Sinbad the Sailor: Another fine installment in the MYTHS AND LEGENDS series

Sinbad the Sailor (Myths and Legends) Kindle Edition by Phil Masters  (Author), RU-MOR (Illustrator) fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSinbad the Sailor by Phil Masters fantasy book reviewsSinbad the Sailor by Phil Masters

I’ve read a good numbers of titles in Osprey Publishing’s MYTHS AND LEGENDS series and while the individual books vary in quality, that variation runs between good and excellent, making the series as a whole top notch. My latest read, Sinbad the Sailor, by Phil Masters, continues the positive run, falling somewhere in the middle of its predecessors.

The bulk of the book is a retelling of Sinbad’s seven voyages (including an alternate seventh voyage), keeping the original frame of Sinbad the Sailor telling the story to Sinbad the Porter, his poorer namesake. The retellings are solid, if not particularly enthralling. I would have liked more of a sense of voice for Sinbad, but they move quickly and fluidly. You can’t fault Masters for some of the repetition in the tales; they are what they are, and since they almost certainly came out of the oral folk tale tradition, the repetition is a typical element. Those wholly unfamiliar with Sinbad will come away with a sense of adventure, while others who might be more familiar with the most commonly recognized elements — the Roc for instance — might be pleasantly surprised by some smaller points.

An introduction explains the possible origins of the Sinbad tales and also traces how they might have become mixed up with the 1001 Nights. The sidebars, an integral part of the MYTHS AND LEGENDS titles, do a nice job of explaining how the tales show various aspects of Muslim life, comparing these tales to perhaps better-known Western legends, and making some real-world connections to story elements. After the stories comes a section concisely detailing some important Arabic/Persian history so as to put the tale in context. Included in this segment is a description of medieval Baghdad, an explanation of the caliphate with particular focus on Haroun al-Rashid, some details on Arabic sea-faring and trade and a look at Ibn Battuta, whose real life was somewhat analogous to Sinbad’s. Following this section is a very brief look at Sinbad’s appearance in modern literature and especially in film.

As always, the artwork is an important part of the book, and is made up of reprints of historical works, original illustrations, useful maps, and photographs. Some other titles have better artwork overall, but standouts in this title include an original two-page spread by illustrator Ru–Mor of Sinbad’s ship being swamped by a sea monster they’d taken to be an island and several Dore reprints.

Informative, quick-moving, smooth flowing, nicely illustrated — Sinbad the Sailor is yet another fine installment in this highly recommended series.

September 23, 2014. Sinbad the Sailor presents a retelling of the stories of the most famous adventurer from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, with added information covering the history of the stories and the age in which they are set. Stories say that in the age of the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid, in the port city of Basra, there lived a wealthy man named Sinbad the Sailor. Sinbad had great tales to tell, of the seven voyages on which he acquired his fortune, of the strangeness and terror he encountered along the way, of huge monsters and strange people, and of storms at sea and lands beyond the horizon. This book retells the tales of those voyages and places them in context. It discusses not only the greater collection of stories known as One Thousand and One Arabian Nights within which Sinbad appears, but medieval Cairo where these tales were told, the historical Abbasid Dynasty which ruled Sinbad’s home city, and the great Arabian voyages of exploration and trade which inspired these stories. It also looks at the modern incarnations of Sinbad that have appeared since his tales reached the West – including Sinbad as the swashbuckling hero of stage plays, stop-motion movies, and television fantasy.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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