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.
A good, little, short story which wasn’t the kind of “fantasy pick” i was expecting from Djèlí.
The “fantasy pick” of the title is about sport stars, the GOATs, those greats that we love to stand upon pedestals to cheer and worship, what we expect of them and at what cost. It also raises some questions as to modern medicine and at what point that will be considered performance enhancing and how far the fans are willing to put up with this. Will the fans even care about the player’s overall welfare and what it ultimately costs them as long as they are getting entertained?
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.