Saturday, July 11, 2009

Discovery Showcase - Tamar Black - Djinnx'd

Tamar Black - Djinnx'd
By Nicola Rhodes
Genre - Comic Fantasy
Lulu - Purchase Link

What would you wish for?

When Tamar found a dirty old bottle in the river and released an ancient and powerful Djinn, she decided to go for the big one, the ultimate wish to end all wishes. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.


...Or Jinxed by a Genie. Which is what happens to Tamar when she is cruelly tricked into taking the Genie’s place.

Good – in that she now has phenomenal cosmic power.
Bad – in that she is now the slave of the bottle for the next several eternities.

But eternity is cut short when she meets Denny. At first he seems to be just the latest in a long line of human masters, but it soon becomes apparent that Denny is no ordinary master when he declares his intention to set Tamar free from her bondage.

No matter what the cost.

He has no idea what he’s let himself in for. Witches, mermaids, houri’s, a homicidal djinn and a mad forest god with a superiority complex, and that’s not the half of it…

What can kill a Djinn? If Denny can’t answer this question in time it will all have been for nothing.

Author's note: Several paragraphs of this excerpt have been omitted in order to conform to the 2000 word limit.

~ Prologue ~

In the beginning, there was the word. Actually, there were two words. And the words were “System Ready” because it was.

And the programmers saw that it was good. Not as good as it could have been, because the bosses upstairs had only given them a week to build the program. So the universe was a bit of a rush job in the end, but deadlines were deadlines and it would just have to do. So they pushed “Enter” and the screen flashed up “Mainframe universal systems online”

And underneath that > “Which file?”

So, the programmers accessed the stellar matrix and switched on the stars. And the void was filled.

And the programmers saw that it was good.

So they switched on all systems and checked the files. There were files for all things that were and all things that would ever be. And there were some files for things that would never be, but this was dismissed as a system error. They could sort it out later. After all, it had been a rush job, and they could use the overtime.

And so, the planets spun and the stars burned. Mainframe was up and running. And the programmers saw that it was good.

So they left mainframe, which could pretty much run itself now anyway, and went home for their tea. After all it was Sunday and the bosses had temporarily vetoed the file for time and a half on weekends.

And it was on the weekends that some pretty interesting new files were created that the programmers completely missed. A good example of this was the ‘magic’ or ‘virtual reality’ files. By the time the programmers realised what had happened within mainframe, the error was too large to correct. Magic was an integral part of the system, which could not be shut down from within. And the paradox of course, was that once mainframe was up and running, the programmers who created it, were a part of the system, and always had been. So, when they tried to delete the files, the programmers found that they couldn’t do it. All that could be done now was to try to modify the files from within to minimise the problems for the future. Many subroutines were written to exercise some control over the many and various types of magic that had been created.

One of the worst type of magic files that had been created, were the Djinn files. In order to try to sort this one out the programmers demanded, and got, their time and a half weekend pay. Even management could see that they would have to back down on this one.

But, even so, the problem was only partly resolved in the end. However the programmers felt that they had it under control.

There were around twelve hundred Djinn files to be amended. That’s a lot of work in anyone’s book. So, it’s no wonder that they missed one.

In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was “Error”. And that explains a lot, doesn’t it?

~ Chapter One ~

Tamaria was bored. Picnics by the river with her sisters were a regular penance. Although it was hard to imagine anything else to do in ancient Greece on a hot sunny day, except go shopping which was what she wanted to be doing. Xanthe, who was a year older than herself, was dull and scholarly and always spent the whole day reading under a tree, leaving her to look after Lydia who was only four and usually fractious. What she really wanted was to be at the Agora with her friends, buying silks and jewellery and staring at young men, who would almost certainly not stare back. Tamaria was nineteen years old.

The sun was burning down on her head; the wine was warm and the food starting to smell bad.

Xanthe, as usual, had not touched a bite, she was not interested in food or indeed in anything but literature, nor was she interested in anyone who was not interested in literature. She liked to think of herself as an intellectual, not being aware that there is a great difference between intelligence and academia. In fact, Tamaria, who couldn’t have quoted Aristotle if you paid her, was actually far more intelligent than her sister, (who, nevertheless looked down on her) and had, in addition, a great store of natural cunning. And Lydia was starting to yell, because no one was taking any notice of her. Tamaria longed to slap her. Kids, she thought. Her head was aching and she longed for some peace. She made a decision. ‘Xan, watch Liddy for me. I won’t be long.’

Although her sister showed no sign of having heard, Tamaria nevertheless started to walk away, leaving Lydia howling unheeded in a muddy puddle.

