Review: The Princess of Dhagabad

The Princess of Dhagabad, by Anna Kashina
(Dragonwell, June 2012. Ebook)

Reminiscent of ‘ Tales From The Arabian Nights’, ‘ The Princess Of Dhagabad’ tells the story of the friendship between a princess and a djin. On her twelfth birthday, the princess, whose name we do not learn until the very end of the book because of the tradition of her people, is finally allowed to un-stopper the brass bottle bequeathed to her by her grandmother and discovers she has inherited a very unusual slave. His name is Hasan and he is one of the mysterious djin, a being both feared and prized. He can be anything or do anything, but only at the command of his mistress.

Hasan seems a reserved and aloof being, as one might imagine an all-powerful djin to be, but as his story unfolds, it becomes apparent Hasan was very human before he became trapped in a brass bottle. The princess craves knowledge outside of the limited sphere of the palace and the lessons she is required to take in preparation for succeeding her father as ruler of the kingdom. Hasan is happy to expand her horizons and, through his stories and their adventures together, we learn how he came to be a confined in a brass bottle and what it means to be a djin. Hasan is all powerful, but his knowledge has come at a terrible price.

One by one, the princess and the djin overcome obstacles to their friendship, which deepens throughout the years. Hasan wins the trust of the princess’ mother early by saving the young girl’s life. Proving himself valuable to the sultan, the princess’ father, is more complicated. The sultan feels slighted by fate because none of his sons have survived birth or infancy. He has only daughters, the princess being the oldest and the only child of his wife. Sensibly, the sultan listens to Hasan’s advice and the djin’s place in the palace becomes more assured.

Though the friendship between the princess and the djin maintains an innocent aspect, it becomes clear their bond is more than simple and when the princess attains her majority and a husband is chosen for her, that bond is tested. The princess will have to make a choice between respecting her father’s wishes, what is best for her kingdom and her heart.

Anna Kashina has created a full and vibrant world for her story. Her characters are richly drawn. I was excited to read a story set in a different world and enjoyed absorbing new lore as set out by the author. The friendship between the princess and the djin is especially touching and grows at a wonderfully slow and real pace. This is a love story, but it does not read like a romance novel. Rather, it is an adventure story filled with realistic relationships, from friendship to love. I look forward to reading the next novel in the trilogy, to be published in September 2012.

(Review written for and originally published at SFCrowsnest.com)

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