I’m a sucker for a good novel with an Arabian Nights twist.
So I’m currently reading Graham Diamond‘s Captain Sinbad, a smart, highly entertaining historical fantasy adventure which supposedly tells us the “true story” of the Arabian Nights character and his travels around the Mediterranean, Medieval Europe and the Near East.
Now, I’ve always loved Sinbad – first discovered in old Technicolor adventure movies (Douglas Fairbanks!), the Fleischer Popeye cartoon (wonderful!) then through repeated readings of the Arabian Nights*, and Tim Severin‘s The Sindbad Voyage.
Sinbad is the quintessential adventurer, sort of a quirkier, oriental Ulysses.
In Diamond’s novel he’s a smooth talking adventurer with an heroic streak and an eye for the ladies (that seem to reciprocate his attentions), and his travels bring him in contact with a number of historical and fictional characters, Flashman-style.
While ironic in tone, the novel never derails into farce/satire territory, and it is turning out to be a very refreshing read.
As usual when I chance on a good book I’m torn between the need to slow down in order to make a good thing last longer, and the urge to read on as fast as possible to see what happens next.
Thankfully, a quick web search tells me quite a few of Diamond’s works are being reissued – including the cult classic Haven.
A prolific writer, Diamond wrote more Arabian adventure novels – with titles like Marrakesh and Samarkand – that alas are apparently harder to find and go for frivolous prices.
But I’ll surely be on the lookout for more stories from this author – while also being on the lookout for more Arabian Nights-inspired contemporary fantasy/SF/adventure fiction.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff, out there.
* hmmm – about time I read it again
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