“I can’t imagine a world where the man holding a sword does not have the last say over the man without one.”
The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for 200 years with the natives of a land they tried to claim as their new country. The entire society is built and structured for war. Their castes are built around people who are stronger, faster, bigger and more gifted than others and is maintained strictly with a punishment of death if ever challenged. Born of a lower caste, Tau knows his fate in life is to be killed or used as fodder for the war but he has a plan to avoid that.
He plans to get injured, receive an honorable discharge and live out the rest of his life with the love of his life, but his plans get interrupted when his father is brutally murdered in front of him because of a perceived insult to a higher born. Tau decides to become the greatest swordsman that ever lived in an effort to avenge his father’s death. All of this is going down with a backdrop of a struggling empire, queendom and plans of treachery and coup afoot.
“He was not the strongest, the quickest, or the most talented, not by any measure. He knew this and knew he could not control this. However, he could control his effort, the work he put in, and there he would not be beaten.”
I bought this book not knowing the author was Black. I stumbled upon it on Goodreads, read the many glowing reviews and bought it. Then I saw some super Nigerian character names and decided to google who exactly wrote this book and out pops a Black man! I was pleasantly surprised. This book was originally self published in September 2017 but was given new life when it was acquired by Orbitz and Winter signed on to write a 4 book series for them.
I’m a sucker for blood thirsty, vengeful protagonists so I ate this book up. I love fantasy where a sort of training school is involved and we get to watch the main character grow in skill and purpose. Tau goes to such limits to perfect his swordsmanship. He lived for his revenge and didn’t care if it led to his death or not. He was out to prove that his caste had nothing to do with his ability to be greater, faster and stronger than the higher born and went about it with such doggedness.
“The days without difficulty are the days you do not improve.”
I enjoyed how fast paced this book was, it hit the ground running right after the prologue. We get a look at the thinking of the colonizers, the Omehi people crashed unto this land that already had occupants but believed their gods led them there and therefore, they felt entitled to it. We get a look into the caste system, privilege and a lot of other concepts that are relevant to our world today without being preachy. Tau is such a hot headed boy, he almost reminds me of Harry Potter, always rushing into dangerous situations believing that they’re in the right and then letting other people clean up their mess. I was so frustrated with some of the actions he took in this book but is revenge ever a rational, and utterly noble pursuit?
“That’s the price. Life is nothing more than moments in time. To achieve greatness, you have to give up those moments. You have to give your life to your goal.”
I really enjoyed this book. Gave it 5 stars on Goodreads! If you are at all interested in fantasy or looking to get into it. Please give this book a go!