OVERRIDE

The Desert of Souls

Desert of Souls (Volume 1)

Howard Andrew Jones

St. Martin's Griffin

The glittering tradition of sword-and-sorcery sweeps into the sands of ancient Arabia with the heart-stopping speed of a whirling dervish in this thrilling debut

In 8th century Baghdad, the scholar Dabir realizes that a jeweled tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. But when the tablet is stolen by a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi, Dabir and Captain Asim go after it on the life-or-death adventure of a lifetime...

Praise for THE DESERT OF SOULS:

"The Desert of Souls is filled with adventure, magic, compelling characters and twists that are twisty. This is seriously cool stuff." - Steven Brust, New York Times bestselling author of the Vlad Taltos series

“A grand and wonderful adventure filled with exotic magic and colorful places — like a cross between Sinbad and Indiana Jones.” -- Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of The Map of All Things

“Like the genie of the lamp, Howard Jones has granted this reader's wish for a fresh, exciting take on the venerable genre of sword-and-sorcery!” --Richard A. Knaak, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Legends of the Dragonrealm

"Howard Andrew Jones spins an exciting and suspenseful tale in his historical fantasy debut. 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." -- E.E. Knight, Author of the bestselling Vampire Earth

An entertaining and enjoyable journey into a world of djinns and magic far darker than expected, yet one that ends with hope, both for the characters... and that there will be yet another book.”  -- L. E. Modesitt, Jr,  author of the Recluse Saga, the Imager Portfolio, and the Corean Chronicles

"A modern iteration of old school storytelling. Highly recommended to anyone in search of a fun run through strange lands and times." -- Glen Cook, author of The Black Company Series

“Suspenseful and charming.” –Charlaine Harris

"Howard Jones wields magic like a subtle blade and action like a mighty cleaver in his scimitars and sorcery tale, weaving together Arabian myth, history, and some honest-to-gosh surprises to create a unique story that you’ll not soon forget."  -- Monte Cook, author of The Dungeon Masters Guide, 3rd Edition

"A rousing tale of swords against sorcery. Howard Jones writes with wit and flair. His world is involving, authentic and skilfully evoked. The best fantasy novel I have read all year." -- William King, Author of the Space Wolf trilogy and creator of Gotrek and Felix

"A whirlwind tale of deserts, djinn and doors to other worlds, told in a voice perfectly pitched for the style and setting." --Nathan Long, author of Bloodborn and Shamanslayer

“An Arabian Nights adventure as written by Robert E Howard. It is exciting, inventive, and most of all fun.” --Dave Drake, author of The Legion of Fire

“As richly textured as an antique rug, this fantasy-mystery sweeps readers into ancient Baghdad.… Asim's dazzling swordplay, his Muslim piety, and his unwavering loyalty to his friend balance Dabir's bittersweet devotion to Sabirah as the pair battle forbidden magic that forces them to slice away layers of their own spirits. Their antagonist, evil Zarathustrian sorcerer Firouz, poses moral questions that deepen this multicolored Arabian-nights tale, as does the plight of pretty, quick-witted Sabirah, who prizes scholarship and lives for the moment while facing the fate of a political marriage. A captivating setting and well-realized characters make this a splendid flying-carpet ride.” –Publishers Weekly

“An exciting, colorfully written novel with engaging characters and a story that mixes fantasy and real-world elements. It should appeal to readers of fast-paced historical mysteries.” --Booklist

"But though comparisons to the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert E. Howard are merited due to plot and authorial provenance, there’s an even more fundamental similarity. At its heart, Jones’ work is a great read—a page-turner in its purest form. As such, The Desert of Souls is a powerful place—it can wreck sleeping schedules, cause chores to be neglected and, best of all, make one yearn for the next installment." –BookPage

"Jones's first novel blends the ambience of The Arabian Nights with the brilliant detection of Sherlock Holmes novels to produce an unusual fantasy detective novel—and a potential series opener—with wit and style. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. Howard, and Middle Eastern mythology will enjoy this unusual debut." --Library Journal

