This would have been around 1987 or 88. I tried to convince my father that I read the book so he would sign off on my Book It reading list and I would score a personal pan pizza. He examined the totally uncreased spine and called me out for lying. So, primary reason I don't remember the book is that I didn't even read it.

Here's what I remember: it was number 2 in a series. A party of adventurers are seeking a key, and the overall theme of the series was keys, certainly magical and possibly elemental. This book involved a journey through the desert, and there is an encounter with a djinn (this is where I learned the word djinn, as differentiated from genie). I have some sense that the prior or subsequent book involved water.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you remember anything about the art on the cover? How thick was the book? What age range was it targeted at?
    – DavidW
    Oct 25, 2021 at 17:44
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    This could be Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman’s non-DND foray, Rose of the Prophet trilogy, starting publishing in 1988 and set in fictional mid-east fantasy setting. Pookah, the djinn, is a relatively major character. The second novel of the series is The Paladin of the Night, and iirc involves the characters freeing slaves. Hot off Dragonlance fame, the series had wide release and marketing. Oct 25, 2021 at 18:24
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    Could this be Grim Tuesday, the 2nd in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series? It's been a while since I read them so I don't remember details about djinns or deserts, I'm afraid.
    – NiceOrc
    Oct 25, 2021 at 23:50
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    It's been a few years, but kudos to you for finally trying to get that pizza Oct 26, 2021 at 11:43
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    "djinn" and "djinni" are English transliterations of Arabic جِنّ‎ and جِنِّيّ‎, while "genie" is a borrowing of a French transliteration of جِنِّيّ‎.
    – chepner
    Oct 26, 2021 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


This makes me think of The Skeleton Lord's Key (1987), the second book of Robert E. Vardeman's trilogy Keys to Paradise.

Cover of "The Skeleton Lord's Key," book 2 of "Keys to Paradise"

The trilogy follow a trio of adventurers lead by Giles Grimsmate, a veteran of recent wars, who is travelling with a self described "master thief," Keja Tchurak, and Petia Darya a part-cat woman forced by circumstance into petty thievery. They are seeking the five titular keys in order to get into paradise.

The Skeleton Lord's Key does indeed feature a desert, the Desert of Skeletons, where the party is tormented by djinn.

  • Ha! The very book. Well done! Thank you to everyone who read and commented, too. Oct 27, 2021 at 0:02

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