The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams cover
The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri. Illustrated by Daniel Miyares

By Daniel Nayeri
Illustrated by Daniel Miyares
Levine Querido, 2023
213 pages

Ages 8-11

A boisterous yet tender tale set along the Silk Road in the late 11th century begins with an orphaned boy, Omar, rescued from attack by Samir, a merchant traveling as part of a small caravan. As Omar describes him, Samir is a fast-talking, logic-spinning optimist who dreams of great riches. Their fellow travelers soon reveal there are multiple death threats against Samir from angry buyers of his wares. Omar, now called Monkey, negotiates how much his various acts of assistance are worth to Samir as a string of assassins make attempts on Samir’s life. The would-be killers include a Viking Berserker, a Persian dervish, a Chinese poisoner, Bedouin raiders, and a rogue Roman legion, in addition to a mysterious figure known as “Cid.” Colorful characters, vivid settings, high adventure, and surprising twists abound in these delightful tales narrated by Monkey in flashback. Monkey often ruminates on love—inspired by both an ache to belong and his crush on a fellow traveler. And what Monkey says often contradicts what is true, none more than his claims to dislike Samir. The eventual reveal of his audience explains his tactics, and by volume’s end it’s clear that in Samir he has found a family. Occasional full-page paintings enhance a volume concluding with a marvelous author’s note detailing more about the Silk Road, the area where these stories are set (between modern-day Xijian province in China and modern-day Tajikistan), and Samir and Monkey’s Sogdian ethnicity (an ancient Iranian people who were successful merchants). ©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center