Ugh. I don’t know how to feel about this one.
There is so much good in this book but I feel let down by the ending.
So, basically, djinns are real, they have their own politics and rules and also power. They have human emissaries who deal with their earthly affairs, which sometimes is procuring human things as they don’t sully themselves with money. The novel revolves around three main people: Kaikobad, Indeled and Rais.
Kaikobad is an emissary but to the outside world he is a drunk. Indelbed is his son, who due to djinn politics is kidnapped. Rais is Indelbed’s cousin and takes the place of djinn emissary when Kaikobad is attacked (presumably by another djinn) and falls into a coma (and ends up in some other realm). It starts to get a bit more disorientating as the novel progresses much like Book of M. However, it’s non-overwhelming as you’re reading it and by the time it gets really weird, you’re so used to dealing with the weirdness of djinns that it is consistent with the reality that has been created.
And for awhile, it’s really good. As you’re seeing three perspectives, you start to see the plot knit together. So Kaikobad has to watch the destruction of the First City (in his disembodied way), Indelbed needs to escape the prison he’s in and Rais tries to unravel the mystery of what happened both of them, getting very mixed up in djinn factional politics along the way. But you start to see how they’re all related (though in retrospect, it feels like Kaikobad getting to the ethereal plane he’s in isn’t so consistent…)
But then…it kind of stops being as good. I feel it dragged a bit in the last third. It’s like instead of the three different character arcs are merging into the final conflict, it just drags for awhile. So instead of the arcs converging, they all just miss each other and you get this unsatisfying conclusion. It’s here where you also get these random digressions, which is central to the story but it was a bit science lesson-y and felt out of place. And then the ending is not really an ending. It felt a little bit Empire Strikes Back but I don’t even know if there’s going to be a sequel. So depending on your appetite for having resolutions, I think your enjoyment of this book will vary.
There are so many good things in it though. I love the fantastical elements of the djinns and their weird ways. I love the politicking and how Rais and his mother Juny use it all against the djinns to try and take on the big baddie. I love the history that is wrapped up in the whole central mystery. The world building is delightful and interesting and the characters are often very funny. I wish there were more women, as the the main two are cast as competent but also manipulative in some ways. It was well crafted and it almost worked for me.
Anyway, I’d be happier if there was a sequel.