Title: Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic #1)
Author: Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Genre: Adult Fantasy / African Culture
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for an earc to read in exchange for a review!
“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.” (Goodreads)
What a journey this book was!
The book starts off with a prologue introducing a character named Oke, who is in charge of a big secret. We don’t know what it is but the setup has it to be something big and too grave to be put in the wrong hands. Later on in the book there is more about Oke and her role in everything that ends up unfolding. I do wish there was more from her but I do have a feeling that she will be in the next book.
The next chapter is from Danso. He is learning at a university and is worried about expulsion. As a jali novitiate, he is learning to be a scholar-historian. His complexion is not dark enough for those in his city of Bassa. He is ridiculed by it and called a Shashi, which is a slur. Danso also has a lot more on his shoulders. His father wants him to be the head of the household and remain loyal to his duties whether he wants that life or not. It’s a lot of pressure, especially if you are a dreamer who wants more.
As the story progresses, more point-of-views are introduced. Including the two talked about, there are nine in total. This is definitely a lot. This may not be a book for you if you don’t like multiple point-of-views, but each one does add to the overall plot and we learn more about the characters and why each of them chooses the road they take.
One of those characters that makes a big impact on the page is Esheme. She is a very strong woman and quite scary at times. Just like Danso, she knows what it is liked to be marginalized by others which is why she understands him. She grows through a lot of character growth and she does do very questionable things for the sake of power. Honestly, she surprised me the most.
When it comes to Bassa, you are judged by the color of your skin as I mentioned above. The darker skin you have the better. The Upper Council (who’s in charge of Bassa) believes that their city is being diluted due to the enormous population of immigrants. The ones with power, who are true citizens (as they would say) hire private security. The Bassai Upper Council are in it for themselves and what they can gain out of it all.
Since this deals with a city and their government, the books plot has a lot to do with politics. There is a lot of talk about immigration and what happens when the people are not heard, as well as smaller topics. There is so much to dive into and the author does a great job of making the topics standout as well as making them resemble the very same topics in our own world.
The plot doesn’t focus on any romances but there are minor sex scenes. There is also quite a bit of gore but it’s not often that it happens.
When it comes to the pacing, there is a lot going on for the characters but it can be slow going at times. Some chapters (point-of-views) were easier to get through than others but I still managed to read this book in a decent time because I needed to know what would happen next.
There were good plot twists that kept it all going and the ending was nicely done but also left on a cliffhanger.
The only thing I have left to talk about is the magic system. There isn’t a lot about it but what is included in the first book was fun to learn about. Not everyone can wield it but those that do have crazy powers, but it all comes with a price. I am hoping to see more about it in the next book.
Overall, this was really good. It was a solid start to a new series and I will be looking forward to reading the sequel.