Archive for the ‘Fantasy Fiction (People of Color)’ Category
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Matile Mala, once the most powerful empire in the black continent of Abengoni, is slipping slowly into decadence, and becoming more and more vulnerable to aggression from the nations and tribes it once dominated. In the capital, Khambawe, ancient rituals endure, dominated by dreams and delusions. As Tiyana, who is both priestess and princess, conducts one such ceremony, known as First Calling, the rite is disrupted by the arrival of a half-wrecked ship from Fiadol, a far-distant land across the sea that is almost forgotten by the Matile. Led by a Seer called Kyroun, the pale-skinned people on the ship seek refuge among the Matile.
But the Matile themselves are in need of aid, as they soon come under attack from their ancient enemies, the Uloans, who have flourished while the Matile waned. Along with her father – the High Priest Gebrem –Tiyana marshals the waning forces of Matile magic in conjunction with the powerful new sorcery wielded by Kyroun and his followers in an effort to forestall the threat of imminent annihilation.
As the Matile and Uloans clash, other foes of the fading empire wait on the sidelines, like vultures circling a battlefield. The newcomers from Fiadol hold the balance of destruction – and Tiyana must anticipate which way the scale will tip …
My Review: One of the best aspect of the book is the incredible cast of characters the author has created. They come from different social classes, races, and countries. An important factor is that these characters are inspired by both African and Celtic cultures and myths. Some notable characters include the courageous and dutiful Tiyana, the pious and powerful Kyroun, the hardened and deadly gangs of impoverished tsotsi theives, and the secretive Tokoloshe dwarves.
Besides the characters, the mythology and sword and sorcery is extremely well done. Chapters involving the deities called the Jagasti and the god Almolvaar were thrilling, as were chapters involving the magic power wielded by the Mantile and Fidadol people. While swordplay is also exciting enough to make the reader turn the page, the bloodshed also sobers the reader and makes them pity the characters.
In addition to the characters, mythology, and sword and sorcery, certain plot themes stand out well. Most of the themes are serious and deal with imperialism, classism, vengeance, and xenophobia. Yet happier themes include tolerance, compassion, and reconciliation. These themes breathe life into the characters and plot, entertaining the reader while encouraging them to think about what they are reading.
Overall, this book was a fantastic start to the Abengoni saga. If you love epic sword and sorcery or sword and soul, then read this book.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.
My Review: One of the best things about the book is its main character Yiene. She is a compelling character because of how complex she is. She is physically strong because she can defend herself with a knife and her fists, yet she is emotionally vulnerable because she recently lost her mother. Her Arameri and Darr heritage makes her identity torn between a ruling family and a “barbaric” family. As the story progresses, there are other dualities that are revealed that develop her character even more until she is self actualized.
Another great thing about this book are the secondary characters. Most of them don’t fit the neat categories of good or evil, so the reader is made to feel mixed emotions about them. The most compelling characters are the gods Itempas and Nahadoth and the godling Sieh. Their powers are awe-inspiring, their personalities are intriguing, and their situation is sympathetic.
Besides the main character Yiene and the secondary characters, the setting is very imaginative and amazing. According to the appendix in the back of the book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a term for the world since it was unified under Arameri rule. Sky is the palace of the Arameri and it houses one god, some godlings, and the Arameri. Darr is a tribal country with mostly female warriors and a harrowing rites of passage ritual.
In addition to the characters and the setting, the magic system and mythology is very creative. Notable aspects are the creation story of the gods and godlings, how the gods and godlings can be controlled, and the Seed of the Earth.
A final notable aspect of the book is how it deals with racism, classism, colonialism, and power struggles. These themes are weaved so well into the plot that readers will want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. Furthermore, the way that these issues impact Yiene will make readers either relate to or sympathize with her.
Overall, this was a great beginning to The Inheritance Trilogy. I recommend it to any fantasy fiction lover.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): With youth, beauty and a voice like liquid gold, life was right on track for Kamaria DeKosse; then she met Jack and decides to toss caution to the wind. Jack thought he enjoyed his orderly life of power and control, until he met Kama. Together they have a passion that runs wild and crazy, something neither of them knows how to handle. Kama learns a secret about Jack that not only threatens her promising career but her very life. And just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, life takes her up on her challenge.
My Review: One of the best things about this book is its main character Kamaria. She is a half Irish-half black young woman who is training to be a professional opera singer at Julliard. Her parents’ wealth and her personal goals Kamaria have high standards for herself and certain things, but she isn’t a snob. She is a complex character who is somewhat awkward, witty, opinionated, flawed, and classy. After the climax of the plot occurs, she becomes a brave and loyal kick-butt heroine.
Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was its plot. It was clever how the plot seemed to follow the post-Twilight series paranormal romance storyline until the book’s climatic plot twist. After that plot twist, the reader’s assumptions are turned upside down and the plot becomes fast-paced with action and drama. There is also some romance and steamy sexual situations, but nothing too explicit. The romance between Kamaria and Jack was believable because it was gradual rather than instant.
In addition to the characters and the plot, the author’s writing style was very good. In addition to Kamaria’s point of view, the author sometimes switches to Jack’s point-of-view for certain chapters. The dialogue between Jack and his inner wolf was very intriguing and the dialogue with Kamaria talking to herself was humorous.
Besides the characters, plot, and writing style, the paranormal world that was created was very well done. The way the werewolf pack was organized in terms of rank, how the werewolves move up the rank, and the prejudice that exists between certain packs enriched the storyline and the setting. In addition, some vampires are creatively added to the story to move the plot along at times.