"Lives up to the best in sword and sorcery traditions... Dabir and Asim are a winning pair who complement each others’ strengths well... those who like lots of swordplay mixed with some inventive magic will likely enjoy this." --RT BOOK Reviews

“Howard Jones proves himself a rare master of the storyteller’s art, a talent uncommon even amongst successful novelists. He’s written a pure, unapologetic, classically-structured adventure tale…. Brilliant and immediate characterization, not only for Asim, the narrator, but Dabir, as well, perfect pacing, and a truly intriguing mystery draw the reader deeply into the world of the story. At one point, a story within the story allows Jones to comment on the act of storytelling itself. The novel is polished to a mirror sheen, but it has that something extra that takes a story beyond technical excellence and into the human heart…. If you have any interest in historical fiction, fantasy adventure, Robert Howard, Harold Lamb, or the One Thousand and One Nights, you will love this book. If you’re not sure about any of those things, it’s still very possible that you may love this book. Stories that stay with me as this one has don’t come around very often, and I’m inclined to spread the word when they do.  Read this book.” –Greenmanreview.com

"One of the best debuts, likely the best debut, I’ve read since Ian Treglis’ Bitter Seeds last year.  The Desert of Souls is, in a word, awesome.... You’ll be hard pressed to find a debut as accomplished as The Desert of Souls.  This is some top notch fantasy adventure fiction that will put a grin on your face.  I want more." --kingofthenerds.wordpress.com 

 

"Both characters are excellently realized.... This is a very satisfying first novel, and I will certainly be looking for the promised sequel." --SFSite.com 

 

"I loved this book. This could possibly be the shortest review I ever write, because I don't know how to say it any other way: I loved this book. I wish it had been about 800 pages long. I wish I could pop in the DVD and watch the movie. I wish I had the kind of pocket change to pay Howard Andrew Jones to write me another story just like this. I wish I had the power to stop time, drop everything, and read every single one of the source texts he lists in his afterword. Heck, I wish I had the power to turn back time two days just so I could read this book all over again." --Intergalacticmedicineshow.com 

 

"Filled with adventure, magic, evil magicians, prophecies, djinn, and nefarious dealings....  Asim is a very able storyteller and much feels like you're sitting around the fire listening in. The Desert of Souls is a wholly satisfying buddy escapade.  I give The Desert of Souls 8 out of 10 hats. This is the kind of book that felt like it was written specifically for me and pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've closed the cover and shout for more." --Booktionary.blogspot.com  

 

"Jones’ Arabian Nights-style adventure has the polish of a cut diamond, and the finish of a veteran author.... Jones has an excellent sense of pace and an affinity for a tale properly told. Not rushed, but told as a story should be told, as though novelist and the reader were drawn up around a campfire with the whole night ahead for stories.... a welcome relief in these often dark times of current fantasy offerings." --TheSilverKey.blogspot.com

 

“Part mystery, part thriller, part adventure, all woven expertly by Jones to create a tapestry of vivid imagery and excitement… The characters are as lively as Leiber’s to be certain and the action is fast-paced and draws you in from page one. This is the kind of pulp adventure novel that ranks ups there with writers like Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy, and H. Rider Haggard. Fun and fresh!” –Mania.com, Grade A 

“The plot is like a roller coaster, going from one turn to another.  The writing is like a love child between Robert Ludlum and Michael Moorcock.  Very exceptional.  If this is the only fantasy book you read this year.  Read this one… Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!” -- fantasydreamer12.wordpress.com

