Title: The Dream of a Thousand Nights
Author: Shira Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Buy Link: Buy Link The Dream of a Thousand Nights
Genre: m/m fantasy romance
Length: novel (206 pdf pages)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Summary Review: This was a nice attempt at an Arabian style fairy tale which ultimately fell flat for me due to too many issues I had.
A Guest Review by Feliz
review contains what might qualify as spoilers
The Blurb: Neriah, the crown prince of Tazier, escapes his father’s deadly wrath with the help of a Jinn named Tamir. Knowing that the other Jinn would find and punish him for falling in love with a human, Tamir takes Neriah’s memories of their brief time together and leaves him with only a jade pendant as a token of his love. Tamir is then stripped of his powers and imprisoned for his crime.
Ten years later, Neriah is still on the run from the King’s assassins, but each night he dreams of a lover whose face he cannot see and whose name he does not know, but who fills his heart with peace. Tamir, freed at last from his prison cell, poses as a pleasure slave and offers to serve the prince. Although Neriah does not recognize Tamir, he falls in love with the powerless Jinn. But just when Tamir has earned Neriah’s trust, he is forced to betray it. There may be no hope of mending their broken relationship, but Tamir is determined to see Neriah on his rightful throne—even if it costs the Jinn his life.
This book was hard to rate for me, since I really, really wanted to like it and still ended up being unable to. Might’ve been only me, but I stumbled upon some of my pet peeves here which ultimately left me underwhelmed by this book.
On the one hand, it had many elements I’m usually very fond of. The setting alone – I adore the Arabian Night fairytales, which was one of the reasons I grabbed this book as soon as I had the chance. Then the premise – I like angst, and I like forced separations of lovers and romantic and/or passionate reunions – which, as I can say without getting ahead of myself, this book both has in spades. I also found it fairly well-written, consistent in its language – the narrative smooth and rather modern, while the dialogue sounds slightly oldfashioned, in tune with the setting. There were parts I liked well enough, for example the dreams Neriah had, or the jinn world and philosophy, or later in the book, the matureness with which Neriah came to terms with Tamir’s decision. And I loved Kuri, she was one tough-as-nails lady and the best “big sister” Tamir could have wished for.
Unfortunately, there was a big but, several actually. For one, there were a number of “huh?” moments that threw me out of the story, the biggest of which occured right at the beginning and sat in the back of my mind like a nagging little burr.
When we first meet Neriah, he’s a sixteen year old boy on the run from his father’s guards who have just murdered his mother, the king’s favorite. He literally escaped with the clothes on his back, jumped to his near-death from the palace walls, only saved by a pair of young jinns, Tamir and Kuri, who took him in and healed him. (btw, Neriah is unawares of Tamir being a jinn, but when Tamir tells him “your body has been mended”, Neriah doesn’t so much as bat an eyelash, but takes the news just like that…)
Next thing we see is Neriah marching on his father’s town with an army of his own some ten years later. Not a word about how Neriah managed to gather an army, how he came by his followers at all, and most of all, how he came by the wealth that is mentioned several times in the further course of the story. Even though it’s supposed to be a fairytale, this unanswered mystery bothered me to no end throughout the story.
Next, there’s Neriah’s and Tamir’s first reunion. I beg to keep in mind that, as it says in the blurb, Neriah has no memories of Tamir left. So all Neriah can see is a slave his men freed from an enemy camp, a man who could just as well be a spy or a mortal enemy for all he knows. And what does he do, this able warlord and leader of men? He sends his men away and, within minutes after “first” meeting him, requires a blow job from the “slave”. (I couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of bringing something as tender as a dick near the teeth of a possible enemy…)
Neriah seems unable to decide if he can trust Tamir or not. While the warlord finds himself unable to resist the sexual attraction (which is understandable since Tamir used to be a jinn, and humans are supposed to be unable to resist a jinn’s sexual lure), he keeps Tamir bound, even makes him ride with bound hands. It seemed to me as if this element was only there to add a little bondage to their sex, since Tamir can otherwise move freely among Nariah’s men, even train swordplay with them. To me, this didn’t make much sense. Furthermore, even though Neriah expresses his distrust toward Tamir more than once, he keeps the presumptive slave in his inner circle, asks and heeds his advice, as do his men. And while I could relate well enough to Tamir’s motives for following Neriah and loving him (which were perfectly appropriate for a fairytale), the way Neriah took a one-eighty with Tamir took me by surprise.
Anyway, Neriah. During the first third to first half of the book, I found he acted quite different from what we’re told all around he’s supposed to be like: wise, independent, self-confident – instead, he acts mostly arrogant,haughty and quite whimsical so I couldn’t help wondering how he could inspire loyalty in his followers. He redeemed himself later, but I found him so annoying that I would’ve stopped reading by then if I hadn’t read this for a review.
My next but was the sheer amount of drama in here. As I said above, I like angst, but not for its own sake. Forced separation, self-sacrifice, having to watch one’s lover experience sexual pleasure with someone else, guilt, remorse, an oath of celibacy after presumably losing the love of one’s life forever, a number of dramatic reunions – those two have to go through a lot, not to mention watching one’s mother murdered by one’s own father, exile, several mortal wounds that can only be healed by supernatural powers (which, conveniently, are always just handy, as this is a fairytale, after all …), incarceration, torture… it was a bit much.
So, no, this book was not for me, even though I enjoyed parts of it. I beg to keep in mind that mine is only one opinion; others may very well be able to lose themselves in the colorful magic of the setting and not be bothered at all by the things that bothered me. Guess you’ll have to find out for yourself.