Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
Published by: Macmillan
Fiction: YA, Fantasy; 531p
Rating: 3 and a half/5 stars
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy
Tomi Adeyemi’s debut Children of Blood and Bone, set in the fictional land of Orïsha is the first in a trilogy and has all the usual elements aimed at getting the attention of the YA reading crowd: fantasy, elements of magic, revenge, retribution, royal blood caught with conflicting emotions, situations fraught with danger and tension…and more. Juxtaposed with the familiar YA and fantasy elements are themes of torture in authoritarian regimes and heavy racial undertones. I found the differentiation of the colour tone of black skin quite overwhelming: copper black, mahogany…
At the center of all the action are three main characters: Zélie, Princess Amari and her brother Inan who is the Prince and then, to a lesser extent, there is Tzain the older brother of Zélie who is as all brothers are to their sisters: protective and teasing in equal parts. The tension between the four characters comes in due to the ruthlessness of King Saran who is Amari and Inan’s father and from the horrifying violence he has unleashed on the Majis who have access to magic.
Zélie’s anger is embedded in the memories of The Raid that was unleashed on King Saran’s orders in which her mother was cruelly snatched from her. What is left of the Majis after destruction has been wrought on them are mere lessons on fighting with the staff as a defense mechanism and never as a form of offence or attack. Circumstances bring a mysterious and magical scroll into the hands of Zélie courtesy a streak of rebellion by Princess Amari which is brought on by a reality check that makes her see the brute savagery of her father. An elder recognizes that the latent powers of not just Zélie but the entire Majis can be brought back when the scroll is aligned with two other elements even as King Saran sends Iman hot on the heels of Amara, Zélie and Tzain.
During the course for the quest for magic, bonds are formed and tested with Zélie distrusting Amara and the later getting close to Tzain. What I loved best about the character of Zélie in Children of Blood and Bone is that despite swearing retribution on King Saran and a quest for getting magic to the Majis, she recognizes that the power of magic can be useful but also be misused if unleashed over each and every Maji. When Zélie reaches out to Prince Iman who has forever lived under the control of his father, she does so first with insults, then taunts him but she recognizes the connection to him and then forges a strong connection through which she awakens his inherent goodness. But would this be enough? The sequence of events that play out is what constitutes part of the answer here.
I am doubly glad that even as the character of Iman is poignant and intense, it is another female character, that of Princess Amara who comes to her own. She starts off as spoilt and privileged and then her humane nature shines through as does her sheer courage and fortitude. Towards the last pages of the book, it was delicious to feel that the next instalment of Children of Blood and Bone is going to have more of Amara. Two strong women characters and a gripping story line should be enough to wait for the next part in the trilogy! And yet, I personally felt that there could have been more to Children of Blood and Bone even as I cannot zero in on where I feel something is missing…strange I know! But then, some books even as you enjoy reading them and feel for the characters still you with a sense of ‘there could have been more!’. This is that book for me.
Thank you Anupama aka @born_2_read for sending this e copy from your treasure chest!