The Desert of Souls is an elegantly written, deftly plotted, scimitar-and-sorcery tale, as colorful and romantic as a Persian carpet, woven with bright, daring exploits, frequent glints of humor, and the darker threads of heartbreak, pathos, and knotty moral quandries. It is a buddy story dressed in turbans and wearing daggers, exploring the burgeoning but sorely tested friendship between the narrator, Asim, a pious, loyal warrior with an unexpected flair for story-telling, and Dabir, the clever problem-solver who cannot resist a puzzle--or the flashing eyes and fine mind of a certain young woman.  Toss in some undead monkeys, a jaded djinn, a feathered serpent who hoards treasure of a most unusual kind, a fortune teller who may--or may not--have mixed up her clients' fortunes, an evil sorcerer corrupted by a lust for revenge, a lost city, a stowaway virgin, magical artifacts, forbidden love, and enough sword-play and suspense to satisfy the most ardent lover of action....drop it into the harsh, fantastical landscape of old Arabia... and you have the critically acclaimed, thoroughly delightful and moving debut novel of Howard Andrew Jones.” -- thestoneriver.blogspot.com

“The Desert of Souls is an engaging, enjoyable read that made me regret putting the book down whenever I had to stop… What I liked most about the book is the prose of Jones. Smooth and effortless, with a definite middle-eastern flair, I fell in love with Jones’s style and his skill at weaving adventure, action, wit, religion, and realism into a cohesive story. It also doesn’t hurt that a good first-person narrative is my favorite kind of story… Howard Andrew Jones has hooked me with a terrific story of middle-eastern adventure, rife with magic, swordplay, and great prose. I hope he decides to write another installment in the same setting with some of the same characters…I for one would look forward to such a tale, and I’m happy to have added The Desert of Souls to my library.” -- hippogriff.wordpress.com

“Like the best stories of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber, The Desert of Souls wastes no time with extraneous details or self-indulgent digressions, getting straight to the meat of the matter... Jones has succeeded in transporting the reader to another time and place and never once forgets that, first and foremost, this is an adventure novel, not a history text. There's a humility about the book that only added to the book's numerous charms. If, like me, you're not especially taken with contemporary fantasy has on offer, you should definitely take a look at The Desert of Souls. It's a fun read very much in the tradition of the best pulp fantasy but with plenty of unique pleasures owing to its historical and cultural setting.” -- grognardia.blogspot.com

“The Desert of Souls is many things: dark mystery, hard-hitting fantasy, edge-of-seat suspense and swashbuckling adventure. It is written in a fast-paced, page-turning style replete with exotic, historic locales, vivid descriptions and memorable characters… It is no coincidence Howard’s novel pays homage to the legacy of authors like Howard and Lamb. Over the past few years Howard has almost single-handedly resurrected the Sword & Sorcery genre, first as editor of the late Flashing Swords eZine and currently as Managing Editor of Black Gate Magazine. In addition, his painstakingly compiled eight volume collection of stories by prolific pulp author Lamb has made him that author’s premiere scholar, and reintroduced the once popular writer to today’s audience. It is this love of fantasy and exotic history, along with his grand sense of storytelling that has made Howard Andrew Jones a writer to be reckoned with for many years to come.” -- roguebladesentertainment.com

“A rollicking adventure… Howard Andrew Jones has created a masterpiece of entertainment in this journey back in time. Jones's writing style makes one feel as if they're listening to someone with incredible narrative talent telling a story as Asim and Dabir go from hurdle to hurdle, barely making it out alive from some. In Jones's hands, the characters come to vivid life, including the evil wizard, and it's easy to feel as if you've been transported back to early Baghdad as well. The dialogue, and especially the interplay between Asim & Dabir, rings true and speaks to a closeness only seen in strong teams like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Jones incorporates forbidden romance and other intrigues in this tale and as with all good storytellers, slowly builds up the suspense. Once you get to a certain point, you'll just have to finish this one as there's no setting it down. I've heard rumors that there is a sequel to come, and I hope they're true. For fans of sword and sorcery adventure, this is a don't miss.” –FreshFiction.com

"A fast-paced adventure tale, full of swords and magic and heroism, set in the world of One Thousand and One Nights...I highly recommend this to anybody who likes fun adventure tales made of awesome." --Bureau42.com

REVIEWS

Praise for The Desert of Souls

Praise for THE DESERT OF SOULS:

"The Desert of Souls is filled with adventure, magic, compelling characters and twists that are twisty. This is seriously cool stuff." - Steven Brust, New York Times bestselling author of the Vlad Taltos series

