molière “Minna von Barnhelm, or The Soldier's Fortune”, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “William Tell”, Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller
Volume 27 English Essays “The Defence of Poesy”, Sir Philip Sidney “On Shakespeare”, “On Bacon”, Ben Johnson “Of Agriculture” Abraham Cowley “The Vision of Mirza”, “Westminster Abbey”, Joseph Addison “The Spectator Club”, Sir Richard Steele “Hints Towards an Essay on Conversation”, “A Treatise on Good Manners and Breeding”, “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”, “On the Death of Esther Johnson (Stella)”, Jonathan Swift “The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters”, “The Education of Women”, Daniel Defoe “Life of Addison, 1672-1719”, Samuel Johnson “On the Standard of Taste”, David Hume “Fallacies of Anti-Reformers”, Sydney Smith “On Poesy or Art”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen”, William Hazlitt “Deaths of Little Children”, “On the Realities of Imagination”, Leigh Hunt “On the Tragedies of Shakespeare”, Charles Lamb “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow”, Thomas de Quincey “A Defence of Poetry”, Percy Bysshe Shelley “Machiavelli”, Thomas Babington Macaulay
Volume 28 Essays, English and American “The Idea of a University”, John Henry Newman “The Study of Poetry”, Matthew Arnold “Sesame and Lilies: Lecture I. Sesame, of King's Treasuries. Lecture II. Lilies, Of Queen's Gardens”, John Ruskin “John Milton”, Walter Bagehot “Science and Culture”, Thomas Henry Huxley “Truth of Intercourse”, “Samuel Pepys”, Robert Louis Stevenson “On the Elevation of the Labouring Classes”, William Ellery Channing “The Poetic Principle”, Edgar Allan Poe “Walking”, Henry David Thoreau “Abraham Lincoln”, “Democracy”, James Russell Lowell
Volume 29 “Voyage of the Beagle”, Darwin
Volume 30 Scientific Papers; Physics,Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology “The Forces of Matter”, The Chemical History of a Candle”, Michael Faraday “On the Conversation of Force”, “Ice and Glaciers”, Hermann von Helmholtz “The Wave Theory of Light”, “The Tides”, Sir William Thomson “The Extent of the Universe”, Simon Newcomb “Geographical Evolution”, Sir Archibald Geike
Volume 31 “Autobiography”, by Benvenuto Cellini
Volume 32 “That We Should Not Judge of Our Happiness Until After Our Death”, “That to Philosophise is to Learne How to Die”, “Of the Institution and Education of Children”, “Of Friendship”, “Of Bookes”, Montaigne “Montaigne”, “What is a Classic?”, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve “The Poetry of the Celtic Races”, Ernst Renan “The Education of the Human Race”, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man”, Schiller “Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals”, “Transition from Popular Moral Philosophy to the Metaphysic”, Immanuel Kant “Byron and Goethe”, Giuseppe Mazzini
Volume 33 Voyages and Travels “An Account of Egypt”, Herodotus “Germany”, Tacitus “Sir Francis Drake Revived”, Sir Francis Drake “Sir Francis Drake's Famous Voyage Around the World”, Francis Pretty “Drake's Great Armada”, Cpt. Walter Bigges “Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland”, Edward Haies “The Discovery of Guiana”, Sir Walter Raleigh
Volume 34 “Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking the Truth in the Sciences,” René Descartes, “Letters on the English”, Voltaire “A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind”, J.J. Rousseau “Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan”, Thomas Hobbes
Volume 35 “The Campaign of Crecy”, “The Battle of Poitiers”, “Wat Tyler's Rebellion”, “The Battle of Otterburn”, from the Chronicles of Froissart “The Holy Grail”, from the Caxton Edition of “The Morte d'Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory “A Description of Elizabethan England Written by William Harrison for Holinshed's Chronicles”, Holinshed
Volume 36 “The Prince”, Machiavelli “The Life of Sir Thomas More”, William Roper “Utopia”, Sir Thomas More “Ninety-five Theses”, “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate”, “Concerning Christian Liberty”, Martin Luther
Volume 37 “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, John Locke “Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists”, George Berkeley, “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, David Hume
Volume 38 “The Oath of Hippocrates”, “The Law of Hippocrates”, Hippocrate “Journeys in Diverse Places”, Ambroise Paré “On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals”, “William Harvey”, William Harvey “The Three Original Publications on Vaccination Against Smallpox”, Edward Jenner “The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever”, O.W. Holmes “On the Antiseptic Principle of the Practise of Surgery”, Lord Lister “The Physiological Theory of Fermentation”, “The Germ Theory and its Application to Medicine and Surgery”, “On the Extension of the the Germ Theory to the Etiology of Certain Common Diseases”, Louis Pasteur “Prejudices which have Retard the Progress of Geology”, “Uniformity in the Series of Past Changes in the Animate and Inanimate World”, Sir Charles Lyell
