Together the poet and the thief encounter a hidden world, of forbidden cults, foreign spies, and a mysterious Brass Bottle. When children start to disappear, it seems that there must be substance to the dark rumours of evil spirits and human sacrifice that haunt the city; but the secrets that Ismail and the Father of Locks uncover are more shocking still.
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The Father of Locks unveils the historical truth behind the Arabian Nights tales, proving that reality can be more fabulous than fantasy. The geographical scope of the stories is impressive from Al-Andalus Iberia to China as is their narrative power. ANALYSIS: What made "The Father of Locks" a book that not only exceeded my high expectations but was also a page turner with scenes that made me roll with laughter, but also melancholic and even philosophic ones?
First and foremost it is the narrative style, which is just pitch perfect Arabian Nights, from the Islamic names in all their complexity - there is an appendix helping the reader figure them out - to the lavish Caliphate descriptions, to the casual violence, explicit sexuality and superb mostly original Arabic and Persian poetry, all elements that are indispensable to any true rendition of the Arabian Nights.
The Harun al-Rashid Baghdad of , so lovingly described here is impressive; while there is poverty, violence, gangs and mischief, there is also a relatively free spirited atmosphere at least as long as the proprieties are publicly followed, the judges are independent, there are libraries and love of learning and of course poetry reigns supreme. The apex of civilization at the time, at least outside of the Chinese Empire of which we get a glimpse too in one of the tales.
Harun himself is both enlightened and capricious, cruel and generous while the enigmatic Jafar rules behind the throne; the scenes with the Caliph and Abu Nuwas are both hilarious and unforgettable and the vanity of the Caliph and his courtiers is shown through lots of small details, but is best seen at the royal hunt which needs to be read to be believed, being described so funnily and spot on In contrast, the uncouth Franks while great warriors and intriguers make a poor showing against their learned Islamic hosts, though their ambassador who is now writing the Hrouodland later known as "Chanson du Roland" epic in Latin verse is quite learned too and has great exchanges with Abu Nuwas.
And to top it all we have Abu Nuwas' "prophetic words" about the Roman Byzantine Empire dying slowly, but the West ie the Franks rising and how one day they will come to "claim our lands" and Ismail renamed Al-Walid Newborn by Abu Nuwas is endearing in his naivete, though he is quite resourceful as befits someone who learned to make his own way from childhood. While more at home with the gangs of teenagers from the city, he manages to acquit himself reasonably well with the high and the mighty, though the mysterious and beguiling Rus warrior-girl from the Frank delegation may be his undoing after all Overall just superb, a novel to enjoy and immerse in as well as hopefully the first of more to come featuring al-Rawia and Abu Nuwas.
Post a Comment. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. In this respect, it shares much with the Middle-Eastern fairy tales of One Thousand and One Nights, which ultimately makes for a rich reading experience and adds great variety and depth to Killeen's novel. The foremost plot involves Abu Nawas, the titular Father of Locks, and his new protege, Ismail, investigating a series of child abductions in the great city of Baghdad at the request of the Wazir.
Abu Nawas and Ismail soon form a Sherlock and Watson relationship: bonding, bickering and saving each other's lives as they encounter numerous adversaries along the way. Those not interested in historical fiction set in ancient Arabia may hesitate to approach such a novel.
However, this is ancient Arabia as directed by Tarantino, containing all the sex, violence and bad language of an episode of The Sopranos. The comparison is particularly fitting as The Father of Locks boasts an equally vast cast of characters, all fully-realised, three-dimensional and a joy to read about.
The frequent poetic verse is also a welcome addition to the narrative. After all, Abu Nawas is one of the most revered poets of his time so the inclusion of poetry is to be expected.
The Father of Locks | D&R - Kültür, Sanat ve Eğlence Dünyası
Killeen's delivery of verse is every bit as accomplished as his prose and this talent, along with his extensive research into this period of history, helps the Birmingham author stand out from his contemporaries. Abu Nawas himself is a superbly layered character - poet, scoundrel, genius, drunk, fighter, bisexual, detective - and deserves his own franchise. Happily, Killeen has already written a follow-up starring Abu Nawas which I will soon be adding to my Kobo. You should too. I heartily recommend this novel.