“A grand and wonderful adventure filled with exotic magic and colorful places — like a cross between Sinbad and Indiana Jones.” -- Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of The Map of All Things

“Like the genie of the lamp, Howard Jones has granted this reader's wish for a fresh, exciting take on the venerable genre of sword-and-sorcery!” --Richard A. Knaak, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Legends of the Dragonrealm

"Howard Andrew Jones spins an exciting and suspenseful tale in his historical fantasy debut. 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." -- E.E. Knight, Author of the bestselling Vampire Earth

An entertaining and enjoyable journey into a world of djinns and magic far darker than expected, yet one that ends with hope, both for the characters... and that there will be yet another book.”  -- L. E. Modesitt, Jr,  author of the Recluse Saga, the Imager Portfolio, and the Corean Chronicles

"A modern iteration of old school storytelling. Highly recommended to anyone in search of a fun run through strange lands and times." -- Glen Cook, author of The Black Company Series

“Suspenseful and charming.” –Charlaine Harris

"Howard Jones wields magic like a subtle blade and action like a mighty cleaver in his scimitars and sorcery tale, weaving together Arabian myth, history, and some honest-to-gosh surprises to create a unique story that you’ll not soon forget."  -- Monte Cook, author of The Dungeon Masters Guide, 3rd Edition

"A rousing tale of swords against sorcery. Howard Jones writes with wit and flair. His world is involving, authentic and skilfully evoked. The best fantasy novel I have read all year." -- William King, Author of the Space Wolf trilogy and creator of Gotrek and Felix

"A whirlwind tale of deserts, djinn and doors to other worlds, told in a voice perfectly pitched for the style and setting." --Nathan Long, author of Bloodborn and Shamanslayer

“An Arabian Nights adventure as written by Robert E Howard. It is exciting, inventive, and most of all fun.” --Dave Drake, author of The Legion of Fire

“As richly textured as an antique rug, this fantasy-mystery sweeps readers into ancient Baghdad.… Asim's dazzling swordplay, his Muslim piety, and his unwavering loyalty to his friend balance Dabir's bittersweet devotion to Sabirah as the pair battle forbidden magic that forces them to slice away layers of their own spirits. Their antagonist, evil Zarathustrian sorcerer Firouz, poses moral questions that deepen this multicolored Arabian-nights tale, as does the plight of pretty, quick-witted Sabirah, who prizes scholarship and lives for the moment while facing the fate of a political marriage. A captivating setting and well-realized characters make this a splendid flying-carpet ride.” –Publishers Weekly

“An exciting, colorfully written novel with engaging characters and a story that mixes fantasy and real-world elements. It should appeal to readers of fast-paced historical mysteries.” --Booklist

"But though comparisons to the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert E. Howard are merited due to plot and authorial provenance, there’s an even more fundamental similarity. At its heart, Jones’ work is a great read—a page-turner in its purest form. As such, The Desert of Souls is a powerful place—it can wreck sleeping schedules, cause chores to be neglected and, best of all, make one yearn for the next installment." –BookPage

"Jones's first novel blends the ambience of The Arabian Nights with the brilliant detection of Sherlock Holmes novels to produce an unusual fantasy detective novel—and a potential series opener—with wit and style. Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert E. Howard, and Middle Eastern mythology will enjoy this unusual debut." --Library Journal

"Lives up to the best in sword and sorcery traditions... Dabir and Asim are a winning pair who complement each others’ strengths well... those who like lots of swordplay mixed with some inventive magic will likely enjoy this." --RT BOOK Reviews

