The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
S.E. Lindberg rating: 4 of 5 stars
”I have seldom met a man who so feared taking up a pen.” – So speaks a fortune teller to the hero Asim in “The Desert of Souls”
Howard A. Jones is a Writer...and a Swordsman!
If Howard A. Jones had any fear of taking up a pen to write, I am glad he overcame it. He has long held a passion for action fiction and throughout his career has re-introduced readers to Harold Lamb, moderated Sword and Sorcery websites, and edited the Dark Fantasy magazine Blackgate. With Desert of Souls he demonstrates his ability to translate his passion for revitalizing fantasy fiction by producing his own creative work. Well done. He seems to being live vicariously through his hero Asim who claims “not to be a writer… only a swordsman," but (since Desert of Souls is a first person narrative in Asim’s voice) Howard/Asim proves to be a worthy storyteller regardless of any alleged fear of writing instruments.
Kevin J. Anderson (author of The Map of All Things) aptly likened this book to “a cross between Sinbad and Indiana Jones,” and E. E. Knight (author of Vampire Earth Series) accurately described this as a “… rich, detailed tapestry—part Arthur Conan Doyle, part Robert E. Howard, and part Omar Khayyam, woven in the magical thread of One Thousand and One Nights.”
The writing is crisp and is carried by an engaging relationship between the duo: Asim and Dabir. Plenty of super natural action (fights with djinns, undead creatures, sorcerers, etc.) saturate their adventures through treacherous deserts, ruins, and the otherworld. An abundance of miraculous/chance-encounters keeps this from a 5 star rating, but remains highly recommended. I look forward to delving into more Asim and Dabir tales: The Bones of the Old Ones and The Waters of Eternity.
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