Nastassja's Reviews > A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
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Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feeling
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world
Don't you dare close your eyes
A hundred thousand things to see
Hold your breath - it gets better
I'm like a shooting star
I've come so far
I can't go back to where I used to be

- Tim Rice (lyrics from Aladdin)

Do you familiar with a feeling when you open a fine bottle of wine and pour in your glass, and, at first, your wine touches with the air and you feel the bouquet of flavors, and you let your senses taste the story behind these smells - uncover its ingredients - and only then you let yourself take a sip of that wine and let it stream through your blood, enchanting you and singing its secrets to you. After a few more glasses you are fully under its spell (well, if you are not feeling its magic yet, have another glass, please, to be sure).

Alright, maybe the comparison with wine was not the best, but my feelings toward this book were similar to feeling intoxicated with a good wine (otherwise there's no point to be drunk if the wine is not good, right?). A thousand nights is a good wine you can't stop enjoying until you drunk on its richness and magic and beauty and, most of all, its uniqueness. This book is one in a million. It's a gem. It was one of those rare cases when I was hooked from the first words. This is a true fairy tale: like, every other book I called fairy tale before is not it, compared to this one. Magic, wisdom, true east, demons, princes, desert, castles, love, friendship and a healthy dose of feminism - this is the bouquet of A thousand nights.

It began slowly. One moving spark in a sky full of fixed lights, spiraling blue and gold, and then doused by the blackness of the sky. Not all of us saw it, it burned so quickly, but soon there were plenty of lights to marvel at.

The story is about a common desert girl, who only wanted to save her beloved sister from a terrible fate of becoming a wife of a man who killed hundreds of his wives before. The girl made her sacrifice in the name of love for her sister, but in doing so, she saved thousands of lives.
“My sister is no fool and she is not tender-hearted,” I said. “My sister fights for her home, and takes what risks she must. That is why I put myself before her today—why I would not let you have her. My sister burns, and she does not burn for you.”

Sisterly love is so pure and strong in this book. I never had a sister, but I wish I had the one like our Nameless heroine.

This book is not your typical YA; you will not find here swoon worthy princes and kick ass heroines. Nope. Our Nameless heroine is a fighter, but she fights with a special magic - magic made by love and wisdom.

“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”

It's is not a story of how one girl defied an evil force and saved everyone, no, this is a story of how all women united in one had saved the world. Yes, this book is a hymn to feminism in many ways, but it is not about how women fought for their rights in a world made by men. It is a story about women's unity and wisdom; how to be just a woman in a world made by men, but also how not to overcome but make it a better and a kinder place.
“I am yours to command, husband,” I said to him, and met his eyes.
When my mother spoke to our father, she often said that. He liked it, the way she put herself in his hands. Until just now, I had not realized that since my mother was the one who allowed it, she had more power than even he might have realized. Lo-Melkhiin thought I was less than him; but his was not the only tally.

Then the other women would start to talk to one another. Through them, my mothers learned more of the habits of the men our father traded with than he had ever dreamed of.
“With your eyes on your work,” my mother had said to me, thinking to prepare me for a trader’s life, “it is easy to forget who is present to hear your mouth. You and your sister must remember that, when you are wed. Do good work, and those you work with will tell you things beyond what you can imagine.”

A thousand nights is slow paced, but the story has twists and turns, and there's terrifying moments and joyful moments. There's not much action, but it did not make me less fidgety, worrying over our Nameless heroine's fate. There's no romance. There's love, but no actual romantic line. It never bothered me, really; the language and the whole story were so beautiful and captivating that the whole concept of love was enough to satisfy me. And let me mention that E.K. Johnston is a forensic archaeologist by training and a grammarian by nature. I am not an expert on east but I felt an authenticity of eastern culture in every word and description the author gave me.
We had skin of burnt bronze, a deeper brown than sand, and duskier where it was exposed to the wind and sky. Our hair was long enough to sit upon, and dark: the color around the stars, when night was at its fullest.

There's a reason only one character has a name in this book. It's Lo-Melkhiin - our main hero and villain. He is the king. He is a symbol for his people. His name will be written into history, other names will be forgotten, but their stories will be not. Lo-Melkhiin's name will not be forgotten, but his story will change: what he was, what were his reasons behind the murders will change. Our Nameless heroine's name is forgotten but her story stays true: she saved the king and the kingdom. Nameless but powerful.

Always, it seemed, men would overlook unpleasant things for the sake of those that went well. The statues’ eyes for the melodious sounds of the fountain. The deaths of their daughters for the bounty of their trade.
There was great beauty in this qasr, but there was also great ugliness and fear. I would not be like those men who turned their eyes from one to see the other. I would remember what those things cost.

The monster tested her, pulling at her soul and rending her spirit. She clung to life, and in the clinging she might have become a monster too, except she chose the path her story would take. She chose white stone walls and a golden crown. She chose to debate words of law, and to never grind her own grain. She chose to fight men every day, and then fight their sons, who thought they knew better than their fathers.<...> If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth. Until then, I will tell you this: the world is made safe by a woman.

