Most of the books on my unread stack are both non fiction and rather heavy in the subject matter. I decided it was time for a break, for some fiction, some fantasy, something fun. I had heard recently of a book my a young African American author by the name of Tomi Adeyemi
It is apparently aimed at a YA audience, but it has received excellent all around reviews, so I took a trip to the book store and brought home a 500+ paged hard backed book to read. Fortunately I ordered online for pickup at the store, which is probably a good thing as the size of the book may have discouraged me after my recent slog through a book less than half the size. I am so glad I didn’t that have the chance to change my mind, as I devoured this book with a hunger I have not had for anything outside of the Mistborn series.
The book is set in the magical country of Orisha, a fictional land in a fictional world, however it is clear that the heart of the land is Africa. Orisha is an enticing land of magic and large domesticated wild animals; the heroine rides her Lionaire, Nailah, seemingly a large horned lion. The Orishan people are divided in 2 groups, the Kosidan who do not have the potential to do magic & the Magi who have magic and are identifiable by their white hair.
There is great conflict in the land, the King a Kosidan, has tried, seemingly successfully, to rid their world of magic. It began with the raids, where the Magi (the people with magical powers) were killed indiscriminately, the younger Diviners (children who are born for magic, but have not received their powers yet) were left alive, however their parents have to pay ever increasing taxes on them to avoid them joining the stocks. The stocks are the slave systems, most of the young people that in the past would have grown up to wield magic, are now caught with no powers in an abusive system of slavery.
The system of magic in the book is both inventive and well delivered. The ethical quandaries of how and when it should be used and by whom are not overlooked and broader questions of those implications in are world are clear to see. There is not only a great story here, but also a well delivered message on ethics, morality and the sanctity and dignity of life.
Our hero is Diviner called Zelie, who lost her Magi mother in the raids. She is a talented and passionate young woman who has impulsive tendencies that seem invariably to not have the results she was looking for. She is accompanied by her brother, Tzain, on her grand adventure to try and save magic and redeem the kingdom. There are a couple of other major characters at play in the story too, but I want you to read this book, so I am not offering any spoilers.
There is a delightful flow to the book. It dances around the perspectives of the main protagonists to weave a rich tapestry of intrigue. The tension slowly builds throughout the book, just when you think you know what is going to happen, then narrative twists and the turns again, and again. It is a majestic piece of story telling, a wonderfully written and engaging story that will delight you.