It is an Arabian delight. Sep 02, Luke rated it liked it. Another day, another Orientalist mystery! Andrew Killeen's book is almost custom-made for the Dedalus imprint, in its exploration of lugubrious living and the nuances of history.
The Baghdad novels of Andrew Killeen
Set in Baghdad largely around AD, this is a very descriptive tale of poetry, rivalry and rooting with its roots in reality. Most of the characters existed, and a glossary at the end of the book provides potted histories of those mentioned. The problem with this book is - like The One Thousand and One Nights which Killeen claims inspires him - its labyrinthine nature.
The plot itself is pretty simple, really: it's a detective story with the titular Father of Locks Abu Nuwas, an historical poet who - here, at least - proves Byron and Shelley didn't have the only dibs on dissolute living and his narrator-cum-sidekick Ismail attempting to solve murders and mysteries. Except the plot is often shuffled off to the side for a round of storytelling and romance - affairs of the zabb, at least, as Killeen coyly styles the multiple penile peregrinations of the piece.
Being dazzled is possibly a desirable outcome in reading. It's just a shame that here it seemed to occur in spite of the plot, rather than because of it. There's a wealth of material here, and the roundabout way of returning - eventually - to the main whodunnit of the piece could be seen as a sterling example of the storyteller's art in full flight.
Except rather than provide a broader view of the land, these continual turns seem to diminish the action. Abu Nuwas is very much a lovable rogue, but the book - curiously, for all its research - seems to leave the tale-telling to go off half-cocked. It's a shame, as there's some excellent characterisation which the book seems desperate to keep just out of reach of the reader. There's a real sense of muddled-headedness which becomes tiring. Consider this a visit to the souk: you probably won't understand a lot of what's going on, and the sensual nature is wonderful - but just keep an eye on where you're going, or you'll be completely lost.
Oct 29, Vivienne rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-mystery , historical-fiction , readathon , tale-with-tale. Last year Andrew Killeen gave a talk at our local library and I quickly fell under the spell of his story-telling skills. There is also a much appreciated listi Last year Andrew Killeen gave a talk at our local library and I quickly fell under the spell of his story-telling skills.
There is also a much appreciated listing of historical characters at the back that I accessed often. I enjoyed this very much and feel that Andrew is one of those rare story-tellers who can with a few words conjure a world in all its aspects and transport me there. The cover art of this novel deserves comment. During his talk I had some discussion with Andrew on the subject of Orientalism, an academic term that refers in part to the romanticism found in certain 19th Century art featuring Middle Eastern subjects.
Andrew was well versed in the issues and shared that he had requested that his publisher not use an Orientalist image for the cover. However, this request wasn't heeded or had been misunderstood. As a result the novel ended up with a cover utilising ' Summary Execution under the Moorish Kings of Grenada ' , a painting by Henri Regnault, a leading French Orientalist. Apr 03, John rated it liked it. Almost written to strict Dedalus guidelines, this is mighty fine Gaiman-ish story-telling in the Nights or Arabian Nightmare style.
The Father Of Locks
Nice to see Islam as civilisation and the Christian West as barbarous, traitorous gits too. Aug 02, carelessdestiny rated it it was amazing Shelves: nicely-plotted. I loved this reckless jumble of stories gathered around a rather perfunctory plot involving child kidnapping and international espionage. It's wildly imaginative with inventively sketched characters and an exotic historical feel - very enjoyable.
Aug 15, Chade66 rated it really liked it Shelves: high-fantasy , middle-east , e-book , read This was an interesting book gifted to by a friend Thanks again! I probably wouldn't have gotten around to this one if he hadn't pushed me to read it. Its middle eastern fantasy, which I haven't read much of and quite the crazy ride. Give it a spin! Feb 18, Alex rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction , owned.