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Quotes Nastassja Liked

E.K. Johnston
“Always, it seemed, men would overlook unpleasant things for the sake of those that went well. The statues’ eyes for the melodious sounds of the fountain. The deaths of their daughters for the bounty of their trade.
There was great beauty in this qasr, but there was also great ugliness and fear. I would not be like those men who turned their eyes from one to see the other. I would remember what those things cost.”
E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights

E.K. Johnston
“My sister is no fool and she is not tender-hearted,” I said. “My sister fights for her home, and takes what risks she must. That is why I put myself before her today—why I would not let you have her. My sister burns, and she does not burn for you.”
E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights

E.K. Johnston
“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes. They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”
E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights

E.K. Johnston
“I am yours to command, husband,” I said to him, and met his eyes.
When my mother spoke to our father, she often said that. He liked it, the way she put herself in his hands. Until just now, I had not realized that since my mother was the one who allowed it, she had more power than even he might have realized. Lo-Melkhiin thought I was less than him; but his was not the only tally.”
E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights

E.K. Johnston
“The monster tested her, pulling at her soul and rending her spirit. She clung to life, and in the clinging she might have become a monster too, except she chose the path her story would take. She chose white stone walls and a golden crown. She chose to debate words of law, and to never grind her own grain. She chose to fight men every day, and then fight their sons, who thought they knew better than their fathers.<...> If you listen long enough to the whispers, you will hear the truth. Until then, I will tell you this: the world is made safe by a woman.”
E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights


Reading Progress

July 5, 2015 – Shelved
Started Reading
November 1, 2015 – Finished Reading
November 2, 2015 –
12.0% "“My sister is no fool and she is not tender-hearted,” I said. “My sister fights for her home, and takes what risks she must. That is why I put myself before her today—why I would not let you have her. My sister burns, and she does not burn for you.” \n Wow, I want to have a sister like our Nameless heroine. I already love her<3"

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast) Wonderful review!


Nastassja Mia wrote: "Wonderful review!"

Thank you, Mia, it was a magical book. Highly recommend))


message 3: by Nalani (new) - added it

Nalani Ah, Disney memories.


Nastassja Nalani wrote: "Ah, Disney memories."

Yep, Disney is the best)) The lyrics and the music were playing in my head while reading, couldn't resist using it for my review.


message 5: by Nalani (new) - added it

Nalani I can see why.


message 6: by Masooma (new)

Masooma Okayy, N! You've so totally sold this book to me. I can't wait to get drunk :p Awesome review and have you read the Wrath and the Dawn?


Nastassja Masooma wrote: "Okayy, N! You've so totally sold this book to me. I can't wait to get drunk :p Awesome review and have you read the Wrath and the Dawn?"

LOL, Masooma))) I've read Wrath and the dawn and wasn't impressed, the book was too cliche YA and though the language and the culture seemed beautifully written, characters and the plot did not impress me, and there was a very annoying love triangle... But I am considering giving the second book a chance, maybe there will be progress.


message 8: by Katerina (last edited Nov 07, 2015 12:42AM) (new) - added it

Katerina Kondrenko WOW. Sounds like a REALLY good book. Our villain is a true villain or, just like many of YA ones, has his "reasons"?)


message 9: by Masooma (new)

Masooma Aw, you should :) I loved it so I was like should I read this one or not but your review has made me feel that I should give it a chance.


Nastassja He's a true villain, Kat and a very bad one though not completely without his reasons (villains without reasons are dull). I know I am a perv. but I liked him in some way, he was hot and there were moments when things were really heated but everything was mostly teasing. Anyway, I can't tell you the whole villain thing 'cos it is a spoiler;)


Nastassja Masooma wrote: "Aw, you should :) I loved it so I was like should I read this one or not but your review has made me feel that I should give it a chance."

Thanks for advice, I will seriously consider reading it then))


message 12: by Katerina (new) - added it

Katerina Kondrenko Nastassja wrote: "He's a true villain, Kat and a very bad one though not completely without his reasons (villains without reasons are dull). I know I am a perv. but I liked him in some way, he was hot and there were..."

Ouch, I need to read this sooner! Steamy moments with true villain with some reasons... Nina would call it YUMMY!)


Nastassja Don't get your hopes high though, there are hot moments but no romance xD


message 14: by Katerina (new) - added it

Katerina Kondrenko Nastassja wrote: "Don't get your hopes high though, there are hot moments but no romance xD"

I'd prefer all together, but okay (sad meme).


Nastassja Katerina wrote: "Nastassja wrote: "Don't get your hopes high though, there are hot moments but no romance xD"

I'd prefer all together, but okay (sad meme)."

The story is so beautiful that you won't be too sad for long about the lack of romance)


message 16: by Katerina (new) - added it

Katerina Wow what a wonderfully written review Nastassja!!^^


Nastassja Katerina wrote: "Wow what a wonderfully written review Nastassja!!^^"

Thank you, Katerina<3 It was a wonderful book and I am sure you will love this one too))


Sarina Your review was hauntingly, darkly, and powerfully beautiful. Now I must read the book that inspired it.


Nastassja Sarina wrote: "Your review was hauntingly, darkly, and powerfully beautiful. Now I must read the book that inspired it."

Aww, thank you very much, Sarina ^^ It makes me so happy, knowing that my review affected your wish to read this book. It was a really beautiful fairy tale. I hope you'll like it.


Kainat 《HUFFLEPUFF & PROUD》 Wow this is such a great review, Nas!

"My sister burns,
but she does not burn for you."


I love this quote! Like, burn, mofo!! Lol.


Nastassja Kainat Ijaz wrote: "Wow this is such a great review, Nas!

"My sister burns,
but she does not burn for you."

I love this quote! Like, burn, mofo!! Lol."


Thank you, Kainat!))

LMAO, your version of this quote will do too)))

I love that this book has lots of such strong, bone-deep phrases that make you really feel.


Kainat 《HUFFLEPUFF & PROUD》 Agreed! :D


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