Middle Eastern sword-and-sorcery debut and first of a series.
In 8th-century Baghdad, young Jaffar the vizier grows bored and decides to adventure anonymously into the city's less salubrious quarters; he will be accompanied by guard captain Asim and scholar Dabir. To their astonishment, a bleeding man falls dying at their feet, hotly pursued by two sinister figures who claim the man is a thief. Indeed, the now dead man was carrying an ancient, inscribed gold door-pull of which Dabir immediately takes possession; the murderers, for so they turn out to be, vanish. Able to translate the inscription, Dabir declares the object to be a means to open a magical doorway—but located in the marvelous bejeweled city of Ubar, long destroyed and forgotten beneath the desert sands. However, the murderers—Diomedes, a Greek sorcerer and spy, and Firouz, a vengeful fire wizard of the Magi—soon recover the object by magical means and swiftly exit Baghdad. Jaffar dispatches Asim, Dabir and a contingent of guards to recover the door-pull. Not only must they trail the elusive and highly dangerous thieves, they also must learn the whereabouts of lost Ubar, figure out what Firouz intends and then stop him. Anachronisms and all, the ambiance captures much of the civilized, tolerant spirit of the ancient caliphate. The rest is Middle East lite, with a serviceable plot, few claims to originality and appealing odd-couple protagonists in Asim and Dabir.
Sufficiently involving to keep readers coming back for more.