Overall, this was a great book. If you are tired of typical paranormal romance stories, then I recommend this book.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the ground breaking Griots Anthology leaves off. Charles R. Saunders and Milton J. Davis present seventeen original and exciting Sword and Soul tales focusing on black women. Just as the Griots Anthology broke ground as the first Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots: Sisters of the Spear pays homage to the spirit, bravery and compassion of women of color. The griots have returned to sing new songs, and what wonderful songs they are!
My Review: One of the best things about this anthology is the black women characters in the stories. They are warriors, magic users, goddesses, queens, and more. They are positive representations that show black women can just as good as black men or surpass black men in certain ways.
In addition, almost all of the characters juggle multiple roles that add complexity to who they are. Furthermore, personality traits such as kindness, bravery, and resilience make certain characters very admirable.
Another great aspect of these stories is the magic featured in some of them. Many of the stories are really brought to life because of certain magical creatures or events. For example, one story involves a warrior girl who has a brother who can shape shift into a lion.
Besides the black women and the magic, the pacing of most of these stories is really good. There is action and adventure in many of these stories, so the pacing becomes fast enough that the reader wants to know how the story will end. If they find themselves craving for more, they will find themselves moving on to the next story until they reach the end of the book.
Overall, this is a fantastic anthology. I recommend this book to black women who want to see good representations of themselves in fantasy fiction.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Jordan Amador. 23. New Yorker. Waitress. Investigator for souls with unfinished business, also known as a Seer. Michael O’Brien. 25. New Yorker. Lead guitarist. Commander of Heaven’s Army. The dynamic supernatural duo is in the middle of trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one.
After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost. When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?
My Review: One of the best things about this book is the author’s writing style. The thought-provoking epigraphs, humorous pop culture references, and detailed action scenes from the first book are still present in the second book. In addition, the author does a good job writing this book from two points-of-view, Jordan’s and Michael’s.
Besides the author’s writing style, the way Jordan and Michael’s relationship was portrayed in the book was very well done. You can see how much Jordan and Michael care for each other when they are together and apart. Things like knowing what makes the other tick and using the same “I just kicked your butt” catchphrase show how close Jordan and Michael have become.
In addition, the character development is good. Although new personal demons confront Jordan, she works through them while kicking demon butt. Michael has some anger issues that he learns to handle as he juggles his multiple roles.
Other characters that play an important role include Jordan’s mother and adoptive father, the archangel Gabriel, and the archdemon Belial. Jordan’s mother and adoptive father do a good job guiding Michael and Jordan from above. Gabriel is a strong fighting partner and a caring friend to Jordan. Belial is a complicated factor, but his involvement with Jordan and Michael makes him a striking character.
Finally, the book’s moral is something anyone can relate to. By the end of the book, the reader is shown that sometimes life and people aren’t always black and white. There is a grey area in almost everyone, whether it be yourself, a parent, or a lover.
Overall, this was a great sequel to The Black Parade. If you enjoyed The Black Parade, then definitely read this book.
Related Link: Book Review of The Black Parade Book 1
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.
Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Jordan Amador. 21. New Yorker. Waitress. Mild alcoholic. Murderer. Two years ago, Jordan accidentally shot and killed a Seer: a person who can see, hear, and talk to ghosts with unfinished business. Her crime came with a hefty price, too. She has two years to help a hundred souls cross over to the afterlife or her soul is bound for hell. Tough break.
As if that weren’t bad enough, two days before her deadline a handsome pain-in-the-ass poltergeist named Michael strolls into her life. His soul is the key to her salvation, but the cost just might be more than she can handle. Solving his death puts her right in the crosshairs of Belial: a vain, bloodthirsty archdemon who won’t rest until she’s his slave. Can she rescue Michael and save her own soul, or will they both be dragged down into the clutches of the eternal black parade?
My Review: One of the best things about the book is its main characters Jordan and Michael. Jordan is a Hispanic and black young woman who can handle herself physically but not emotionally. At first, she can only defend herself with martial arts and a gun, but is vulnerable because of a traumatic past. As the story moves forward, she becomes physically and emotionally stronger. Overall, she is someone anyone can relate to, but she is a really good protagonist for women of color.
Meanwhile, Michael is a helpful, friendly poltergeist for some chapters until he discovers a bigger identity. Once he does, he starts becoming closer to Jordan by being a source of emotional comfort as well as a mentor that teaches Jordan to develop new abilities. Even though he becomes protective over Jordan, he still treats her with respect and allows her to live her life and make her own choices.
Besides the main characters, the setting of the story was very creative. It is reminiscent of the television show Supernatural, because behind the real world lies a word of angels, demons, and ghosts. The author did a good job blending the supernatural world with the real world, especially when it came to how these worlds affected Jordan’s life.
Also, the plot of the story was very compelling. There are action scenes that are described so that the reader is holding their breath. Besides this, the romance develops at an appropriate pace. Also, emotionally heavy scenes make the reader sympathize with Jordan without overdoing the drama. Furthermore, the humor that occurs between Jordan and other characters will make the reader chuckle or smile.
In addition, the themes of love and hatred were woven into the story well. For instance, Jordan struggles to overcome her self-hatred and realize she is capable of being loved by someone. Another example is Jordan’s mother representing love, and Jordan’s Aunt Carmen representing hate. These themes give the story a good message.
Overall, this book was a fantastic read. I recommend this to urban fantasy fans, especially if you enjoy the television shows Supernatural and Castle. Furthermore, I recommend this to people of color, especially females who are looking for a good representation of themselves in fantasy. Due to the strong violence, mild alcohol use, and strong sexual content, I also recommend this book for older teens and up.