Warning Might contain spoilers.

This book is a mixed bag. The concept is interesting. It’s fascinating to read about this period, these regions, and these cultures. I enjoyed the picture the story painted. Idris himself is a compelling mélange of characteristics—and an obvious Marty Stu, but that isn’t a problem. The descriptions of food made my mouth water even though I doubt I’d eat most of it!

However, the writing is slightly awkward and it’s not quite a story: there is only a beginning followed by a series of ostensibly related vignettes. It lacks an ending. Instead, it leaves Idris at a crossroads with no indication that anything in him is different, despite having spent the entire book telling us his son changed him.

Loose threads abound. The opening scene and the repeated descriptions of Idris suggest something mythical, mystical, and momentous, but nothing of the sort ever manifests. The sex scenes are uncomfortable, as if the writer felt obligated to include them. I couldn’t shake the strange feeling that I was seeing female characters through a male lens.