Staying on the theme of stories based around Middle Eastern culture, I recently read A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. A unique re-telling of the classic A Thousand and One Nights, Johnston gives the base story a little bit of magic and weaves together a prose that kept me turning pages late into the night.
A powerful king named Lo-Melkhiin has taken three hundred brides. Each bride dies after a short time, sometimes the same night as the wedding. When the narrator sees the dust cloud in the distance, she knows Lo-Melkhiin has come to find his newest bride in her village. Knowing that her sister is the loveliest, the narrator sacrifices herself to Lo-Melkhiin. Before she leaves, her sister promises to make the narrator into a small god. Slowly word of the narrator’s sacrifice spreads throughout the villages, and by the time she reaches Lo-Melkhiin’s palace, the narrator has power of her own. She uses her power to spin stories and fight the dark power surrounding Lo-Melkhiin.
The most interesting thing about this novel, in my opinion, is the lack of names for everyone except for Lo-Melkhiin. Despite nobody else being named, I didn’t notice it until I was nearly finished the novel. There is never any confusion as to who the character is talking about, and gives excellent commentary into who is really remembered in history and tales; the powerful men. But this book is about the anonymous players, the ones who really matter.