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Literature / The Crescent Moon Kingdoms

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A fantasy series by Saladin Ahmed that takes place in an Islamic-inspired fantasyland, the Crescent Moon Kingdoms, rather than the typical Medieval European Fantasy. Dr. Adoulla Makhslood is a ghul-hunter in the city of Dhamsawaat, accompanied by his trusty sword-wielding assistant, Raseed bas Raseed.

While still retaining spirit of High Fantasy, although it seems a lot more comfortable as sword & sorcery (Heroic Fantasy) this series plays with character and setting tropes for a unique look on a traditional quest.

The first book, Throne of the Crescent Moon was released in 2012, and the follow-up The Thousand and One and at least one other sequel is forthcoming.

Tropes include:

  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, Dhamsawaat is saved for the time being, but the young and idealistic prince is dead and the Falcon Prince has taken on the powers of the Cobra Throne. Adoulla and Miri finally reach an understanding, but marrying Miri means that Adoulla, last of the ghul hunters, must retire. Raseed and Zamia also acknowledge their feelings for another, but Raseed decides to continue his training, which means he is forbidden to marry if he wishes to reach the position of Shaykh.
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  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While the Falcon Prince isn't unambiguously good by any standard, the Khalif has no reedeeming traits whatsoever.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Dawoud and Adoulla are both drained by their magics. But the former literally spends the days of his life to power his magic, and acknowledges the events of the book take months off his life.
  • Celibate Hero: Adoulla unwillingly, Raseed because of his oaths.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Raseed. Capable of cleaving apart ghuls in one strike, leaping across a room in a single bound, and breaking staffs with his bare hands. Apparently just part of the training in being a dervish.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Raseed considers the pile up of these in a single day to be an unsettling sign of what will follow.
  • Crapsack World: Between poverty, violence, ghuls, and political unrest, Dhamsawaat is looking pretty grim.
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  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The magic practiced by Adoulla and other ghul-hunters borrows its power from a pantheon transparently standing in for the Abrahamic one, complete with a capital-G God, a Traitorous Angel, a host of Ministering Angels and a tome of Heavenly Chapters.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Literally, the Kemeti Dead Gods.
  • Famous Last Words: "Cheated. Mouw Awa the manjackal hath been cheated."
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: To Middle Eastern and Islamic cultures.
    • Abassen, the caliphate (khalifate?) in which the book takes place is patterned off of the Middle East (the name is taken from the Abbasids). The city of Dhamsawaat in particular is clearly inspired by the mythical Baghdad of the Arabian Nights fame.
    • The Badawi are analogous to Bedouins. "Badawi" is the singular Arabic for nomad; "bedouin" is the anglicization. The region in which they live, the Empty Kingdom, might be a reference to the Empty Quarter.
    • The Soo Republic stands in for Darkest Africa. Not enough information is given to determine which specific parts of Africa.
    • Rughal-ba is probably India under Moghul rule, though it's not yet known if there is anything analogous to Hindu India. This is reinforced by the name of the capital, Tamajal, which is similar to Taj Mahal.
    • The War Lands to the north probably stands in for Europe. The sole named region is Braxony.
    • The Kem empire is one for ancient Egypt, complete with Pharaohs.
  • Freudian Trio
  • Full-Name Basis: Adoulla manages to recall Zamia's full name, which impresses her.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The jackal-headed Mouw Awa.
  • Pedophile Priest: Why they decide to send the orphan boy to his aunt the brothel owner, rather than put give him to a religious charity house.
  • Phantasy Spelling: It might just be alternate transliterations of Arabic terms; still, the book is riddled with "alkhemy," "faroes," and of course, "ghuls."
  • Religion Is Magic: Adoulla destroys ghuls by quoting Scripture at them.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Kem empire might be long gone, but some of its secrets still lie hidden. Adoulla faced one of their constructs - a giant serpent construct made out of gold and with giant rubies for eyes - when some poor fool wound up digging it out.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Prince Sammari wants to kill his father for strangling his mother to death.
  • Shoot the Dog: Assuming that he's telling the truth, the Falcon Prince drinks the Prince's blood with his permission, only to discover there are no "good" powers granted by the Cobra Throne.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Adoulla doesn't care who hears him making seditious remarks about the Khalif.
  • Talkative Loon: Mouw Awa, who cannot seem to stop talking.
  • Title Drop: When they finally translate the ancient text, guess what it mentions?
  • The Great Wall: Well, the Heavenly Wall. A great big golden wall that separates Abassen from Rughal-ba.

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