With a Golden Risha — P. Djèlí Clark

With a Golden Risha, written by P Djèlí Clark.Available in the periodical, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly — Issue 23.

To begin, a risha is to an Arabian oud as a plectrum is to a guitar.   If you want to know more you can read all about ouds and rishas by clicking here.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get to a review.

Great book.   This is early Djèlí introducing steampunk elements into his fantasy.   Our story begins with our oud player, Saleh, getting rescued by a philosopher pirate (captain who’s not a captain), Usman, and the rest of the crew of the airship The Beggar.   Then we’re off on a 537-kindle-loc-point adventure to find treasure, amongst which is a magical golden risha with which Saleh gets to play his oud.

I really enjoyed this book and hopefully, one fine day in the future, Djèlí might even sit down and write some more stories with Saleh and Usman.   There’s got to be some great stories to be told about a philosopher pirate captain and his side-kick minstrel oud player.

And so, next up in my Djèlí reading list will be The Things My Mother Left Me

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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Steampunk! — Anthology

Some Fortunate Future Day — Cassandra Clare
The Last Ride of the Glory Girls — Libba Bray
Clockwork FaginCory Doctorow
Seven Days Beset by Demons — Shawn Cheng
Hand in Glove — Ysabeau S. Wilce
The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor — Delia Sherman
Gethsemane — Elizabeth Knox
The Summer People — Kelly Link
Peace in Our Time — Garth Nix
Nowhere Fast — Christopher Rowe
Finishing School — Kathleen Jennings
Steam Girl — Dylan Horrocks
Everything Amiable and Obliging — Holly Black
The Oracle Engine — M. T. Anderson

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The Black God’s Drums — P. Djèlí Clark

Take some super good fantasy with a good African/Caribbean flavour, season with a nice hint of steampunk, and bake slowly for a few of hours in an althist New Orleans: what more can you ever want from a book?

This good length novella is from around the same time as Djèlí was writing the Dead Djinn series, and with all of these stories you really pick up on the time in Djèlí’s writing that he begins to introduce steampunk elements into his unique and wonderful style of fantasy.

A really well written, really enjoyable read.

For my next P. Djèlí Clark story, i’m going back in time.   I managed to track down some earlier stories of his that i missed: gotta read them all.   First up of those will be The Things My Mother Left Me.

Djèlí’s Page

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Clockwork Cairo — Anthology

The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was and the Cat in the Jar — Gail Carriger – 2014
The Angel of Khan el-KhaliliP. Djeli Clark – 2017
Mock The Midnight Bell — Sarah Caulfield – 2017
Worthless Remains — Jonathan Green – 2006-2017
The Lights of Dendera — Tiffany Trent – 2017
Ushabti — Zan Lee – 2017
Thermodynamics; and/or The Remittance Men — Chaz Brenchley – 2017
Lucky At Cards — David Barnett – 2017
Sun River — Nisi Shawl – 2017
The Sun Shall Lie Across Us Like Gold — Benjanun Sriduangkaew – 2017
The Word of Menamhotep — George Mann – 2017
Silver LiningsTee Morris & Pip Ballantine – 2014
Antonia and Cleopatra — Matthew Bright – 2017
The Museum of Unlikely Survivors — Rod Duncan – 2017
Jabari and the Giant — Christopher Parvin – 2017
To Kill A God — M.J. Lyons – 2017
The Infernal — Anne Jensen – 2017
Imhotep’s Dog — John Moralee – 2017
But For The Pieces He Left Behind — E. Catherine Tobler – 2017
The Copper Scarab — K. Tempest Bradford – 2017

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The Windup Girl — Paolo Bacigalupi

This book is awful.

Well, at least the first 12% of it was.   It was so awful that i really just couldn’t be bothered to wade through any more of the trudging, depressing, miserable writing.   I feel i gave it a fair go because if a writer can’t sort his mess out in the first 12% of a book then the book can be deleted as far as i’m concerned.

All we get are depressing characters that you really have no inclination for any level of empathy towards, you just wish they’d all go away and someone interesting turn up, but no one does.   Just miserable, depressing people who drink alcohol and smoke and live in a kind of steampunk dystopia which hasn’t been explained as to how all this mess came about.   In fact, it all just feels totally messy, disjointed and made up by someone who really hasn’t made any attempt at understanding whatever genre this is supposed to be.

So, at the end of 12%, NO THANK YOU!


Paolo’s Page

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A Master of Djinn — P. Djèlí Clark

Carrying straight on from where The Haunting of Tram Car 015 left off, with all our favourite characters involved, this really is some great writing.

This trilogy has been my first taste of Djèlí’s writing and i’m very impressed.   His imagination is excellent and his ability to put that imagination into words for all us avid readers is simply marvellous.   I’m certainly going to be reading more of his work in the future: i’m hooked.

All in all, a wonderful blend of steampunk, fantasy and folklore all thrown into an alternative history in Cairo with lots of shenanigans mixed will in.   And it’s great to have main protagonists who are strong women, from different religions, who also happen to be in a same sex relationship.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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A Dead Djinn in Cairo — P. Djèlí Clark

The first book in the Dead Djinn Universe, and what a good start it was.   While it’s only a short story, 36 pages, it’s a very good short story and is packed with great hints as to what the rest of the series is going to be like in this alternative fantasy/steampunk Cairo.

The title gives the beginning away in that a Dead Djinn is found in Cairo by its lover.   A special investigator from the “Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities” is brought in with a police inspector to investigate and then it’s just non stop until the end.

Then once you’re at the end of this i can’t imagine that any reader wouldn’t want to dive straight into The Haunting of Tram Car 015, which is the next book in the series.

Great writing, great characters and just plain good stuff for those who like their fantasy mixed up with steampunk elements.

P. Djèlí Clark’s Page

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