📕 What It's About
Long ago in Cairo, a man named al-Jahiz, erased the lines that separated the extra-ordinary and the ordinary worlds before disappearing into nothing but a legend. al-Jahiz became one of the most famous people in history. Now, Djinn and humans walk, work, and live among one another in relative harmony.
Every member of a secret brotherhood dedicated to the work of al-Jahiz was murdered in what’s described as a smokeless fire. Whoever committed this crime has claimed that they are al-Jahiz returned and plan on punishing the world for its social tyranny and lost ways.
A Master of Djinn follows Fatma, a young, experienced agent in the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, who’s called on to investigate the case.
I’ve read The Black God’s Drums, which is an award-winning novella by the author and I didn’t love it. I thought it was good but it didn’t pull me in like A Master of Djinn did.
This one is much more up my alley. A mash-up of mechanical angels, djinn, Egyptian mythology, and magic. What’s not to love here? Speaking of the djinn, in particular, I loved how they were presented.
Folks who aren’t into Islamic folklore would probably assume a djinn is like the genie from Aladdin. Djinn are very clever with their words, can take the shape of a human or an animal, and can practice free will. They can be evil or good. A Master of Djinn did a splendid job of showing a wide variety of djinn possibilities.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable read and will probably be one of my favorites based solely on the subject matter.
What I Liked About It
A Master of Djinn has some great characters. They weren’t super deep and complex but they were very interesting. The mechanical angels, Ahmed the high priest of Sobek, Siti the lioness and follower of Sehkmet, and Hadia, Fatma’s partner who turns out to me be a badass.
Another thing I liked was the pacing. It didn’t feel too fast or too slow.
What I Didn't Like About It
The ending was lackluster to me. Throughout the whole book, you start to get an understanding of how powerful and destructive these mysterious things called The Ifrit are. They've been asleep for a mighty long time and they can easily bring the World to dust.
But when the protagonist is finally confronted by them, she lives? I have to mention that Fatma is a mortal, she’s just a human being.
I found it hard to believe that she would live through meeting them.
Then again.. it is a science-fiction, fantasy novel about djinn, magic, and angels.
Ahmad. The high priest of Sobek was a great character and my favorite. He’s mysterious, weird, and would randomly pop up out of nowhere to check in on Fatma and her progress with the mission (which he had a vested interest in).
As the book progressed, Ahmad slowly started getting crocodilian features which further added to his mystique. Easily a standout character for me.
“Unlike the young,” Khalid continued, “I know the difference between what I want, what I need, and what might just kill me.
The world sits at a precipice. Our ability to create has exceeded our ability to understand.
“No one knows,” Maker put in. “My predecessor had nefarious designs for its intent. I fear little else from this imposter. Leader is correct, the machine should be … unmade.” The last word sounded almost foreign to her.
This last line stood out to me because there’s a mechanical angel named Maker. One can assume that their life is dedicated and revolves around making things. Creating things. P. Djèlí Clark did a great job displaying invoking empathy here.
🦉Who Would Like It?
If you’re even remotely interested in Egyptian mythology and are up for a good mystery book, this is for you. It’s not often that you get a book that’s filled with djinn and they certainly shine in A Master of Djinn.