If there is a fantasy book that makes moralizing fun, then it is Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed. The book, full of tropes about ghuls, evildoers, and the quest for power, is also about the holy scripture of the book’s invented religion. And the characters in this book love to throw lines of scripture around with the force of a good punchline, if only to prove their point, or to convince the beloved, if way-too-strict, warrior-monk Raseed to simply enjoy a good meal.
The worldbuilding in this book is quite layered. The city itself is a major character. The politics are leading to civil war. An evil, powerhungry, creature is gathering force, and the “Humble Servants” of God threaten to ruin everything with their overzealous enforcement of God’s way
If this book suffers from anything, it is a slightly lagging plot, and the occasionally long description of city life , but that is easily forgotten as the strongly drawn characters plunge into danger, or insist on a nap. Depending on their age.
One of my favorite scenes presents a simple question: Should a meal be joyful, even if it is to happen before a bloodbath? Even if the answer is no, there is joy in joining the characters in this book as each of them answer such simple, if not easy, questions, in their own way.
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