You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Djinn: A Novel

J. Kent Holloway's novel The Djinn has all the right elements for a great fantasy novel. There are ancient magical powers secreted in a hidden tomb. There is a mystical being with curious powers to find and subdue his enemies. The story takes place in the Middle Ages during the Crusades. Yet the story is not so well written to take advantage of these elements, and the characters come off as simplistic.

Baron Gregory De L'Ombre is the leader of European forces in Palestine, sent there by the Pope to find some arcane artifact. But he has turned his attention to a new mission: to find the tomb that houses the twelve golems created by one of King Solomon's wives and turned against him. With this power he hopes to rule Palestine and the world. His brother William is a leper living in a nearby compound. He was adopted by a wealthy Christian Arab after being rejected by Gregory.

Then there is the Djinn, a powerful mystical being who has been wreaking havoc on Gregory's plans. He frees Gregory's slaves and attacks his thugs. He has terrorized the locals, though Gregory insists the stories are all just legends. One of the problems with the Djinn is that there are some big hints as to his identity early on, and his identity is revealed to Gregory in the middle of the novel but not to the reader until nearly the end. For most of the book the author plays coyly with the question of the Djinn's identity, and it feels forced and too awkward. Scenes are written in a certain way and concealing certain facts that don't feel right.

The characters don't have much motivation other than one-dimensional goals. One element that works is the Djinn's secret relationship with Gregory's daughter Isabella, however it is not enough to help the whole story. Gregory is single-mindedly focused on his power grab. The Djinn is somewhat more interesting, and probably the most developed character in the book. Gregory's subject Horatio plays the part of the knight who comes do doubt his lord's mission, but he also lacks definition.

The best parts of the story are the golems themselves, though they get little time. The ending is mostly satisfactory, if a little too neat and easy. The elements never add up to a compelling whole. The story was not written as well as it could have been. C-

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