The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

The Many Assassinations of Samir by Daniel Nayeri


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

Orphaned Omar vows to purchase his freedom from his kind but dishonest master, Samir. Each time he saves Samir’s life, Omar inches closer to freedom. Yet, the young orphan recognizes his hard work will only matter if he’s still standing when the fighting is over.

Plot Summary

Orphaned Omar is running for his life, dodging the rocks that pagan monks, his former guardians, are hurling at him. A merchant stops the monks from killing Omar by purchasing the orphan with six bolts of silk.

Omar quickly learns his new master, Samir, is far from honest. As Samir plies his goods, and the caravan of merchants makes its way along the Silk Road, each person seeking fortune, Omar learns his cheerful master’s dealings have gotten them all in serious trouble. Many assassins have been hired to kill Samir as revenge for his swindling.

Omar, now 12 and renamed Monkey, wants to regain his freedom instead of being tethered to such a dishonest man. The orphan dreams of finding someone to love and having a family to call his own. However, Samir’s demise wouldn’t free Omar. He would be simply be owned by another merchant—the sour-tempered Rasseem, the exotic bird seller.

Instead of letting assassins kill Samir, Omar vows to purchase his freedom by earning bolts of silk for saving Samir’s life. However, the more assassins that come for Samir, the more Omar ponders the nature of his master—and the more he wonders if they will survive.

Christian Beliefs

Omar mentions God and prays, but it’s unclear what god he is referring to. Christianity, Judas, the Garden of Eden, angels, demons, Noah and Gabriel are all mentioned.

Other Belief Systems

The monks who try to stone Omar believe in a fire god. Temples, Judaism, Islam, Allah, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, magic, astrologers, mystics and folktales are all mentioned.

Authority Roles

An old widow takes the orphaned Omar in, but she soon dies. The pagan monks shelter Omar next but try to stone him when he asks a question that challenges their beliefs. Samir purchases Omar to keep the monks from stoning him. Samir is dishonest, but ultimately proves to be a kind master.

Profanity & Violence

Drinking is mentioned and characters get drunk. Many assassins chase Samir. A Viking licks some “insanity herbs” to prepare for battle. He tries to kill Samir with a sword, destroying a great deal of property in the process. An innkeeper makes a profane gesture. A Mongolian gunner hurls explosive objects and shoots arrows at Samir, Omar and their party. Omar shoves the gunner off a cliff, causing him to break an arm and a leg. Cursing, smoking and gambling are mentioned. A Chinese abolitionist tries to poison Samir but ends up poisoning himself instead. One raider cuts off the dead abolitionist’s ear and gives it to Omar. Bedouin raiders throw knives at Samir and Omar. Omar pretends to cut off Samir’s ear and stab him. A rockslide almost kills Samir and Omar. Rasseem is eaten by a mountain lion.

Sexual Content

Omar has a crush on a girl named Mara and holds her hand.

Discussion Topics

Read Ephesians 2:10 and Proverbs 19:1. Samir lies about his religion and history to try to get people to like him and make good trades with him. Do you ever lie or try to change things about yourself to make others like you? What should you do instead?

Why do you think Omar kept saving Samir’s life even though he was frustrated by the way Samir would cheat and lie? Would you have done the same thing?

Omar had to stay positive even though his situation was discouraging and scary. Are you usually positive or negative? Do you think your attitude honors God?

Get free discussion questions for books at

Additional Comments

This book has plenty of problematic content and material that might be too mature for some readers. However, the nature of characters such as Samir could spark interesting discussions about the complicated nature of people and morality in general, given that he is both very kind and incredibly dishonest.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Rachel Pfeiffer