Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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A Monday Evening Trilogy Capsule Review: The Arabesks

Three books that are almost one...

Pashazade: The First Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Ashraf Bey is many things to many people. So many that he doesn't really know who he is at all, apart from the fact that there's a fox in his head. Running away from an American prison, he comes home to El Iskandyria. It's a home he's never known, and he's here to get married. But when he turns down the arranged marriage, and his aunt is murdered, he suddenly finds himself caught up in the conspiracies and confusions that are life in this alternate tomorrow, where the Ottoman Empire never fell. Having to become detective isn't quite what he had in mind, but it seems to be the only way to avoid being the prime suspect. A powerful and compelling novel that grips the reader from the first page.

Effendi: The Second Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Things aren't going well for Ashraf Bey and El Iskandyria. His ex-fiancee's father is accused of genocide, the city is falling apart at the seams, someone is killing the tourists, and for some reason he seems to be in charge. In a maze of flashbacks and flashforwards, Jon Courtney Grimwood guides us through another complex sequence of events. It's street thriller meets courtroom drama meets cyberpunk in a world where power politics is all, and one man has the tools to, if not change the world, then bend it his way for a little while. There's a larger role here too, for Ashraf Bey's nine-year old niece, the mysterious and talented Hani, who can make computers sing and dance for her. Another excellent story, in Grimwood's best series to date.

Felaheen: The Third Arabesk, Jon Courtney Grimwood
Ashraf Bey's back story comes to the fore here, as the story leaves El Iskandyria for Tunis and the politics of the wider world. The Emir of Tunis is on the edge of dying, and as Ashraf appears to be one of his sons, he finds himself drawn into yet more conspiracies and lies. It's not a happy journey for him. This time he has to face who his mother was, who is father was and the shape of the world. It's a complex tale, one that starts with Ashraf Bey on the verge of death in the desert, and takes through flashbacks to the very beginning of his journey. Not quite as compelling perhaps as the first two novels in the series, but definitely still a cut above the average, and a fitting conclusion to the series.

Now to see what Jon Courtney Grimwood does next...
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