Volume 39 Famous Prefaces “Title, Prologue and Epilogues to the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy”, “Epilogue to Dictes and Saying of the Philosophers”, Prologue to Golden Legend”, “Prologue to Caton”, “Epilogue to Aesop”, “Proem to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales”, “Prologue to Malory's King Arthur”, “Prologue to Virgil's Eneydos”, William Caxton “Dedication to the Institutes of the Christian Religion”, John Calvin “Dedication of the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies”, Nicolaus Copernicus “Preface to the History of the Reformation in Scotland”, John Knox “Prefatory Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh on the Faerie Queen”, Edmund Spenser “Preface to the History of the World”, Sir Walter Raleigh “Proemium, Epistle, Dedicatory, Preface, and Plan of the Insturatio Magna, Etc.”, “Preface to the Novum Organum”, Francis Bacon “Preface to the First Folio Edition of Shakespeare's Plays”, Heminge and Condell “Preface to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica”, Sir Isaac Newton “Preface to Fables, Ancient and Modern”, John Dryden “Preface to Joseph Andrews”, Henry Fielding “Preface to the English Dictionary”, “Preface to Shakespeare”, Samuel Johnson “Introduction to the Propylaen”, J.W. von Goethe “Prefaces to Various Volumes of Poems”, “Appendix to Lyrical Ballads”, “Essay Supplementary to Preface”, William Wordsworth “Preface to Cromwell”, Victor Hugo “Preface to Leaves of Grass”, Walt Whitman “Introduction to the History of English Literature”, H.A. Taine
Volume 40 Selections of English Poetry 1 Chaucer to Gray
Volume 41 English Poetry 2 Collins to Fitzgerald
Volume 42 English Poetry 3 Tennyson to Whitman
Volume 43 American Historical Documents “The Voyages to Vinland (c. 1000)” “The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Saint Angel Announcing His Discovery (1493)” “Amerigo Vespucci's Account of His First Voyage (1497)” “John Cabot's Discovery of North America (1497)” “First Charter of Virginia (1606)” “The Mayflower Compact (1620)” “The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639)” “The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641)” “Arbitrary Government Described and the Government of the Massachusetts Vindicated from that Apersion, by John Winthrop (1644)” “The Instrument of Government (1653)” “A Healing Question, by Sir Henry Vane (1656)” “John Eliot's Brief Narrative (1670)” “Declaration of Rights (1756)” “The Declaration of Independence (1776)” “Articles of Confederation (1777)” “Articles of Capitulation, Yorktown (1781)” “Treaty with Great Britain (1783)” “Constitution of the United States (1787)” “The Federalist, Nos. 1 and 2” (1787)” “Opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, in the Case of McCulloch vs. The State of Maryland (1819)” “Washington's First Inaugural Address (1789)” “Treaty with the Six Nations (1794)” “Washington's Farewell Address (1796)” “Treaty with France, Louisiana Purchase (1803)” “Treaty with Great Britain, End of War of 1812 (1814)” “Arrangement as to the Naval Force to be Respectively Maintained on the American Lakes (1817)” “Treaty with Spain, Acquisition of Florida (1842)” “The Monroe Doctrine (1823)” “Webster-Ashburn Treaty with Great Britain (1842)” “Treaty with Mexico (1848)” “Fugitive Slave Act (1850)” “Lincoln's First Inaugural Address (1861)” “Emancipation Proclamation (1863)” “Haskell's Account of the Battle of Gettysburg” “Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863)” “Proclamation of Amnesty (1863)” “Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby (1864)” “Terms of Lee's Surrender at Appomattox (1865)” “Lee's Farewell to his Army (1865)” “Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (1865)” “Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at and End (1866)” “Treaty with Russia, Alaska Purchase (1867)” “Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands (1898)” “Recognition of the Independence of Cub (1898)” “Treaty with Spain, Cession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines (1898)” “Convention between the United States and the Republic of Panama, (1904)”
Volume 44 Sacred Writings 1 Confucian; The Sayings of Confucius Hebrew: The Book of Job, The Book of Psalms, Ecclesiastes; or The Preacher Christian: Luke's Gospel, The Acts of the Apostles
Volume 45 Sacred Writings 2 Christian: First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Hymns of the Christian Church Buddist: Buddist writings Hindu: The Bhagavad-Gita, or Song Celestial Mohammedan: Chapters from the Koran
Volume 46 Elizabethan Drama 1 “Edward the Second”, Christopher Marlowe “Hamlet”, “King Lear”, “Macbeth”, “The Tempest”, Shakespeare
Volume 47 Elizabethan Drama 2 “The Shoemaker's Holiday”, Thomas Dekker “The Alchemist”, Ben Johnson “Philaster”, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher “The Duchess of Malfi”, John Webster “A New Way to Pay Old Debts”, Philip Massinger
Volume 49 Epic and Saga “Beowolf” “The Song of Roland” “The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel” “The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs” “Songs from the Elder Edda”
Volume 50 Editor's Introduction Reader's Guides: Class I, listed under The history of Civilization, Religion and Philosopher, Education, Science, Politics, Voyages and Travels, Criticism of Literature and Fine Arts Class II, listed under Drama, Biography and Letters, Essays, Narrative Poetry and Prose Fiction Index to the First lines of Poems, Songs and Choruses, Hymns and Psalms, (Useful if you can only remember an opening line and want to know the rest of the work and the author). General Alphabetical Index Chronological Index, gives historical dates, publication of works, and birth / death of authors
Bonus Volume: Lectures Features lectures on History, Poetry, Natural Science, Philosophy, Biography, Prose Fiction, Criticism and the Essay, Education, Political Science, Drama, Voyages and Travel, and Religion by the Harvard Professors teaching at the time the Harvard Classics first went into print.
