Julie Davis's Reviews > The Desert of Souls

The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
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Nov 17, 14

bookshelves: desert-island-books
Read from July 23 to 24, 2011

Picked this up for rereading after coming off of a jag of reading weird fiction a la H.P. Lovecraft.

I'd forgotten just how much I love this book and this author's writing style and the characters he created. This is a desert island book just for the sheer fun and adventure of it.

Original review below.
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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 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 through the ancient Middle East.
This was an easy and exciting read and I finished it quickly, partially because I was flipping the pages so fast.

Asim and Dabir somewhat remind me of Number Ten Ox and Master Li from Barry Hughart's stories of a China that never was. Asim is not as dim as Number Ten Ox and Dabir is not as wise (or old) as Master Li, but it is a classic pairing of brawn and brains, which can lead to misunderstandings that are sometimes comic but which can endanger everything if both do not learn to trust one another. By the end of the book we are fond of both characters, as, indeed, they are of each other.

The adventure itself is multi-faceted and highly inventive, while still remaining true to form in what feels like a factually based universe. In fact, Jones has taken great care to keep the historical facts true to form with Jaffar and the caliph being based on the actual historical people. In this, he must have been highly influenced by the stories of Harold Lamb, several volumes of which he collected into anthologies before writing his own novel.

Room was clearly left for more adventures and I hope that Jones is at work on the next. I can't wait to see what Asim and Dabir must tangle with next.
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Reading Progress

11/12/2014 marked as: currently-reading
11/17/2014 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Jesse would be all over an audio version.


Julie Davis Oh, I know ... I thought about that as I was finishing up. I need to do the real review, but it is a really glorious old-style adventure.


message 3: by Howard (new)

Howard Jones Thanks for all of the kind words! So delighted you enjoyed the book. It sounds like you took from it exactly what I hoped readers would find, which made my day.


message 4: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome *RELIKE*


Julie Davis Thank you! I see that a new book is due out very soon!


Julie Davis Howard wrote: "Thanks for all of the kind words! So delighted you enjoyed the book. It sounds like you took from it exactly what I hoped readers would find, which made my day."

I then had to go get the first of the Harold Lamb anthologies you edited with the Khlit stories. :-)

Looking forward to reading your newest which will be out soon ... in September, I think?


message 7: by Howard (new)

Howard Jones Alas, not until December 11. I had an accident and messed up my knee pretty badly... right when I was in final revision. The book slipped its production schedule as a result.

Hey, what did you think of the Cossack stories? I thought by the third one they were really clicking along, and that most of the rest of them in that first volume were top notch. (But then I spent about a decade getting those into print, so OF COURSE I think highly of them.)


Julie Davis I'm enjoying them and have just gotten to the third story ... those young fools casting off their most experienced man! I was also tempted by your "Swords of ..." series but thought I'd go with the real classics first. :-)

I'm interspersing short stories inbetween books so the going is slower than if I sat down to polish them off. Although since Bleak House is so long, I'm pausing for a bit between sections as they were published in the paper when Dickens was putting them out, to read a story or two.


message 9: by Howard (new)

Howard Jones You know, I was just talking with my wife about visiting some Dickens. I had a horrible time with Tale of Two Cities in high school and have never tried again. I've since decided that was my problem and not his and was casting about trying to decide which Dickens novel to start with.

That third Khlit story is stronger than the first two, but then the next two are even stronger. And I absolutely love everything between (and including) the stories "The Mighty Manslayer" and "Star of Evil Omen."

I think breaking up story collections like that to read other authors is a good idea. It keeps you from getting tired of an author's style. From that third story on they follow each other in pretty tight sequence as our hero journeys further and further east. More like a cyclical TV series than standalone adventures. It makes them harder to put down.


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