Malika - Warrior Queen Part One
Roye Okupe, author
Set in fifteenth-century West Africa, Malika: Warrior Queen Part One follows the exploits of queen and military commander Malika, who struggles to keep the peace in her ever-expanding empire. Growing up as a prodigy, Malika inherited the crown from her father in the most unusual of circumstances, splitting the kingdom of Azzaz in half. After years of civil war, Malika was able to unite all of Azzaz, expanding it into one of the largest empires in all of West Africa. But expansion would not come without its costs. Enemies begin to rise within her council, and Azzaz grabbed the attention of one of the most feared superpowers the world has ever known: the Ming Dynasty. As Malika fights to win the clandestine war within the walls of her empire, she must now turn her attentions to an indomitable and treacherous foe with plans to vanquish her entire people.
As the queen of the empire of Azzaz—a nascent, fictional 15th-century West African nation—Malika grapples with internal rebellion, Chinese invaders, and mounting insurrection from her Council of Five, the representatives of the country’s five provinces. On the battlefield, Malika can take out five rebels with a single swing of her sword (and a jaguar with a well-placed kick). And she’s just as assured when facing questioning from her council, though readers also see her struggle with how best to show strength, which comes to a head with the arrival of the king of Atala, Malika’s secret husband, who possesses supernatural wind-based powers. Okupe balances exposition, plot progression, and action within each chapter, providing a smooth introduction to the machinations and mythologies of this world (interspersed notes touch on the real-life inspirations behind Azzaz). Befitting the story of a fierce, confident queen who rules from the front lines as much as from her throne, Kalu’s cinematic artwork is dominated by battle scenes but also highlights the empire’s landscape of sand, rocks, and forests, as well as the cultural diversity of its people. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)