Shrine of the Desert Mage

Rated 4.67/5 based on 3 reviews
Volume I of the Parsina Saga. In the Arabian Nights world of Parsina, Jafar the storyteller must escape from the dungeons of the Holy City and outwit the world's mightiest wizard. More
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About Stephen Goldin

STEPHEN GOLDIN is a Nebula Award finalist science fiction and fantasy writer who was born in 1947 in the city of Philadelphia. When he was 13, his parents moved to California and, upon reflection, he decided to accompany them. It was a lucky thing he did, too; otherwise, when he went to college, the commute to UCLA would have been quite difficult. He eventually graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy.

His first job out of college was as a civilian space scientist for the U.S. Navy. The urge to write was strong, though, and after several years he left to try writing full time. He only regretted the move every other Thursday, when he would have gotten paid.

After several years of genteel poverty, he took a job as writer/editor for a pornographic humor paper, the San Francisco Ball. In retrospect, this was a great crucible; because of deadline pressure, he had to learn to make his writing dirty, funny, and one draft.

At about this time, too, he began selling novels on a regular basis. While he has, from time to time, held down other full-time employment (he helped design the Star Trek: The Next Generation computer game "A Final Unity" for Spectrum HoloByte and has also written manuals and game design documents for Maxis), his real love is fiction writing and he continues to pursue it.

His first wife was fellow author Kathleen Sky. Their medieval-style wedding was a Saturday morning program item at the 1972 World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles. In the 10+ years of their marriage, in addition to their individual works, they collaborated on a pair of stories ("Painting the Roses Red" and "The Devil Behind the Leaves") about the diMedicis, a family of interstellar swindlers.

Mr. Goldin's current wife is fellow author Mary Mason. Their wedding took place the night before EclectiCon 1 in Sacramento, at which Mr. Goldin was the Guest of Honor. They currently live in the San Francisco East Bay area. So far they have co-authored two books in the Rehumanization of Jade Darcy series: Jade Darcy and the Affair of Honor and Jade Darcy and the Zen Pirates. More books in this series are planned.

Mr. Goldin is an atheist whose interests include Broadway show albums and surrealist art. He has lived with cats virtually all his adult life.

Mr. Goldin served the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as editor of the SFWA Bulletin and as SFWA's Western Regional Director.

Learn more about Stephen Goldin
About the Series: The Parsina Saga
The Parsina Saga is an Arabian Nights fantasy epic set in a world of djinni, undersea cities, flying carpets, and demons.An impoverished storyteller must masquerade as a powerful wizard to save not only his daughter's life, but the entire world.

Also in Series: The Parsina Saga

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Reviews of Shrine of the Desert Mage by Stephen Goldin

CS Lune reviewed on March 23, 2012

I enjoyed this book very much. I think it was a great journey through Arab-style setting and the immense expanse of desert and magic. The story was good, the descriptive words were captivating, the imagery was well-used, and the metaphors were sort of overused (but I couldn't expect less from a story featuring sages and mages).

The characters were well formed, each with distinct characteristics, personalities, souls, and motivations. I like the characterization and plot development that the story took from its beginnings. It seeped in me a feel of familiarity and growth. As the story progressed, more twists were added to the story, making it an exciting read. Though I must confess that many of the twists and whatnot were kind of predictable. For instance, I knew that Jafar would end up with Cari's ring ten chapters before it actually happened. And that some way or the other, Jafar and Ahmad will end up traveling together. The story, though somewhat original, has a familiar sound from all the fantasy-like stories preceding this one. Though "Shrine of the Desert Mage" has its merits as well.

I didn't like how the first book "ended", like it creates an immediate link to the next installment without giving this installment a proper ending. For example, I don't know what happened to Hakem Rafi and Aeshma other that they escaped. For some reason, at the end of the book, the story shifted and focused more on Ahmad, Umar, Jafar, Selima, and Cari and forgot all about everyone else. One thing that I liked about this story was the objectivity and partiality that the author presented each character, giving the same importance to each one. When I first started reading, I couldn't define who the main characters were because he (the author) wrote of everybody with the same importance.

As for the story, great story, as I mentioned before. For some reason I like Cari the best, and Jafar the least. But that might be because of how Jafar cunningly deceived Cari in the beginning. For the technical part of the writing, I can tell the author did a great job at studying the Middle East and desert-like traditions because the entire book was infused with it. He also used beautiful, artistic, and poetic words to describe many of the settings and instances of the book. I feel that I learned a lot of vocabulary words and customs and traditions from that faraway land.

One thing I was slightly annoyed with was how Umar told Ahmad to recite the origin of Parsina to him. It felt like the author was trying to explain the origins of the world through the mouths of their characters, which I find highly acceptable, but overused by so many authors.

The reason I didn't give this a five star (as I wanted to) was because the story didn't "hook" me. I didn't feel the urge to grab my kindle and read it until I felt satisfied with the amount of reading I did during that determined time, or finished it in one day. However, I do recommend this book.

Well, overall I think this is a great story, beautiful writing style, in-depth analysis and presentation of a totally different culture, and spell-binding story. I will welcome the second installment with much eagerness.
(reviewed 53 days after purchase)
sgunnell reviewed on Feb. 20, 2012
(no rating)
very captivating story...I loved the entire covered a world of wizards, kings, creatures & peasants..I never knew what was going to happen next in the story...hard to put down

I will definitely be waiting for series #2

I would love to have a "Magic carpet", lol

thanks Stephen for allowing me such a great story
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)
Delilah Draken reviewed on Feb. 13, 2012

How to describe this book without starting to sound like an over-enthusiastic fan? Very difficult. Very diffcult indeed.

Just let me tell you this:

If you miss the sound of a storyteller painting a whole universe with the sound of their voice, this is the book for you.

If you yearn for something that is more acoustic dream than readable novel, this book is for you.

If you want to hear a story worthy of Sheherazade's beautiful gift, this book is for you.

If you love a fantasy novel that is more fairy tale than anything else, this book is for you.

And to make this book even better, let someone read it aloud to you or even better just let them tell you the story face to face. For this book, this fabulous fantastically dream-worthy book, is a pleasure to 'listen' to even if you are only reading it with your eyes alone. You will simply hear the storyteller's voice in your head.

Just like in Sheherazade's 1001 Nights...
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)
jodie nielsen reviewed on Feb. 3, 2012

I love love love this story! My only complaint is that the book does not stand well on its own. It is simply the first part to a much longer tale. You will not be able to read this book and not buy the next ones, because it stops right in the middle of the story. What happened to the days you could buy a great big novel and the whole story was there, no matter how many pages it took??

Anyway, lets get back to the book. I think the writing is brilliant! The story is unique (at least for me)and very interesting. The characters are wonderful, the descriptions are amazing! I was caught up from the beginning. I have no idea where this story is going to go or what might happen and I love that in a book. I love the creatures, wizards, kings and peasants. The history and beliefs of these ancient people have me completely captivated.

I will read every story Stephen Goldin writes, no matter how many books are in the series. I think he is that good! Another favorite Stephen in my Authors list!
(reviewed 5 days after purchase)

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