Adijan and Her Genie
Adijan is an errand girl with big dreams. Specifically, she wishes to save enough from her deliveries to buy a donkey and start a trading company that will eventually stretch from city to city, from the coast to the heart of the desert. At least, that's what she daydreams when she isn't passed out in a drunken stupor behind the local wine shop.
Shalimar is a grown woman with the mind of a child. She loves Adijan and doesn't care that Adijan isn't successful, or drinks too much. She's content to be Adijan's wife and live in her tiny apartment. Shalimar supplements their income with her sewing and takes in lost kittens and feeds orphans. Her greatest desire is to live with Adijan forever and have a baby of her own.
Shalimar's brother Hadim hates Adijan. He worries for his disabled sister, who is frequently left alone for days at a time while Adijan makes deliveries. Recently, Adijan spent all her rent money on wine and left Shalimar to deal with an angry landlord. Hadim paid off the landlord and took Shalimar home while Adijan was away. When Adijan returned and found her apartment empty, Hadim offered Adijan a purse of silver to walk away from her marriage vows. When Adijan refused, Hadim ordered his servants to beat her and throw her on the dung-heap.
Hadim bribes a local magistrate to annul his sister's marriage to Adijan and arranges for Shalimar to marry the city seneschal. By law, Shalimar must wait forty-nine days before she can remarry. This gives Adijan seven weeks to rescue her. But Adijan hasn't got a copper to her name and doesn't know what to do. The only thing she owns is the tarnished locket she wears around her neck—a seemingly worthless trinket she was given as payment for a delivery. Which brings us to the genie...
This isn't my favorite of L-J Baker's novels. It's badly in need of an editor and the Arabian Nights setting could have been better researched. I thought the ending was annoying, and the genie wasn't as cool as she might have been—the genie should have rocked the entire book. Instead she just fizzled. But I was charmed by the central love story. Adijan's relationship with Shalimar made me smile and I was rooting for Adijan to get sober and win back her wife. I recommend it for fantasy readers with a romantic inclination who can overlook its shortcomings.
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