“Howard Jones proves himself a rare master of the storyteller’s art, a talent uncommon even amongst successful novelists. He’s written a pure, unapologetic, classically-structured adventure tale…. Brilliant and immediate characterization, not only for Asim, the narrator, but Dabir, as well, perfect pacing, and a truly intriguing mystery draw the reader deeply into the world of the story. At one point, a story within the story allows Jones to comment on the act of storytelling itself. The novel is polished to a mirror sheen, but it has that something extra that takes a story beyond technical excellence and into the human heart…. If you have any interest in historical fiction, fantasy adventure, Robert Howard, Harold Lamb, or the One Thousand and One Nights, you will love this book. If you’re not sure about any of those things, it’s still very possible that you may love this book. Stories that stay with me as this one has don’t come around very often, and I’m inclined to spread the word when they do.  Read this book.” –Greenmanreview.com

"One of the best debuts, likely the best debut, I’ve read since Ian Treglis’ Bitter Seeds last year.  The Desert of Souls is, in a word, awesome.... You’ll be hard pressed to find a debut as accomplished as The Desert of Souls.  This is some top notch fantasy adventure fiction that will put a grin on your face.  I want more." --kingofthenerds.wordpress.com 

 

"Both characters are excellently realized.... This is a very satisfying first novel, and I will certainly be looking for the promised sequel." --SFSite.com 

 

"I loved this book. This could possibly be the shortest review I ever write, because I don't know how to say it any other way: I loved this book. I wish it had been about 800 pages long. I wish I could pop in the DVD and watch the movie. I wish I had the kind of pocket change to pay Howard Andrew Jones to write me another story just like this. I wish I had the power to stop time, drop everything, and read every single one of the source texts he lists in his afterword. Heck, I wish I had the power to turn back time two days just so I could read this book all over again." --Intergalacticmedicineshow.com 

 

"Filled with adventure, magic, evil magicians, prophecies, djinn, and nefarious dealings....  Asim is a very able storyteller and much feels like you're sitting around the fire listening in. The Desert of Souls is a wholly satisfying buddy escapade.  I give The Desert of Souls 8 out of 10 hats. This is the kind of book that felt like it was written specifically for me and pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you've closed the cover and shout for more." --Booktionary.blogspot.com  

 

"Jones’ Arabian Nights-style adventure has the polish of a cut diamond, and the finish of a veteran author.... Jones has an excellent sense of pace and an affinity for a tale properly told. Not rushed, but told as a story should be told, as though novelist and the reader were drawn up around a campfire with the whole night ahead for stories.... a welcome relief in these often dark times of current fantasy offerings." --TheSilverKey.blogspot.com

 

“Part mystery, part thriller, part adventure, all woven expertly by Jones to create a tapestry of vivid imagery and excitement… The characters are as lively as Leiber’s to be certain and the action is fast-paced and draws you in from page one. This is the kind of pulp adventure novel that ranks ups there with writers like Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy, and H. Rider Haggard. Fun and fresh!” –Mania.com, Grade A 

“The plot is like a roller coaster, going from one turn to another.  The writing is like a love child between Robert Ludlum and Michael Moorcock.  Very exceptional.  If this is the only fantasy book you read this year.  Read this one… Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!” -- fantasydreamer12.wordpress.com

The Desert of Souls is an elegantly written, deftly plotted, scimitar-and-sorcery tale, as colorful and romantic as a Persian carpet, woven with bright, daring exploits, frequent glints of humor, and the darker threads of heartbreak, pathos, and knotty moral quandries. It is a buddy story dressed in turbans and wearing daggers, exploring the burgeoning but sorely tested friendship between the narrator, Asim, a pious, loyal warrior with an unexpected flair for story-telling, and Dabir, the clever problem-solver who cannot resist a puzzle--or the flashing eyes and fine mind of a certain young woman.  Toss in some undead monkeys, a jaded djinn, a feathered serpent who hoards treasure of a most unusual kind, a fortune teller who may--or may not--have mixed up her clients' fortunes, an evil sorcerer corrupted by a lust for revenge, a lost city, a stowaway virgin, magical artifacts, forbidden love, and enough sword-play and suspense to satisfy the most ardent lover of action....drop it into the harsh, fantastical landscape of old Arabia... and you have the critically acclaimed, thoroughly delightful and moving debut novel of Howard Andrew Jones.” -- thestoneriver.blogspot.com

