East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Graham_Diamond_Samarkand_new_editionI was quite happy to discover that recently launched British publisher Venture Press is going to reissue, in ebook format, a fair chunk of Graham Diamond‘s catalog.

Born in Manchester in 1949, Diamond started in fantasy and science fiction, to move later to many other genres.
But I am really interested in his earlier works.
I mentioned his quite entertaining Captain Sinbad when I read it last year.
And now, thanks to the Venture reprints, I’m having lots of fun with another of the earlier works of Graham Diamond – Samarkand.
Could I resist a book with such a title?

Originally published in 1980, Samarkand is a fast-paced historical fantasy, somewhat reminiscent, in its general setup, of the historical adventure yarns of Harold Lamb.
There’s also a certain David Gemmell vibe that is not bad – but Diamond is a more sophisticated author than Gemmell.

51iT9llBm3LThe fabled city of Samarkand, crossroads of the world, is threatened by the advancing Mongolian hordes. When the fight reaches the walls of the city, a young woman escapes to the hill – to become the answer to an ancient prophecy and a leader in the war.

Tightly plotted and action-driven, the novel is a lean, fast read, and a highly satisfactory one.
Adventure, magic, the right balance of history and imagination.
Characters are quickly sketched but have depth enough to engage the reader – they are people about which we care.

All in all, a good way to spend two hours before bedtime in the last few days.
And there’s a sequel, called Samarkand Dawn – which is high in my reading list, together with a few other titles by Diamond.
Sometimes we are lucky, and we find an author we’ll be willing to follow anywhere.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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