Title: Nomad’s Dream
Author: August Li
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary, Paranormal
Page Count: 192
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Two men, each with a hidden destiny. Can they defeat a web of deceit and dark magic to ensure their fates intertwine?
Bedouin Isra al-Grayjaab’s dreams lead him to Janan, an amnesiac beggar on the street of Qena—one who steals his heart and starts him on a seemingly hopeless quest. With only their wits, Isra’s knowledge of the desert’s secrets, and the aid of a mercurial djinn, they must recover Janan’s past. But neither can predict his true identity or the lengths others will go to see that his mind remains broken and his true power out of his reach.
In a sweeping romantic adventure that takes them across the Eastern Desert to the modern streets of Cairo and on to the luxurious Red Sea Coast, Janan and Isra seek a truth that will either bring them into each other’s arms or tear them apart forever.
This was a book that I struggled to complete. It’s not that the story is particularly bad. There is a clear plot that is understandable and sensible, the problem is in the other major building blocks. Characterization is weak. Individual characters are effectively described but their personalities are wooden, all thought processes are moralistic and quite one-dimensional. They are pleasant enough but there is an insufficient richness to make them interesting. The afrit/jinn character is present throughout and seems to be there as a partial facilitator of actions but also has a role as the voice outside of religion. The two lead characters represent cultural ideals of enlightenment of traditional Bedouin and modern Arab views with strong religious overtones. The plot reflects the same idealistic sentiment and drifts forwards without any real tension despite the fact that there are so many aspects of the story that in another context would result in a lot more angst.
The story is about the revelation of who one of the central characters really is and who was responsible for taking away his identity. The plot takes a long while to get there and the uses a magic-driven battle as the denouement. Sadly, the revelation of the baddy and his comeuppance is not particularly exciting and could easily have been done without the magic at all.
The relationship between the two lead characters is similarly disappointing. They are supposed to be moralistic, strong independent characters but there is no emotional growth throughout. They come together; have instant affinity and fall into a relationship without any real hang-ups. Similarly, their relationship seems to have very little impact culturally and they sail through various encounters where their bond is facilitated rather than hampered.
There is no noticeable heat going on, they get emotionally aroused and clearly, there is sex, but it is all handled through ‘fade to grey’. The emotions seem to be affection and a sort of platonic love, but there is no sense of passion.
The story moves steadily from scene to scene, but with no tension, there is nothing to drive it forward at more than a sedate pace.
One of the key themes within the story is about the differences between the two worlds of Bedouin and modern Arab as typified by the two lead characters. However, once all of the other issues are neatly resolved and all that is left are these two characters, the resolution of this tale is a compromise. This is not really surprising, given what has gone before, but there is always the hope that something with a little more substance could have been provided.