Once the sound had faded away, Tamaria sat under a tree, slipped off her sandals and dangled her feet in the cool water. ‘Ahhh – OUCH!’ She jumped up. Something extremely solid and heavy had crashed into her ankle. ‘By Zeus!’ She cursed and then clapped her hand over her mouth and waited for the thunderbolt. Her mother had warned her about blasphemy, ‘You can’t be too careful,’ she had said, ‘seems like there’s a god behind every tree these days.’

When nothing happened to her, she said it again; then she bent over the water. Rather like Narcissus, she thought, although with, she had to admit, little chance of the same result. Her own face having what is charitably called an ‘unfortunate aspect’.

She fished out what turned out to be a large unusual looking bottle, (unusual to Tamaria that is). In the Far East, where it had come from, it was a perfectly ordinary oil bottle such as you would find a dozen of in every household. To Tamaria, however it was an interesting curiosity. She turned it over a few times, shook it and pulled out the cork.

BANG!!!! Actually, BANG!!!! Is a bit of an understatement when describing a noise that would make a nuclear explosion sound no louder than an Aerosmith concert, accompanied by the kind of special effect that would have George Lucas throwing in the towel and going into radio.

After the dust had settled and she had stopped seeing stars, Tamaria looked up and saw a…a…god? It had to be a god of course. Tamaria was basing this assumption on the manner of its arrival and the fact that it was twelve feet tall. Apart from that, anything less godlike was hard to imagine (although Tamaria had never actually seen a god). Mostly it just looked exceedingly odd. It had a large black shiny face with teeth like tombstones, a gap between the front ones large enough to see through to the back of its throat. It was wearing a small pointed beard with large black mustachios and enough bangles, earrings and chains to make Mr. T look underdressed. On its head, it appeared to have a large colourful bandage fastened with a large jewel. Its chest was bare, apparently because it was so large that it needed two togas just for its legs, despite this it had managed to find footwear that was much too large and had therefore curled up at the toes. Its first comment was; ‘A HA, HA, HA, HA, HAR!’ which was not calculated to be remotely soothing or encouraging.

Remembering her earlier blasphemy, Tamaria fell on her knees, trembling. The apparition was speaking. ‘O’ My Mistress,’ it was saying, bowing low as it did so. ‘I am Askphrit the Black and you have released me from my long imprisonment. My wish is your command - rats - I mean your wish is my command.’

‘I implore your forgiveness my Lord…sorry, what?’ Tamaria shook her head to clear it. Her ears were still ringing from the louder than BANG!!!! Evidently, she had misheard, what it was undoubtedly saying was. ‘COWER IMPUDENT MORTAL ...’ etc. etc.

The thing brought its face close to hers and repeated. ‘Your wish is my command.’

(Several paragraphs omitted)

‘It is?’



‘Of course.’


‘By Allah!’

‘Who’s Allah?’

'Who’s..? look; you really don’t understand do you? Let me try to explain. I am a Djinn, Genie or Ifrit ...’

‘Well, which is it? And what are those anyway?’

‘Shut up.’


‘As I was saying, I am a Djinn, sometimes known as a Genie or Ifrit. I am the slave of the bottle. You opened the bottle; therefore, you are now my mistress – until I have granted you three wishes. Then I will be free. They call me Askphrit the Black,’ he added, feeling sure that she had not been listening to him when he had told her this earlier.

'Why?' she asked.

Askphrit shrugged. ‘I don’t know, he admitted. ‘They just do – the other Djinn I mean.’

‘Other Djinn?’

(several paragraphs omitted)

‘So what are you?’

‘I told you, I am a Djinn, Genie or ...’

‘Yes, but what does that mean?’

The Djinn bit his lip. ‘It’s complicated, but what it means to you is that you can make any three wishes that you want and I will grant them for you. You have heard of magic, I take it? '



‘Anything at all?’


‘But only the gods have that power.’

‘There you go again. Look. It’s like I said, it’s complicated, but basically I have more power than all of your tin pot deities put together. I have the greatest power in the universe - under Allah.’


‘I can boil the seas, change the seasons, blot out the sun ...’ said the Djinn, apparently quite carried away.

‘But only if my master or mistress wishes it,’ he ended sadly.

‘Gosh,’ again.

‘You see when the mortals turned up we were enslaved to prevent us from harming them or destroying the world or whatever. Now, you are the only beings capable of that, ‘your wish’ etc, etc’

‘Take your gods now,’ he carried on, ‘the only reason they exist at all is because you mortals believe in them and they can only do such damage, as you believe they can. Even mortals, it seems, need someone to blame.’

‘But if you were set free?’

‘Oh don’t worry about that. I won’t do any harm. I like mortals, everybody needs somebody to look down on and I like the world the way it is. But it would be nice to be my own boss for a while – change I mean.

