In the Sixteenth-century multi-racial African town of Idumagbo, there existed religious and racial harmony. There lived a young peasant who became literate as a result of the travails of her once-enslaved grandmother.
This is the story of their battles, triumphs, tragedies, and how a once vibrant, tolerant, and curious society came to be eclipsed
Despite a plot that could rival any epic, this tale of an unlikely prince’s ascent is unfortunately let down by a myriad of missteps. Unclear transitions, awkward exposition (“No one really knew why the animosity between the king and his brother came about,” the narrative states before explaining exactly why), inconsistencies, and dropped side plots present the reader with many challenges. The plot could easily sustain a trilogy; squeezed into only 400 pages, it has little room to breathe, and quick progress through exciting turns of events comes at the expense of setups, payoffs, and detail. The dramatic death of a central character in a battle against an invading army passes almost without notice.
Readers who employ their own imaginations to fill in the gaps will find much to appreciate in the bones of the story, and especially the characters: Keniola becoming a crowd favorite as she reclaims her throne after tragedy, Adeolu demonstrating his single-mindedness and vast intelligence, Abiodun rivaling the great villains of history with his savagery and nepotism. This treacherous and twisty royal family, the appealing setting, and the bold ending hint at Olajide’s potential.
Takeaway: Readers who enjoy royal intrigue where power plays and succession debates outweigh action will most appreciate this 16th-century West African palace drama.
Great for fans of Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God, Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: C+