"Amira & Hamza" Book Club: Day 3By: OwlCrate Jr
“We are not nothing. And we’re not alone. We have each other.”
Just a reminder that this will be a SPOILER FILLED discussion for Chapters 9-14 of Amira & Hamza. Discussion questions are listed below, and anyone who participates in the comments will be entered to win a free OwlCrate Jr box per post!
The story so far...
After hours of weapons training, to very little avail, and a night’s sleep, it’s time for Amira & Hamza to continue on their journey to find Ifrit. For this leg of the journey, they will be joined by Aasman Peri, Maqbool, and Abdul Rahman. The emperor bestows three gifts to further aid their journey: A winged horse for transportation, (much like a Pegasus, but with three eyes, who they name Zendaya), a slim jade tablet imbued with the knowledge and wisdom of Suleiman (basically, an iPad), and an engraved silver canteen that never runs dry once filled from the Garden of Eternal Spring.
First stop, fill up the canteen! But the Garden of Eternal Spring isn’t as peaceful and serene as it first appears. The trees are menacing and tricky and can lure you into their grasp by showing you items of your hearts desire, dancing from their branches. Amira is able to fill the canteen but soon hears Hamza’s screams, she rushes to his aid to see him being held by a tree and about to be attacked by a giant purple spotted, two-headed dev. Using her shaky bow & arrow skills she’s able to land a well aimed arrow into the dev’s solar plexus, causing him to turn to ash! Phew!
Finally the others are able to fight their way through the evil tree-jinn to provide aid and some splashes from the canteen miraculously heal Hamza’s wounds. After talking with non-evil tree jinn, the group learns that Ifrit has a bounty on the sibling’s heads and has recruited some tree-jinn to his side. Abdul Rahman must leave the group and warn the emperor that the forces are closer than they had thought. Even worse, Aasman Peri’s bag of provisions has been stolen … what, no food?! The new plan: a pit stop at The Azure Palace which employs the greatest chefs in all of Qaf!
It is quickly apparent that something is very wrong at the Azure Palace — it’s on fire! Aasman Peri quickly runs to the Palace but comes across a giant mint-green ghul, who keeps spawning attacking mini green ghuls! A quick look at the Suleiman iPad/tablet informs the group to show him his face … we need a mirror, does anyone have a compact??
In the absence of a mirror, Aasman remembers the nearby Lake of Illusion. If they can lure the ghul there, maybe he’ll see his reflection! Aasman warns the siblings not to touch the water, whatever they do. While Maqbool fights off the mini-ghuls, the others, using Hamza as bait, lure the ghul to the lake whereupon he sees his reflection (as he is bending over to eat Amira!), falls into the lake and is promptly eaten by a purple iridescent lake serpent. A job well done!
A look at the tablet tells them the next stop on their journey: The Crystal Palace. Hopping onto Zendaya and they’re off!
The Crystal Palace is a world of jagged, spiky crystals with no safe place to land, requiring Maqbool to turn on his flame to melt a safe path for the group. But this is only the beginning of their troubles, the palace itself balances in the mouth of a massive, dormant, emerald-scaled dragon … at least it was dormant! The dragon awakens and attacks the group with its Fire Crystal - this dragon doesn’t blow your typical fire, rather millions of crystal shards fall down upon the group, luckily Zendaya protects them with their wings! Unsure how to escape, the siblings consult the tablet again which informs them “Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart” … huh? Luckily the second message is more clear: “Just get on the horse.”
However Zendaya doesn’t fly them away to safety, but rather straight for the dragon's mouth! Turns out, it was all an illusion - hence the tablet’s first message - and Zendaya could see through this illusion because of her three eyes! But now … where are they? In the dragon’s belly? Not quite. A sudden reappearance of Abdul Rahman informs the group they are in an uncharted, hidden pocket of the realm!
Uh-oh. Abdul Rahman delivers even more bad news: Ifrit has created this realm (or tilisim) as a trap and they don’t know where, or even when, it is or how to get out! The Suleiman tablet is not working here so it is time to consult the Everlasting Scroll. But it delivers even worse news, Abdul has made a mistake (if he’d just worn his glasses!) and misread the dates of the prophecy! He was supposed to return to Earth year 1022 and collect one Amir A. Hamza - a great, famed warrior - but instead returned to Earth in 2022 and collected Amira and Hamza … turns out they aren’t the chosen ones after all and there is no way back to Earth. The way is sealed and the only way back is through defeating Ifrit.
While the children absorb this somber news, they hear a small girl crying from a nearby cave. Hamza rushes to her aid and discovers a girl in a bright golden cage … a girl that looks identical to Amira! She begs the group to release her and in turn she will help them find Ifrit. After they do, she quickly turns into a crimson-winged evil peri who has sided with Ifrit - (she was able to look like Amira because the ghul they encountered back at the pomegranate tree replicated their likeness so Ifrit’s troops would know their likenesses) - and gives a sharp cry to signal Ifrit’s army! They’re trapped!
While Maqbool and Abdul Rahman begin felling trees to make a barrier and traps for the approaching army, the evil peri wiggles free of her bindings and begins fighting Aasman Peri. With the help of Hamza, Aasman disarms her … or so they thought. One last dagger hidden in her waist sash launches towards Hamza, Maqbool dives himself in front of Hamza and the blade lands into his chest. He cannot be healed with the water from the canteen because the dagger was poisoned and Maqbool sadly dies.
With the army quickly descending, the group decide to send Amira and Hamza off on Zendaya while Aasman Peri and Abdul Rahman sacrifice themselves for a distraction, but before they can mount Zendaya they are yanked from behind and thrown into a tremendous flying cauldron (like the ones the Supahi fly within) by a monstrous yellow dev!!
So everything is pretty dire at this point - Maqbool has died, Aasman Peri, Abdul Rahman and Zendaya have been left behind, outnumbered, before Ifrit’s army and the siblings are trapped in a flying cauldron with a large yellow dev, disarmed, and they aren’t the chosen ones after all!
Refusing to give up, Amira and Hamza use the last tool in their belt … insults and distraction! Turns out this dev isn’t going to eat them (yay!), he’s a bounty hunter looking to deliver them to Ifrit (not so yay). Hair scrunchie to the rescue … wait, what? As the dev leans over the side of the cauldron, Amira launches her scrunchie past him, which causes him to lean further out the cauldron to watch said scrunchie float to the sea, and the siblings take their shot to push him out!
It works but unfortunately these flying cauldrons only work by being controlled by the creature flying it, so with the yellow dev now swimming in the sea below, the cauldron has no pilot and is going to crash!
- You’re gifted a mythical pegasus - what would you name it and where would you fly to first?
- As we approach the end of the story, there have been a lot of quests and challenges the siblings have faced. I personally loved the Crystal Fire Dragon battle - do you have any favourite scenes, quests, or battles so far?
- Any predictions on how the story is going to end?