I read this book after watching Prince of Persia, and was searching for a fantasy story that was equally as exciting and that was also set in an exotic place. My brother recommended this, for they had read excepts of it in their high school class about Timbuktu and other fabled cities of old.
In 1310 AD, in the Mali Empire, a soldier is forced to team up with a witch in order to battle some super villains from this world and from another. To succeed in their mission for the emperor, they have to solve certain riddles, which means travelling across the empire to find the answers. In the process they are constantly harassed by all sorts of assassins and killers. Can the soldier use his mastery of the sword to help save the empire? Or will he succumb to a deadly female assassin who seems simply to enjoy killing and destruction? Is the witch's magic enough to save herself, the soldier and the empire, or would she succumb to the High Wizard of Tera-Hoole who will do anything to please the Dark Widow?
While the story itself is intriguing, with unpredictable twists and turns, some (especially younger readers), might find the writing style just a little bit much for them. At some points, it reads like a 19th century English novel, with eloquently constructed sentences and some fairly richly crafted dialogue. However, the dazzling action sequences often do a great job of keeping the reader focused and distracted from the sometimes difficult language.
The book is fairly well written, with the tension building up as the pages go by. This is a fairly different kind of African novel. I've read some African novels in school, such as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, but this one is more like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and seems simply to entertain, with no political undertones or messages (at least none that I could tell). Is it a super great read? Perhaps not. It is a good and entertaining read? Definitely.
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July 3, 2010
This book is a mix of history and fantasy. It is set in the Mali Empire, and reminded me a great deal of high school History class. While there is a lot of history in the book, it is still more of a fantasy book with sword wielding soldiers and assassins, wizards, witches, and sword. What I found most amazing about the book was that it presented Africa in a way that most people do not imagine. I never really knew before this book, that Africa had cities, towns, and even libraries and universities before European arrival. Even massive armies with swords, cavalry, and some types of armor are also described. I checked out most of this for authenticity and it turns out most are factual. It was amazing. But much more interesting about the book is the story itself. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes and you want to cry for the characters. The twists are quite unpredictable. I enjoyed the book immensely, although I think the writer should have done just a little bit more to tighten up the plot just slightly.
2 people found this helpfulComment
April 26, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
This was an excellent book. The story was super engaging, the details vivid and the writing very skilled. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen after every page. Very action packed as well. Highly recommend.