Wei Cho's Reviews > Shrine of the Desert Mage

Shrine of the Desert Mage by Stephen Goldin
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's review
Jan 30, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, request-review

I enjoyed this book very much. I think it was a great journey through Arab-style setting and the immense expanse of desert and magic. The story was good, the descriptive words were captivating, the imagery was well-used, and the metaphors were sort of overused (but I couldn't expect less from a story featuring sages and mages).

The characters were well formed, each with distinct characteristics, personalities, souls, and motivations. I like the characterization and plot development that the story took from its beginnings. It seeped in me a feel of familiarity and growth. As the story progressed, more twists were added to the story, making it an exciting read. Though I must confess that many of the twists and whatnot were kind of predictable. For instance, I knew that Jafar would end up with Cari's ring ten chapters before it actually happened. And that some way or the other, Jafar and Ahmad will end up traveling together. The story, though somewhat original, has a familiar sound from all the fantasy-like stories preceding this one. Though "Shrine of the Desert Mage" has its merits as well.

I didn't like how the first book "ended", like it creates an immediate link to the next installment without giving this installment a proper ending. For example, I don't know what happened to Hakem Rafi and Aeshma other that they escaped. For some reason, at the end of the book, the story shifted and focused more on Ahmad, Umar, Jafar, Selima, and Cari and forgot all about everyone else. One thing that I liked about this story was the objectivity and partiality that the author presented each character, giving the same importance to each one. When I first started reading, I couldn't define who the main characters were because he (the author) wrote of everybody with the same importance.

As for the story, great story, as I mentioned before. For some reason I like Cari the best, and Jafar the least. But that might be because of how Jafar cunningly deceived Cari in the beginning. For the technical part of the writing, I can tell the author did a great job at studying the Middle East and desert-like traditions because the entire book was infused with it. He also used beautiful, artistic, and poetic words to describe many of the settings and instances of the book. I feel that I learned a lot of vocabulary words and customs and traditions from that faraway land.

One thing I was slightly annoyed with was how Umar told Ahmad to recite the origin of Parsina to him. It felt like the author was trying to explain the origins of the world through the mouths of their characters, which I find highly acceptable, but overused by so many authors.

The reason I didn't give this a five star (as I wanted to) was because the story didn't "hook" me. I didn't feel the urge to grab my kindle and read it until I felt satisfied with the amount of reading I did during that determined time, or finished it in one day. However, I do recommend this book.

Well, overall I think this is a great story, beautiful writing style, in-depth analysis and presentation of a totally different culture, and spell-binding story. I will welcome the second installment with much eagerness.
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Reading Progress

January 30, 2012 – Started Reading
January 30, 2012 – Shelved
February 1, 2012 –
page 68
February 5, 2012 – Shelved as: fantasy
February 5, 2012 – Finished Reading
October 3, 2012 – Shelved as: request-review

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