‘So, three wishes,’ he carried on. ‘What’s it going to be then? Inexhaustible wealth? Great beauty? (Pointedly) True love?’

‘Um, about the smiting, can you really? Only I can think of a few people ...’ she trailed off thinking.

‘Oh yes. No problem, just point me in the right direction. Show me your enemies, sort of thing.’

‘So you can even smite gods?’

‘Well yes, but what’s the point? They’ll all be gone soon anyway, lack of belief. Still, if it’s what you really want.’

‘No,’ said Tamaria with what she fondly believed to be great shrewdness, ‘this is a big decision, three wishes. I mean this looks like the opportunity of a lifetime to me. I can see that this sort of thing wants a lot of thinking about. So can you just go back in the bottle or whatever, until I’m ready?’

Oh great. Thought the Djinn. Just what I need, another one trying to beat the system. Why do I always get them? This could take forever.

But, ‘of course O’ My Mistress, I am at your service,’ is what he actually said (abasement is in the Djinn Charter) and he turned to smoke and wafted back into the bottle.


Discovery Showcase Information

Here are the upcoming Discovery Showcases, in the order in which they may appear:
  • Prophecy of Hope
  • The Heroes of Nightingale
  • Jack Dent The Second Hand Kid
If you want to have the first chapter of your unpublished or self-published novel featured at Fantasy Debut as a Discovery Showcase, please read how to do so here.

My Thoughts

I think this was a very fun idea and Ms. Rhodes has a great sense of humor. The blurb was great, and had me eagerly reading the excerpt. And I thought the prologue about the programmers was very well done. The entire excerpt left curious about the rest, so I think Ms. Rhodes has a solid hook and the start of what appears to be an engaging story.

However, frequent explanation points are not the mark of a professional, and references to modern-day things like nuclear blasts and Mr. T is considered "authorial intrusion," and is not something that modern-day authors can get away with without a significant track record.

I love the title, and I was able to read the entire excerpt without struggling. The author has a charming writing style and I'm only a blogger, but I think I see potential here. It is my belief that she would greatly benefit from reading articles like this one, and reading books like Stephen King's On Writing and Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel.

You may purchase Djinnx'd here.
Nicole Rhode's website is here.

What are your thoughts? Constructive comments are welcome.


Jami said...

I definitely like the idea, though I agree that the modern references in what appears to be an ancient Greek setting are a bit disorienting (though that may just be because the caffiene hasn't completely kicked in yet this morning). It made me confused as to what time frame this was set in. I figured it for ancient Greek, but for all I know, it's secretly set in the future and the ancient Greek part is really a holodeck setting.
It also seems to have a bit of talking heads, and long strings of repetative dialog. While some bits were removed for length, the long back and forth of one to two word sentences made my eyes cross. It seems like Tamaria is far younger and more childish than she lets on, and especially with that exchange. I would have seen the 4 year old doing that, more likely.
Overall a very interesting story idea, and I'm intrigued by it... Pretty cover, a very different idea than a lot of what I've seen lately, but while the intial hook is there, I suspect based on the excerpt that the style wouldn't be to my taste. I might read it at work when I don't have my full attention to give it, but I doubt it would be one I'd save to savor in a hot bath.

Tia Nevitt said...

This novel has a very different feel than the usual self-published novel that comes through here. Usually, I see sweeping epics. The humorous angle was definitely refreshing for me.

Janet said...

It had some very obvious borrowings from the Disney Aladdin movie, which made the whole mix of ancient and contemporary culture seem less fresh than it could have. The historical inaccuracies were a bit distracting too. Still, there's an interesting voice here and if Tamar can construct a plot, there is potential. (The similarity between Tamar and Tamaria is also distracting, and makes me suspect a Mary Sue.)

Martin Price said...

At last a review of a book I really like and I suppose I am in a better position than most to review this book as I have actually read it!.

Ok, Firstly the book is totally engaging from start to finish,the characters are very real and totally believable, (unlike alot of others I have read lately).
I borrowed the book from a friend and ended up buying a copy for myself.
Apart from the fact it has a Genie in it I can't see the connection with Aladdin at all, it's totally different in every way. I hate Aladdin !
As far as the time frame goes it is set in the first part of the book in ancient Greece where she meets the Djinn or genie, she is trapped for many many years inside the bottle until she finds herself in our modern day time.
Secondly Tamar is the main character who's full name is Tamaria. they are one and the same.
This book is a brilliant piece of escapism that really does have you laughing out loud one second and on the edge of your seat the next. There is also a second book in the series out called Reality Bites and that is brilliant too, (but i'm not giving too much away),you will have to read them both and make your own judgement.
I personally can't wait for the next one to come out, I wait with baited breath ...