How do the themes in "A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds" and "Message in a Bottle" from The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories connect?

Quick answer:

“A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” and “Message in a Bottle” can be connected through the themes of threat and survival. If one is drawn to experimental fiction, they might connect to “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds.” If one finds traditional storytelling appealing, they could connect to “Message in a Bottle”

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The two stories—“A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” and “Message in a Bottle”—can be connected with the theme of threat. In Amal El-Mohtar’s piece and in K. J. Parker’s narrative, the situation is precarious.

In “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds,” the danger revolves around the wizard-nation and the birds. The wizard-nation seems intent on preying on the birds, while the birds appear able to evade the wizard-nation’s attacks and survive. For example, the wizard-nation “stalks” the crow, but as it’s about to sink its talons into the crow, the crow dives away.

In “Message in a Bottle,” the City faces a dire threat. The City is not worried about birds but a plague. A man has to visit the Golden Scales monastery to try to determine if a deceased scholarly monk named Antigono Scaevola came up with a cure for the plague or created a deadlier version of the plague. Just as the wizard-nation is threatened by the birds, the City and the narrator are threatened by Scaevola’s potentially evil genius.

Although both stories speak to risk and obliteration, they do so with different techniques. Parker’s story contains traditional story elements with defined settings, characters, and an identifiable beginning, middle, and end. It’s possible to read El-Mohtar’s story as a work of experimental prose. If one prefers cross-genre writing, they might connect with “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds.” If one has a taste for stories with a clear plot (and a sense of humor), they could find themselves connecting with “Message in a Bottle.”

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