This is such an involved read that it’s difficult to decide where to start. …
Etinan and her sibling Xiang live on the moon Koriko, which is the under rule of Vaalbaran empire. Following the death of her lover, a Vaalbaran noblewomen, and the disappearance of Xiang, Etinan arranges to be taken as a hostage by the empire so she can find him. Now living as a “guest” of the empire, she is thrown headlong into the web of politics and treachery within the Splinter, the vast palace that serves as the capital residence of the empire.
But in her quest to find her missing sibling, and free her people from the yoke of the empire, she finds an unlikely, if not completely trustworthy ally: Menkhet Ta-Mui, the God-Emperor herself.
This book covered really was a lot of everything: an Afro futuristic novel that explores tradition, religion, technology, family and oppression. I thought, at first, that the writer might be trying to do too much, so I was pleasantly surprised that the book blended well- crafted prose with plenty of emotion, well-defined characters (including the incidentals), and an intriguing plot. There were a lot of characters in the book, and plenty of environments to get to grips with. Fortunately, the author did provide a character/location guide at the start with of the book – a nice touch.
It wasn’t big on laughs (not every book has to be) but it did have the occasional line or two that raised a smile. There was plenty of action along the way, some of it violent, but nothing I’d consider overdone. At its heart though, the story is about Etinan, her relationship with the God-Emperor, and the complex political machinations of Vaalbaran life.
If I were to make a criticism, I think it would be that the editing could have been a little tighter; it was a bit too wordy in places, and there were at least two places that I thought, “This would be a good place to bring the story to a close,” and was a little surprised that it carried on for another hundred pages or so.
Still, a really enjoyable book; if you’re into AfroFuturism, then it definitely belongs on your list