cover image The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

Daniel Nayeri, illus. by Daniel Miyares. Levine Querido, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64614-303-0

Orphaned novice monk Omar is saved from stoning at the hands of his order at the start of this cleverly constructed adventure centering two Sogdian protagonists. For the dubious equivalent of six bolts of silk, the monks trade the approximately 12-year-old child to Samir, a savvy traveling merchant known as The Seller of Dreams. As their caravan family travels the Silk Road, moving from caravanserais to cities to oases across the Taklamakan Desert en route to Samarkand, Omar, now called Monkey, observes how Samir’s dealings have earned more enemies than riches. Fearing for his own fate as a series of hired assassins tracks Samir, and beginning to intuit the man’s underlying kindness, Monkey attempts to thwart the killers, each time moving closer to gaining his freedom. Regular acknowledgements of Monkey’s involvement in Samir’s eventual death accompany an ongoing chain of trades and catastrophes, creating page-turning narrative tension. Nayeri blends playful humor, solid pacing, and fully realized characters into a witty, assassin-studded traveler’s yarn that also serves as a memorable, lively portrait of the 11th-century Silk Road. Richly hued art by Miyares and expansive back matter enhance the delight. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Joanne Volpe, New Leaf Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Judy Sue Goodwin Sturges and April Jones Prince, Studio Goodwin Sturges. (Mar.)