Added another work of the Jinn to my list this last week: The Amulets of Sihir by Abu Bilaal Yakub. Unlike the previous work I wrote of last week this one is not about ghul hunters, but rather about the dark powers of ancient sorceries themselves and how they can envelope humanity in a web of consequences not easily controlled nor overcome. At the center of this epic fantasy is a young black smith, Mukhtar:
Like his elder brother, Mukhtar possessed no less a rebellious trait, but coerced by reality, he adapted an early maturity, and his cunningness and tenacity helped him persevere. Fatherless for the better part of his life, he grew up poor but healthy, destitute but happy, and life taught him what he needed to know. Mika’il Abaraina, married to Suha’s elder sister, had taken custody of Harun Zafar’s forge, and it was under his watchful eye that Mukhtar earned his livelihood as an apprentice blacksmith.1
Unbeknown to Mukhtar his grandfather and father were both great sorcerers whose powers came from their bloodline, a distant ancestral line that traced them back to a moment when the ancient jinn and humans interacted and even at times had sexual relations. (Much of this parallels other accounts in the Books of Enoch or Apocrypha on Nephilim, etc.) These hybrid beings of jinn and human off-spring would be attuned to the unseen world of the jinn. Not so much enabled to see it, but to interact with certain objects of power, amulets and other magickal objects and artifacts created by these creatures of the ‘eighth climate’. One of the realms that in the novel is spoken of by a young sorcerous:
“Almah-Zurah is the Forbidden Land beyond the Veil,” she explained as they moved further into the outskirts of the city, continuing north in the direction of the cabin. “Said to host legions of Jinn, it is a barren stretch of fire, ash, ruin, and poison.”
Mukhtar whose connections to his father and grandfather tie him to this legacy of fire and ash becomes the object of interest of several different groups who are seeking amulets of four dark jinn sorcerers of the sahir:
“The Amulets are very ancient,” she said. “Almost as ancient as the age of the earth itself. Some claim they descended from the heavens, relics brought to earth by Azazil when he was cast out. No one knows their true origin, but they are famously associated with the Dark Prince’s Four Sorcerers, Sahir Idumea, Sahir Eth, Sahir Elzafaan—”
“And Sahir Ahumai,” Mukhtar finished her sentenced grimly.
The name of this sorcerer we discover is Ma’alim, the very Master of the Assassins who has secretly been shaping and guiding Mukhtar’s epic adventure with various helpers and jinn protectors. This Master’s ultimate goal is to open a gateway between the world of the jinn and the human world so that the Dark Prince and his Hand can enter through the veil of the unseen:
Ma’alim was speaking to himself, but Mukhtar could hear every word. “Together they will open the Eye of Hurus, and he who commands the doorway, commands the forces of Azazil. The Prince of Darkness. The Destroyer of Worlds. He who welcomes the devil, only welcomes the end. He who has sworn to haunt mankind…”
The tale through many long and challenging turns weaves a world of mystery and intrigue, magick and lore. It will slowly unravel the power behind the mystery as a human sorcerer who has sold his soul to Azazil (Iblis-Samael) to gain power over the kingdoms of the world. We’ll meet many helpers and enemies along the way, each woven into the tale with a specific purpose of guiding Mukhtar closer and closer to the end game of discovering who this sorcerer is, what he’s done to his father and grandfather, what the amulets represent, and most of all what his own purpose is in this grand narrative of events.
I’ll have to admit that Mukhtar is an irascible zealot whose strange amalgam of superstition, religious fervor, and moral righteousness get in the way of his mission most of the time. The author tells a great tale, but the main vehicle of it, Mukhtar is at times one of those creatures I would like to slap the crap out of, and tell him to quit overthinking things. He argues with everyone, and is selfish to the point that if he does not get his way, if people don’t just follow his every little whim, he becomes insufferable and an absolute bore. Only toward the end of the book does he slowly emerge from the usual ‘coming of age’ tale to become a creature that is more enabled to just accept that other people do not revolve around his little ego; they have lives and destinies of their own to follow. Ultimately we’re left with an open ended work that puts Mukhtar on a quest to uncover the secret worlds of the jinn and of his father and grandfather’s past.
I’d give it a four out of five stars only because of my dislike of Mukhtar till about 3/4’s of a way into the book, and that’s touch since he is the main protagonist. But by the end he grows on you to the point that now I can’t wait to read the next installment of this epic work on the jinn and their lore. I haven’t found out yet when that will be, but you can buy his book on amazon…
- Abu Bilaal Yakub. The Amulets of Sihr. Iron Heart Publishing House.