Author Haber (The Somali Pirate, 2009, etc.) presents a political thriller and war fantasy–cum–sci-fi dreamscape that follows the adventures of modern-day Somali pirate Noor Fayrus.
Navigating the waters near the Horn of Africa, Noor Fayrus leads the Dagger Dogs of Zayid in an operation to take back the capital city of Mogadishu, which is overrun by warlords, Islamic radicals and Western-backed militias. The goal is to establish a modern state based on piracy that will avenge the wrongs committed against the Somali people. How else can the Zayid (also known as “the Organization”) exact retribution against those who’ve overfished Somali waters, dumped nuclear and toxic waste on its shorelines, and meddled in their governmental affairs? But will the Zayid stop at Somalia’s borders or use its arsenal of nuclear warheads, high-tech weaponry and new piracy methods to extend its far-reaching tentacles? And what role will Noor play as the truth emerges about his supernatural condition? When Noor and his sister Amina learn they are suffering from radiation poisoning and have to take an experimental serum (“antibaayootig”), Noor reveals his stigmata and star-shaped chest tattoo, which become bioluminescent after he absorbs too much serum. Later, after surviving a brush with lightning during a helicopter crash, Noor’s electromagnetic energy field changes, and he discovers that the excess serum brings forth supernatural powers, including the ability to hurl lightning at his enemies. But will Noor use his supernatural powers for good purposes or seek to extend the White Star Empire? These complex plot points serve to hook the reader by the novel’s midpoint, and indeed, the first half of the tale functions well both as a stand-alone novel and final installment in the trilogy, offering insights about Somali culture, unconventional justifications for Somali piracy and just the right touch of fantasy. However, the second half falters when it transmogrifies into a grotesque sci-fi nightmare three centuries into the future, complete with robots, zombies and flying cars. Cryogenically frozen, characters awaken 324 years later as batlike zombies or modified robots, and Mogadishu is the most successful city in the world. Huh? More than 100 images are included to help tell the story, but by the end, little could help this story that has lost its way. Ultimately, the author tells two stories: the first, a meaty and realistic picture of war and piracy on the east African coast, the second, a strange mix of science fiction that lurches so abruptly from the early story it may cause whiplash.
An unbalanced dual narrative.