Book Review: Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade
Background Info on Sword and Soul: Soul and Sword is a genre that incorporates sword and sorcery with the mythology, folklore, and culture of Africa.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Desperate to marry off his beautiful but “tomboyish” duaghter, Esuseeke, the Emperor of Oyo, consults the Oracle. The Oracle tells the Emperor Esuseeke must marry the greatest warrior in all Onile (Afrika). To determine who is the greatest warrior, the Emperor hosts a grand martial arts tournament inviting warrior from all over the continent. Unknown to the warriors and spectators of the tournament a powerful evil is headed their way. Will the warriors band together against this evil?
My Review: One of the book’s strongest assets is its characters. There is an equal amount of strong female and male characters. For instance, Esusekke is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and using bow and arrow. Matching her combat skills is the male character Akin, who has the makings of a leader and a great warrior. Other examples include Akin’s mother Oyabakin and Akin’s father Geboya, who are wise and skilled fighters in their own right.
Other interesting characters include various creatures in the realm, including witches and wizards, assassins, and half-warriors with either animal or monstrous qualities. These secondary characters brought Onile, the alternate world of Africa, to life. Depending on the character, they either made the story action-packed or humorous.
Besides the characters. the plot is fast-paced and filled with action, adventure, and a little romance. It will hook the reader and make the book hard to put down.
The only flaw in the book is the story’s world. The author did a great job incorporating Yoruba mythology into Onile. However, since the plot is so fast-paced and the story less than two hundred pages, the reader doesn’t have enough time to enjoy Onile. Different areas of the continent are introduced so quickly that the reader may feel disoriented at times.
Overall, this was a great sword and soul book. I recommend it for people getting into the genre for the first time. I also recommend it to black fantasy fiction lovers looking to see themselves in the pages.