Harem of Aman Akbar or The Djinn Decanted…..

2 Jun

An interesting title from Scarborough, released by GSP. Read the tempting excerpt here on the Legends Promo. 



By his genie’s standards, Aman Akbar was a pervert. He was not content to marry his cousin, the beauteous Hyaganoosh, as custom demanded. Instead he chose three ugly foreign wives–a pale skinned barbarian Rasa, a sharp-tongued Chinese acrobat, Lady Aster, and the tall ebony skinned 100th daughter of the Great Elephant, Amollia. Just about the time the women were sorting out the whole polygamy thing and dealing with their new mother-in-law, Um Aman, Aman Akbar lost control of the genie and got turned into a white ass (it happens a lot in the Arabian Nights) at the wish of none other than Hyaganoosh. What’s a foreign wife to do? The three women and Aman Akbar’s mother have no choice but to seek a way to undo the spell and restore the fellow to his former shape and state but along the way they have some hair raising adventures involving monkeys, shape shifters called peris, the dangerous divs who make the djinn look jolly, and a rather nice elephant.

”  Delightful reading! Shades of Scheherazade and Sinbad in the sort of Scarboroughian treat that one is beginning to expect of this beguiling writer.”   Anne McCaffrey

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the winner of the 1989 Nebula Award for Best novel.


