The Scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones chronicles 11-year old Zagora Pym as she traverses the Sahara, a milieu scuttling with scorpions, raging with desert warriors, and surging with a centuries-old clash between good and evil. Aiding Zagora in her quest, pals Mina and Razziq, along with dorky brother Duncan, batter down doors, brandish torches, and brawl with hyenas in their crusade to return the sacred Oryx Stone to its rightful place: atop the centuries-old Pyramid of Xuloc. With the menacing blue planet Nar Azrak hurtling towards earth and the Oryx Stone in a mad scientist's clutches, Zagora and her buds race against time to halt the Time of Scorpions before its too late.
The Sahara blazed across my mind's eye with Brodein-Jones's breathtaking imagery. The Scorpions of Zahir's pacing, like Zagora's desert expedition, starts out leisurely before plunging the reader into chaos; though a bit plodding at the outset, before I knew it I was whirling along on a hair-raising adventure. Brodien-Jones's Morroco has a richness of detail in which the reader can luxuriate, and the plot enthralled me with its complexity. Though chilling, the chief antagonist pursued her goal with such passion that at times I found myself cheering her on. I have a few small quibbles with the wording (you don't need to specify Nar Azrak had an unearthly glow, that's implied by it's being a planet other than earth),but thankfully these didn't make The Scorpions of Zahir any less of a vividly imagined thrillride.