Liviu's Reviews > The Father Of Locks

The Father Of Locks by Andrew Killeen
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Jul 23, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2009_release_read, mainstream, read_2009, t_notable_books_2009
Read in August, 2009

This is a gem of a book - a must for any lover of Arabian Nights as myself, written in its style as stories within stories and taking place where else but in the Baghdad of Harun Al Rashid, but with a modern sensibility that fits the story perfectly.

While the plot despite its side-complications is fairly predictable, that is not the main attraction but the atmosphere, the stories themselves and of course the characters.

Most notably the title one, Abu Nuwas aka "Father of Locks" so named for his hairstyle, famous poet, lover of boys and wine and luckily living in a time and a place that allowed the indulgent consummation of both at least as long as it was not too scandalous. A somewhat reluctant agent of the famous Wazir Jafar of Arabian Nights fame and sort of court poet to Harun, Abu Nuwas' first meeting with the Caliph is just hysterical, though it almost turned tragic and as recounted later represents a perfect sample of how the book goes.


The narrator and other main character is a young Irish youngster who sold by his father to Al Andalus traders for wine, becomes a sort of surrogate child to them, but later when their ship comes back to the Mediterranean and is boarded by Christian pirates and he is captured and cruelly raped by the captain, barely manages to escape swimming after killing his rapist at night only to be sold in slavery on the North African coast; luckily his passion for learning and ability to spin tales gets him bought by a kindly master Hermes with ambitions of training promising young boys to be sold at higher mark-up as entertainers and such later...

Things turn otherwise and the young Ismail al-Rawia (The Teller of Tales) as he calls himself finally makes its way through the Caliphate to the legendary Baghdad where his most fond wish is to read some ancient Greek scrolls...

By (mis) chance he comes to the attention of Jafar and only his quick wit and poetry quoting saves young Ismail from mutilation for theft, but Jafar likes the boy's quick wit and in typical Arabian Nights fortune reversal he is sent to Abu Nuwas as his apprentice and to help him investigate a demon-like apparition in Baghdad.

And of course Abu Nuwas is in trouble with creditors as usual, while his tongue cannot help but make things worse so it's up to Isamil to save the day from the beginning...

And Baghdad is in ferment too since famous visitors, namely an embassy from the far off Franks of Chrlemagne is coming and Harun al-Rashid or more precisely his ministers would like good relations with the upstart Frankish King since his immediate neighbors and rivals happen to be the Caliphate's two big western thorns, the Cordoba emirate where the former Ummayad dynasty - overthrown just a generation ago by Harun's grandfather - still rules and the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire

Just superb, a book to enjoy and immerse in and hopefully one of more to come featuring the two heroes...
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Shane (new)

Shane Hey Liviu,Father of Locks looks pretty cool.You start it yet?


Liviu has not arrived yet - expect it by Thursday latest, will go top of the pile; now reading Her Fearful Symmetry which arrived today unexpectedly and it is just great


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