The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

“The first time I was stoned to death by an angry mob, I was not even a criminal.”

What’s the Story?

There are three things that matter in this world: life, death, and love. Life and death are all around us but love is as tenuous as a desert mirage.

 

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri is a love story. But not just any love story. This is a story about family.

 

The orphan Omar is being stoned to death for the first time when a passing merchant intervenes.

After swindling a mob out of their execution, Samir the Seller of Dreams travels the Silk Road with Omar (who he calls “Monkey”) looking to earn his Merchant’s Crown.

 

Unfortunately, selling dreams makes a lot of enemies and they’ve all hired assassins to kill Samir.

 

It’s up to Omar to save his new master and buy his own freedom. But what chance does he have against a Viking berserker, the Rogue Legion, a Persian mystic, an entire Bedouin clan, a Mongolian gunner, and a Chinese ablutionist?

 

Even if Samir and Omar can escape the menagerie of assassins hot on their trail, they will still have to survive the mythic killer known only as “Cid.”

Why is it Great?

Daniel Nayeri’s excellent prose offers many beautifully expressed ideas and quotable passages.

 

Neither does Daniel Nayeri’s humor disappoint. If a secret chess club called “The Brotherhood of the Checkered Pastime” makes you laugh then this book is for you.

 

On his journey, Omar meets Mara, the daughter of the caravan blacksmith, and falls hopelessly in love. “We were almost nose-to-nose. Hers was the most elegant, porcelain thing I have ever seen. Under it were lips. Above it were eyes. Her face seemed to float in a cloud of unknowing. I am still in that yurt, any time I sleep, all this time later.”

 

But, as Omar must learn, “To everyone we love we give a knife.” Don’t be fooled, however, Omar’s story isn’t as cynical as it sounds. While Omar always assumes the worst, this is a story of hope. The Silk Road may be crowded with assassins and tricksters but Omar finds his family, in the end.

 

Omar’s master is a flawed man who makes his living by cheating others. But Samir is not without his virtues, too. “For a short second, I wondered if Samir had ever been a father. I wondered if the reason he loved kids was because his heart had already built a room for them.” To Samir, the caravan is his family and, in his heart, Samir is a family man. He will do anything for those that he loves—even if they are his worst enemy.

 

Omar is an honest boy in a world of thieves. He has a lot to learn but, at the same time, his true heart is his greatest strength. “The problem with tricksters is that they think everyone is playing the same games.”

 

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams is an instant classic written to be enjoyed by everyone from middle-grade to adults. 

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