Sentenced to death in the desert, the concubines of a fallen sultan instead free themselves and evade the pursuit of the fanatical new ruler of their city, Hakkim Mehdad. Out of nothing, they and their allies – robbers and storytellers, a librarian, a female assassin – found a new city in the desert, the fabled City of Women.
The three Careys – Mike, Linda, and Loiuse, have written a vibrant, colourful, page-turner of an adventure with passion and care. Filled with drama, romance, and humour, it is overlain with a wry, observational wit that can spare a morsel of compassion for the complex and conflicted enemies of freedom and reason that the women and their male allies must overcome.
I found each character memorable, whole, and altogether believable. Mike, Linda, and Louise have created a terrific cast of complex, conflicted heroines and heroes, wicked zealots and self-serving opportunists – and everything in between.
This is a lovely book, magical and earthy, and is beautifully illustrated by Nimit Malavia. The Steel Seraglio is a tale from a once and future Arabia of fountained courtyards, silks, and jewels – and parched lips, burning heat, thieves, honour, and betrayal. A story of love and madness, hate and obsession. At times it feels more as if these stories and people are real rather than invented, and their world a country you could, by taking the right turn at the right place and time, step into.
You might even want to.
Anyone who enjoys well-written fantasy with a human touch will enjoy this delightful book.
It’s great. You really should read it.
The Steel Seraglio
Mike Carey, Linda Carey, & Louise Carey
Chizine Press, 2012