The Harem of Aman Akbar, by Elizabeth Scarborough

Second paragraph of third chapter:

My mind felt as rumpled as my bed and my face was swollen with tears and sleep. I still felt like applying the nearest blunt object to all within this confusing household but was also aware that in doing so I was no doubt sealing my own doom. What galled me most, I suppose, was that in selling myself into this arrangement, I had inadvertently fallen into domestic problems as painful as those I had sought to avoid by evading my mother’s relatives. The gods do not like to have their plans thwarted, I suppose.

An orientalist fantasy, drawing heavily on the Arabian Nights, but subverting it in that the women characters take charge and have to rescue their husband, Aman Akbar, who has been transformed into a donkey. I don’t think the racial stereotypes would really fly today, but I can see what Scarborough was trying to do and it’s (intentionally) quite funny in places. You can get it here.

This was my top unread book acquired in 2016. Next on that pile is Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard, by Lawrence M. Schoen.

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