Mini-Volume Fifteen Minutes a Day Reading Guide ...more
“Paradise is under the shadow of swords.” – Mohammed
Welcome to Mir'aj, a new world created by Val Gunn that rivals the classic settings of the 1001 Ni“Paradise is under the shadow of swords.” – Mohammed
Welcome to Mir'aj, a new world created by Val Gunn that rivals the classic settings of the 1001 Nights and the stories of Sindbad the Sailor, a paradise of kingdoms with Arabian styled palaces, courtyards with jasmine scented gardens, shrines with minarets, verdant vineyards, bubbling fountains, labyrinthine cities made wealthy by sea commerce and trade caravans that brave the blistering sands of the great desert blasted by the heat of twin suns and nights lit by the light of three moons.
It is a world they would kill for.
Hiril Altair, a soldier trained by the Four Banners, a warrior league with the mission to rid the land of demonic creatures and brigands, has been given a special mission: to deliver a set of secret manuscripts, the Books of Promise. In these manuscripts lies the power to destroy the world as the inhabitants of Mir'aj know it, and they must be taken to a safe place away from those who would use their secrets to rule the world. He never makes it, Altaȉr is slain at the door of the embassy that would have given him sanctuary, cut down by the most feared assassin of the land, Ciris Sarn—the Kingslayer.
Sarn, however, has a story of his own, and refuses to hand over the manuscripts to the power-hungry master who has him bound in a djinn-curse. In an act of defiance, he complies with his order to kill to the letter, but leaves the manuscripts where he found them, let his master come for them if he wants. By chance, the Books come into the possession of Marin, Hiril Altair's widow, a lady-warrior of the Four Banners. She makes it her mission to discover the truth about the manuscripts, who wants them and why, but most of all, to hunt down her husband's assassin, her thoughts bent on revenge.
That's not all, the master of Sarn has other schemes in operation and has enmeshed the Sultanate of Qatana in a web of conspiracies and black designs to achieve his ends to acquire ultimate power. Only one man is a threat to him, Pavanan Munif, leader of the Jassaj warrior spies in service to the Sultan of Qatana, and Munif must find some way to stop his enemy before his evil plans come into effect.
The tale weaves between these three characters, Sarn, Marin and Munif. Sarn desperately trying to break free from the curse that binds him to the Sultan and his cronies, Marin hunting for Sarn, and Munif's adventures as he tries to unravel the conspiracies set into motion by his enemy. It is a fast-paced novel, and while the story gets a little confusing with the different threads running through the narration, the amount of characters that are introduced and the few flashbacks, if you stick with it, you will find it a fascinating tale of deception, murder, mayhem, and the thirst for power. It is a refreshing change for anyone who needs a break from fantasy based on northern myths of elves, dragons and unicorns as this is set in an Arabic wonderland with efrits, demonic kayals, evil úathirs and strange alchemical spells.
Of course, as the author states from the beginning: this is not Lord of the Rings. It is not a book for the kiddies with it's graphic murders, a few expletive words, and frank mentions of the seedy side of life and human weakness. This is meant to be a gritty novel, and indeed, it reads like a chronicle of the Sultan's court in ancient Persia, lending it a sense of authenticity as if we were reading about long-lost Middle-eastern kingdoms here on earth as Emirs and Kings struggle of political dominance.
As you would expect of fantasy novels, the book comes with a map of Mir'aj, it is truly well done, and the introduction of magic words in Arabic script makes me wish I could read and understand Arabic!
This is the first of the Mir'aj chronicles, and it is obvious we have not heard the last of Sarn, Munif, Marin, or the Books of Promise—I can't wait....more