Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (The Nameless Republic #1)
**We received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. This book comes out today! You can get it at your local independent bookstore or at the purchase links at the bottom of this post**
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: about 3/4 a bottle of wine.
A young scholar’s ambition threatens to reshape an empire determined to retain its might in this epic tale of violent conquest, buried histories, and forbidden magic.
In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands–which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist–and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields. Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso will have to set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore.
Drunk Overview: so basically you’ve got two wait three people in this story. Danso aka my son, accidentally read a book from the restricted section and know things he shouldn’t and oh he’s mixed race and that makes him low caste but he’s the only one in his caste in the university. His intended, Esheme, wants power and her mom is doing some bad things. Mama let in a “yellow skin” and no that’s not derogatory persay, their skin is literally the color yellow. Her name is Lilong and she came from islands that weren’t supposed to exist to get what E’s mama is doing. ANYWAY, naturally all three of these people clash and shit goes down.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: i liked this. It was slow, but I really like the world a lot.
Characters: ok so first there’s Danso. He’s my favorite. He just wants a better life and his heart is so pure. He doesn’t realize the effects his choices have on others and BOY foes he get called out for that, but he genuinely wants to learn. Esheme is everyone’s OG villain story. And unlike villain stories where they think what they’re doing is right, she makes decisions out of self preservation. She kinda sucks but a lot of her choices make sense. And then there’s Lilong who’s fine I guess. The sis de characters are mostly well rounded, Zaq is also a new child of mine, Nem (mama) is a tough cookie, and the second guy to E is brutal. They all have back stories and we understand why they did what they did.
Plot: this plot is SLOW. So much happens but it takes forever and I think it’s because of the over-descriptiveness of the prose. Since this is multi-POV, the author seems to think we need to be told the same things over and over to see what each character’s reaction will be but there are far better ways to do that. I do, however, need to know what happens next so, that’s a win,
Writing Style: see above
World Building: what an awesome magic system. And the political nature of this world is fascinating. A lot of showing, not telling, which is the best way to learn. Plus, it’s built on west African culture and I’m very happy that more of these stories are getting published. Such a rich set of lore to build in and it brings me joy. OH and that forest is terrifying.
What to pair it with: this feels like a Mai Thai, no it’s not a southeast Asian story, but it is the first thing I think of when I think of refreshing things to drink in the heat. And at its core, this is in the desert.
Trigger and Content Warnings
Emotionally manipulative relationship
Pregnancy and miscarriage/abortion
Violence, blood and murder
Amazon — https://amzn.to/3gjIGVv
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50718369-son-of-the-storm
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of speculative fiction inspired by his West-African origins. He is the author of David Mogo, Godhunter and his shorter works have appeared in Lightspeed, Nightmare, Strange Horizons and other periodicals and anthologies. He lives between Lagos, Nigeria and Tucson, Arizona where he teaches writing while completing his MFA in Creative Writing. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies everywhere else.
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,