Taghri has left the Sultan's army to seek his fortune - and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war... but some prizes may be more trouble than they're worth!
Nestled among the gold coins in the captain's cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention - too close! - to its new owner. Among the slaves he's freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there's also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.
It's going to take all of Taghri's skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!
Has all the makings of a fine action movie and not much else. Don’t get me wrong, it is well-written and flows nicely, but has very little nuance at any level. Good guy fights bad guys, wants to get the girl.
This is of the genre of not-so-young-man-does-good stories that were fairly common in days of yore. Writers like H. Beam Piper and David Drake used to give us lots of these. They deviate from the young-man-does-good stories of authors like Alan Dean Foster in that our protagonist has at least a decade of adult life under his belt. He's done his time in the trenches (often literally) and is ready to wed his worldly experience with youthful energy to carve out his place in the world. He'll use restless initiative and wits to shock the world and his enemies, along with a strong sense of justice and an almost present-day morality to earn the loyalty of his followers and comrades. There's almost always a young woman who's only just entered adulthood but who also exhibits maturity beyond her years to win, usually by climbing the social ladder (if the society has nobility, he'll be a commoner or close to it at the beginning of the story, but fairly elevated up the noble chain by the end). A large component of his success will be based on this character seeing what others cannot, often by finding new and innovative ways to use whatever tech is cutting-edge for their culture. Piper's Lord Kalvin of Otherwhen is probably the pinnacle of this genre, though you can absolutely see how it grew from books like The Count of Monte Cristo and A Princess of Mars.
This book posits a world like ours, but where the monotheisms that came to dominate the world never developed. Taghri's world is one of many gods, and even the gods of a single pantheon can be jealous of one another. It's a world where the gods also take a hand in things, though slowly, and often through agents. It's also a world of gunpowder and, but for the lack of faiths like Islam and Christianity, looks like our own in the 16th century.
Taghri is an experienced campaigner, a veteran of the Sultan's wars who tries his hand at being a merchant. He's hardly gotten started when he finds himself fighting for his life again, this time against pirates. He slays the pirate captain and claims his ship. Among the treasures stowed on board is a princess and a knife that tingles with magical power. These treasures bring him to the attention of both this world's secular and divine powers, and he uses this opportunity to work his way to greatness.
This is a decent book of its type, but not a great one. The writing is engaging and descriptive, Taghri is sufficiently sympathetic (the dude never misses an opportunity to save a cat), and the action is written with gusto. However, you rarely feel much tension; suspense for our hero or his friends is frequently undercut when they quickly show that their hard work and cleverness has made them far and away better prepared for any encounter than their foes. The world-building also feels fairly meh. We get just enough local color for this to feel like a modern retelling of a story from the 1,001 Nights, but little else. Our hero doesn't help matters by never failing to exhibit modern sensibilities towards issues like slavery. While he doesn't give any impassioned speeches about the evils of slavery, he never fails to free any slave he comes across, nor does he show any interest in enslaving his enemies. And, while the setting strongly implies that Taghri's friends and allies own slaves, we never, ever see even one. This and a few other choices by the author leads to the setting feeling a bit like a Hollywood back-lot more than a real place.
That all said, this is a fine book of its type, and if you're spoiling for a book along these lines, you'll probably enjoy Taghri's Prize.
This book reads like a teenager's daydream. The improbable wars with the impossible to avoid having to consider the merely unlikely.
I did not come close to reading every word. As another review noted, the detail is excessive. The conversations are stilted and unnatural feeling. And I was unable to suspend my disbelief at how fantastically smoothly everything went for him. So I read the first few chapters, skimmed a number more, and then skipped to the end to see if it went as anticipated (it did, basically exactly), then came here to review it.
Short summary - one man, former military and caravan guard, gets lucky and captures a pirate ship on his own (first chapter). Instead of nearly inevitably leading to his murder by the first person to realize he is in possession of wealth he cannot protect and has no firm claim to, it leads to a very rapid upward cycle that culminates predictably in his getting the girl. A few twists and turns on the way, but nothing to make you think failure is a possibility. Very like he is still guarding that caravan in the heat, and lost in a daydream.
I was interested in reading Grant's other work, and will probably still try it. But this was not a good starting point, wouldn't recommend it at all.
Peter Grant has written another tale of high adventure with a heroic protagonist, a damsel in distress and suitably evil villains. I have bought all of his previous novels and enjoyed them all. The author's technique improves with each story.
Well, this is pretty much a one-book story. And it was really very pleasant and entertaining to read. No overdone and bloody battles, just a fast moving plot and a very clever and likable main character. The world the author has created is an interesting one. I would be happy to read more about it if he felt the urge.
Such a good story! Loved the mc, especially how well he planned acted and led! Also really liked the romantic relationship. So cool how the square sails and different cannons were included and how effective they were! An early favorite of mine was the Horatio Hornblower series. To me this novel was similar, yet even better! Really a wonderful read!
This was a great read, and set in a remarkably interesting alternate history. Characters were interesting and well developed, and the pacing was perfect. I'm just hoping that there's at least one sequel coming! Highly, highly recommended.