“The Desert of Souls is an engaging, enjoyable read that made me regret putting the book down whenever I had to stop… What I liked most about the book is the prose of Jones. Smooth and effortless, with a definite middle-eastern flair, I fell in love with Jones’s style and his skill at weaving adventure, action, wit, religion, and realism into a cohesive story. It also doesn’t hurt that a good first-person narrative is my favorite kind of story… Howard Andrew Jones has hooked me with a terrific story of middle-eastern adventure, rife with magic, swordplay, and great prose. I hope he decides to write another installment in the same setting with some of the same characters…I for one would look forward to such a tale, and I’m happy to have added The Desert of Souls to my library.” -- hippogriff.wordpress.com

“Like the best stories of Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber, The Desert of Souls wastes no time with extraneous details or self-indulgent digressions, getting straight to the meat of the matter... Jones has succeeded in transporting the reader to another time and place and never once forgets that, first and foremost, this is an adventure novel, not a history text. There's a humility about the book that only added to the book's numerous charms. If, like me, you're not especially taken with contemporary fantasy has on offer, you should definitely take a look at The Desert of Souls. It's a fun read very much in the tradition of the best pulp fantasy but with plenty of unique pleasures owing to its historical and cultural setting.” -- grognardia.blogspot.com

“The Desert of Souls is many things: dark mystery, hard-hitting fantasy, edge-of-seat suspense and swashbuckling adventure. It is written in a fast-paced, page-turning style replete with exotic, historic locales, vivid descriptions and memorable characters… It is no coincidence Howard’s novel pays homage to the legacy of authors like Howard and Lamb. Over the past few years Howard has almost single-handedly resurrected the Sword & Sorcery genre, first as editor of the late Flashing Swords eZine and currently as Managing Editor of Black Gate Magazine. In addition, his painstakingly compiled eight volume collection of stories by prolific pulp author Lamb has made him that author’s premiere scholar, and reintroduced the once popular writer to today’s audience. It is this love of fantasy and exotic history, along with his grand sense of storytelling that has made Howard Andrew Jones a writer to be reckoned with for many years to come.” -- roguebladesentertainment.com

“A rollicking adventure… Howard Andrew Jones has created a masterpiece of entertainment in this journey back in time. Jones's writing style makes one feel as if they're listening to someone with incredible narrative talent telling a story as Asim and Dabir go from hurdle to hurdle, barely making it out alive from some. In Jones's hands, the characters come to vivid life, including the evil wizard, and it's easy to feel as if you've been transported back to early Baghdad as well. The dialogue, and especially the interplay between Asim & Dabir, rings true and speaks to a closeness only seen in strong teams like Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Jones incorporates forbidden romance and other intrigues in this tale and as with all good storytellers, slowly builds up the suspense. Once you get to a certain point, you'll just have to finish this one as there's no setting it down. I've heard rumors that there is a sequel to come, and I hope they're true. For fans of sword and sorcery adventure, this is a don't miss.” –FreshFiction.com

"A fast-paced adventure tale, full of swords and magic and heroism, set in the world of One Thousand and One Nights...I highly recommend this to anybody who likes fun adventure tales made of awesome." --Bureau42.com

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Howard Andrew Jones

  • When not helping run his small family farm or spending time with his amazing wife and children, Howard can be found hunched over his laptop or notebook, mumbling about flashing swords and doom-haunted towers. He has worked variously as a TV cameraman, a book editor, a recycling consultant, and a college writing instructor. He was instrumental in the rebirth of interest in Harold Lamb’s historical fiction, and has assembled and edited 8 collections of Lamb’s work for the University of Nebraska Press. His stories of Dabir and Asim have appeared in a variety of publications over the last ten years, and led to his invitation to join the editorial staff of Black Gate magazine in 2004, where he has served as Managing Editor ever since. He blogs regularly at the Black Gate website.

  • Howard Andrew Jones Bruce Wesley
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    The Desert of Souls

    Desert of Souls

    Howard Andrew Jones

    Locus Awards - Nominee
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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    St. Martin's Griffin

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