Felicia's Reviews > Throne of the Crescent Moon

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
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's review
Jul 03, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

I went into this with a open mind knowing a tale based on a fictional Islamic Fertile Crescent inspired kingdom would have skewed gender biases. I knew this book would not be like Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Leiutenant. I was willing to forgive the narrow field of characters for women, and totally expected while I did not condone the use of phrase like "cry like a woman". I was willing to even allow for the word whore and mistreatment of women in the novel solely because it added a historic validity and added to the mood and setting of the story. It was not something I agreed with but it did create an atmosphere. Even to a lesser extent I was willing to put up with what I felt was uneven character development between the opposing characters of Raseed and Zamia. But the thing that was totally unacceptable to me, and will keep me from ever rereading this book and think twice before picking up anything else by the author, was when Zamia tells us she can't shapeshift when she is on her period. Now while I understand this to be a cultural reference to women being unable to do things in Islam like pray when they are menstrating, I felt this particular bit of information was awkward, more insulting than anything I had read previously, and worst of all, completely unnecessary for either plot or character development. In no way does this hinder her in the actual plot and it's just throne in as gee lucky break my period was last week or I wouldn't be able to fight the final boss.

I had to put the book down and walk away for several days before deciding to finish it. But it wasn't the same and it was the straw that broke the camels back. I read the rest solely out of duty to not leave the story unfinished and couldn't enjoy it.

By no means do I think this makes the author sexist. On the contrary. I think he was working diligently to create a strong female character, but did so only through strength. One could argue that he was trying to emulate the cultures' stories but lets be honest. This story was written in the 21st century and there are standards for female characters I felt the author not only didn't meet, but totally failed to go in the correct direction.it was truly unnecessary and offensive to both men and women who feel like these representations of women are ludicrous and poor development on the part of the author. I would likely only read anything else he writes if he does some serious development on his female character building skills.
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John Anderson I agree, Zamia's inability to transform while on her period did jump out as unnecessary and worse yanked me out of the story while I was very much into it. It was too blatant a reminder that the religious mythology of the story was based very much on a very ugly aspect of religious "reality".

I cut the author some slack on it however due to the more modern/liberal Islamic interpretation of the laws this was based on which is that menstruation as a biological process is not considered unclean, rather it is blood in general when not inside the body, that is considered unclean. So I think he included it as an extra glimpse at the rules behind however his world's system of magic worked.

On second thought though, it does make me wonder if male ghul hunters in his world would be unable to cast magic if they happened to be bleeding from a wound which would put them all one papercut away from vulnerability... so okay, maybe I cut him too much slack.

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