In the second year of the reign of the Boy King, Aman Akbar commanded his djinn to begin casting into the ether for wives suitable to the station to which our illustrious lord then aspired. An ambitious yet kindly man with a taste for the exotic engendered by the fashion of the day, Aman specified to his djinn servant that a woman for his harem must be comely and well learned in wifely crafts and also be of noble blood among her own people, but must not be so beloved that loss of her would greatly grieve her kin.
     Perhaps you will think that such an arrangement was all very well for Aman Akbar but detestable for the women involved. You would, for the most part, be wrong, though the error is certainly forgivable unless you, as I, had been the third daughter and middle child of the overlord of our tribe. We Yahtzeni are fighters first (by inclination) and herders secondarily (by occupation). Thus good men are a rarity among us, for the attrition rate is great.
     Our foes are distant relations to my mother. They live primarily in the upper portions of the hills and raid every spring and fall, killing many men while stealing sheep and women. We try to raid back, but are not such good climbers as they, and lose even more men in such raids. Meanwhile, the women left behind still bear children, and these children have in recent years seemed more often to be girls than boys, so that the girls among us, by adolescence, have no marriage to look forward to, but a life of perpetual girlhood and servitude to their parents and the tribe. The only possible distraction any of us can as a rule anticipate is to be captured, enslaved, ravished and married only when we bear male children to our captors and are thus proven worthy of protection.
     By the time I, as third daughter, was born to my father, he had begun to despair of sons and in his sorrow became unhinged enough to teach me to fight with the curved bronze dagger and lance, to hunt with bow and arrow, and to capture and ride wild ponies, as he would have taught a son. My mother thought him mad and kept telling him no good would come of it, and the surviving older men in the tribe taunted us both and regarded me as uncommonly wild and strange. Great was my mother’s relief when she bore my brother and I could be tethered to the spindle, flocks and loom, and taught the healing potions and prayers she considered essential to a daughter’s education. Still, my early training as my father’s son stood me in good stead when the camp was raided, my father sorely injured and my sister—somewhat gratefully—carried off. My own distaste for my people’s enemies’ marriage customs was explicitly expressed with my dagger.
     Thus by the time I first felt eyes upon me as I sat spinning, watching the sheep, I was already considered unmarriageable among our people and thought to be of an unnaturally fierce disposition.
Rain was sparse that season, and the sky, promising snow, looked like a felted blanket. Our sheep ranged far and wide to find forage and I with them. I’d found a comfortable rock, just high enough for my spindle to rest against my thigh. When I felt the eyes upon me, I stilled my spindle in mid-whirl and clasped it to my hip. The hills around my flock teemed with wolves and bear, as well as mother’s disgruntled relatives. I set aside the spindle and grabbed my dagger, fearing the two-legged beasts more than the four. Had I known what was truly behind my unease, I would have been terrified beyond any comfort to be gained from the knife.
     Later I would be glad that I had had to wear my new robe that day, for the tattered one my mother had sewn for me for my womanhood dance had been torn beyond repair in the last battle. Even before that, it had been worn to transparency in places so intimate I was almost embarrassed to wear it in front of the sheep. The threads for my new robe were finer spun than those in the old one, for my skill with the spindle had increased in the years separating the making of the two. I had dyed it a rich rust color by soaking it in a bath of iron wood. Escaping the camp to roam with the sheep put me in a festive mood. That and the chill sharpening the morning prompted me to add to my new finery the felted vest I had been embroidering for my sister before her capture—it had the fleece of a black lamb inside and the yarns were various yellows and soft pinks. Aman says that he found the contrast between my finery of that day and my ferocious aspect in battle most erotic— Aman talks that way sometimes. For although he has lived all his life in Kharristan, he has always been a keen watcher of the market place and also is the possessor of a vivid imagination. He finds the strange people who flock to that center of the civilized world endlessly fascinating and their diversity intriguing. Thus he was prepared to find me beautiful instead of merely odd.
     I am told the djinn complained that I was unworthy— what noble woman, he protested, would be so careless of herself as to bind her hair into leather-held braids instead of twining it with pearls? Which shows how much the djinn knows about feminine adornment—my hair is almost white and pearls would ill-become me. He also deemed my substantial nose hideous—but this is typical of the djinn, who has lived a sheltered existence, for the most part, confined in his bottle. Therefore his views often tend to be prudish and conservative. Though a great one for taking others places, he has generally taken no part in the life of those places, thereby managing to stay relatively untouched and unenlightened by his travels. However, on the occasion in question, his priggish complaints fell on unheeding ears, for Aman replied, “Her nose is curved like the beak of the hawk and is a fitting complement to the glitter of her eyes—know you, o djinn, that the hawk is a noble bird and proud and also, I think, useful.”
     There was further discussion of the sort Aman indulges in when carrying out these quasi-poetic analogies of his, about soft feathers and delicate coloring but even when he is being smooth-tongued and soft-headed he can be acute. You notice he did not pick a frivolous bird to compare with me.
     All that morning I felt skittish as an unbroken pony, disturbed, though I knew it not, by invisible scrutiny.
     The new pasturage was a sloping mountain meadow and the way was long and tiresome. I quickly shed my vest, the pleasant coolness giving way to prickly discomfort as the sun and I climbed together. By the time I reached the stream where I planned to watch while the sheep grazed, sweat dewed my forehead and stuck my new garments to me at the armpits. The bubbling water looked refreshing and I smelled goatish. I did not wish to spoil my new clothing by stinking it up on its first day in use, so I shed it gratefully and waded in. The icy waters revived me for but a moment before I began shaking with a cold that struck through my body as though to cut flesh from bone. I shot from the water, blowing through my nose and lips like a horse, hugging myself and shivering in my blued hide.
     “Who can account for the taste of my master?” a voice whined, seemingly from above. I looked up sharply and dove for my clothing, not to cover myself so much as to find my dagger, still tangled in the silken sash. Despite the unfamiliar accent, I feared I had been caught by our enemies and was determined to sunder as many as possible from their lives before they could sunder me from my maidenhood.            

About the author:

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the author of 22 solo fantasy and science fiction novels, including the 1989 Nebula award winning fantasy novel, Healer’s War, loosely based on her service as an Army Nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. She has collaborated thus far on 16 novels with Anne McCaffrey, six in the best selling Petaybee series and eight in the YA bestselling Acorna series.






One Response to “Harem of Aman Akbar or The Djinn Decanted…..”

  1. chalaedra June 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on Chalaedra's Weblog and commented:

    “Delightful reading! Shades of Scheherazade and Sinbad in the sort of Scarboroughian treat that one is beginning to expect of this beguiling writer.” —Anne McCaffrey . . . The Harem of Aman Akbar by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Available from Amazon, other fine eBook vendors and Gypsy Shadow Publishing at: http://www.gypsyshadow.com/ElizabethScarborough.html#Harem

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