The Nazrani son

With slight presumptions, anticipation and foresight, I was able to finish the book and at the same time enjoy the wildest ride (so far for my A-Z challenge) into the unknown territory not very far from real history of Espionage, WWII, and Roman Catholicism in this speculative fiction masterfully crafted by Tim Powers.

PhotobucketThis book won in 2001 the World Fantasy Award and the  International Horror Guild Award but sadly due to a technical matter was adjudged ineligible for a nomination in the Nebula Award for best novel. Still, I'm glad to find a novel that blended speculative fiction with historical fantasy and espionage adventure into one delicious meal for a book eater like me. It scored highly on the creative/original criteria due to Powers' imaginative storytelling and at the same time also believable due to Power's extensive research in the secret history of Europe, Catholicism, and the Middle East.

Personally, I like it better than Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons. There's no assumption or imposition that the West is always better and good than the East. Unlike other popular espionage and action novels (Tom Clancy's, Robert Ludlum's) CIA was never involved in the story and there's no boasting of who owns the technological edge in any geopolitical warfare. Tim Powers does not demonize any ideologies even if he realistically depicts the politics and jealousies surrounding the world of espionage. The adventure scenes are thrilling as your imagination travels before and after WWII, from England to France, Russia to Egypt and even from the scorching lands of the Middle East to the high glaciers of Turkey where Noah's Ark took refuge. And thankfully, there's no stupid character in the novel. You just go with the story, go with the flow, the step by step revealing of an ancient history as old as the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh and the Catholic's First Testament.

The author's careful usage of flashbacks and fast forwards does not kill the narrative but highly charges the anticipation of the reader. The author does not exaggerate romantic liaisons and allows the reader to focus on the mystery of the Big Picture as Powers introduce characters and historical persons in the world of espionage (who are also equally mysterious due to their dangerous background).

In this novel, not just countries but supernatural beings were involved in the Second World War. Historical clues of their existence were actually evident into what we see, hear, and read today but we have no idea that myths and legends (i.e. historical allegories) have their real and factual origins highly different to the popularized story we know.

If you are curious to read a cross-genre fiction this year and if you like espionage, I recommend this book. And you will surely know who really is the son of Nazrani.

random passages:

"The mountain does not belong to Armenia," said Fuad. "It is in Turkey. Why do you Armenians have it on your coat-of-arms?"
"Does the moon belong to Turkey?" asked Mammalian. "It is in your flag." 

"I believe Russia has a... a primitive guardian angel, which must be denied at every turn; and those who persist in loving the angel, and merit her special assistance, must be killed---ideally after they have given their full measure of acceptable benefits to the Party, and not one benefit more."

"Allah knows that djinn and ghosts without number clustered around our fires when you and I perfumed the desert with tobacco smoke," bin Jalawi protested. 

Rating: 4.5 drogue stones out of 5
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Sci Fi, Historical Fantasy, Espionage

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