Monday, August 6, 2018

Children of Blood & Bone (Legacy of Orȉsha #1), by Tomi Adeyemi (author), Bahni Turpin (narrator)

MacMillan Audio, ISBN 9781250300119, March 2018

I loved this book. Now, if I can just say something more useful...

Tomi Adeyemi is Nigherian-American. This is a book grounded in Nigerian tradition, storytelling, and imagery, and reflecting, in mythic form, many of the tensions affecting contemporary American society. Because I listened ti the audiobook, I'm relying on Wikipedia for spellings.

The kingdom of Orȉsha once had a thriving culture of magic-wielding maji clans, living among the non-magical kosidàn. Then King Saran blamed the maji, all of them, for the death of his first family. He destroyed magic, by means that we don't fully understand at least in this first volume of the trilogy, and killed all the adult maji. Their underage children of likely magical talent, called diviners, are left alive, on the theory that they can now never become maji, but they and their kosidàn family members face punitive taxation and harsh punishment for even small offenses.

Zélie is a young diviner, about seventeen now, who saw her mother murdered by royal soldiers in what is referred to as "the raid," when Saran had all the maji killed. The first part of the book is about the events that led Zélie to launch an unlikely crusade to restore magic, with her even more unlikely ally, Saran's daughter, Princess Amari. Their equally determined opponent is Amari's brother, Crown Prince Inan. Zélie's brother, Tzain, like their father not magical at all, thinks this is a terrible idea until it becomes clear that the only alternative is that they'll all be killed--but he promised their dead mother and still-living Baba (father, in Yoruba), that he would protect Zélie no matter what.

We're taken on a journey through a brilliantly realized world, with characters who are complex, compelling mixes of good and bad, strength and weakness. This is, as I said, the first book of a trilogy, and there is a larger, overarching story, but this book is about Zélie's quest to bring back magic, and reaches a proper and satisfying interim conclusion.

I can't recommend this highly enough. I wasn't initially attracted to this book, but was pressed to read it by someone whose tastes have, I would have thought, not enough overlap for me to be able to trust a recommendation for what looked like simply the start of yet another multi-volume fantasy epic. Oh, how wrong I was! It is rich, original, not at all what I expected, and pulled me in almost immediately.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.