Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is the first in a YA duology following a young girl named Tarisai who is raised in isolation by her mother, the Lady. When she gets older her mother sends her to the capital of the empire they live within to compete with other children to be chosen for the Prince’s council. If she is, her mother has used magic to compel her to kill him.
I listened to this book via audio, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, and this is a beautiful way to read this book. It was incredibly well done and I enjoyed how Abbott-Pratt altered her voice to match various characters.
One of my only negatives about this book was in the characters representations. For the main characters: Tarisai, the Prince Dayo, her love interest, and her best friend (as well as antagonists such as the Lady and Tarisai’s father) are well developed and fleshed out. With great depths to them and a lot of development through the book. But there are certain people who aren’t. In this world the Prince has a council of 11 who he is mind-linked with, they all know each other inside out and physically become ill if apart from each other. And yet. We barely know anything about the other 8 members of the council. I could tell you the names of the other two friends (but I’m not in case you’d consider it spoilers) but with the rest of the council? No clue. It was the only real negative of the book, because it felt quite unrealistic that these people so intrinsically linked wouldn’t be more prevalent in Tarisai’s mind.
This book is primarily plot based, and I was utterly absorbed by it. There is so much going on within this Empire and so many stories that Tarisai hears of. Ifueko has mentioned that all of these cultures are made up, but the themes are based on religions that she was exposed to throughout her life. With Tarisai’s best friend’s religion (People of the Wing) being based upon a sect of Christianity that believes in covering their hair with prayer shawls. I loved learning about the magic system within this universe as well, and without spoiling events of the end of the book, I am very excited to dive into book two and learn some more about this world!
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 9, giving a score of 8.57 and an average of 4.5*.
Highlight here for trigger warnings: death (including parental), domestic abuse, fire, genocide, gore, memory loss, mental illness, misogyny, murder, parental abuse (emotional), rape (referenced), suicide (referenced), unwanted pregnancy.
This was an absolutely fantastic story and one that I waited far too long to get into! I’m so glad that I’ve finally read it and I really need to finish up this duology sooner rather than later!! (don’t hold me to that 😅)