Samiyah, a young peasant on a quest to find love and honor, wins a chance to attend the royal ball. Beyond her wildest dreams, she finds herself dancing in the arms of Prince Chad, heir to the throne.
As there brews a violent struggle between the brutal ruling-class and the oppressed peasantry, Chad and Samiyah's growing, talk-of-the-town love spawns whispers of bloody uprisings and plots of swift usurpation.
This book captivated me from the first chapter. Opening into mystery and suspense is a gripping way to introduce a story, and hooks me in every time. Quickly introduced to colorful characters and a diverse culture from my own, my imagination had plenty to feast on.
Stories about war, especially dark fantasies, are a guilty pleasure of mine. When they are well written, with a pace that flows like butter, I can't get enough. The Ivory Staff definitely qualifies on all accounts, and quickly became a favorite read for 2017. I immediately wanted to know more about the mysterious war, the missing parents, the orphaned boy, and the strong, passionate girl who didn't tolerate being pitied. As the story progressed, I was pulled further into this fantasy, caught up in the dark politics, corruption, and enormous chances taken in love.
Samiyah and Chad's story is mainly told after the fact, to the teenager Maliko by his uncle Pan (the king), and his chief male servant and friend, Saab. Experiencing the stories told to Maliko as he hears them for the first time was a creative way to explain the past, and answer the questions both Maliko and the reader itch to have answered. Filled with clashes of classes, a lottery of a ball for Chad to pick a bride, and rebellious passion, the overall story is captivating. Even though the place is made up, it's easy to imagine it exists, as it pulls you into it's fantasy.
While I'm sure the written version is very good, I had the pleasure of experiencing the audiobook. The narrator did a wonderful job with the characters, and seemed to fit the story very well. His voice pulled me into Mutarobi, giving the story wonderful layers of depth. Considering the story is nearly thirteen hours, I'd say he is definitely a talented narrator, as every minute was captivating.
This is definitely a book to add to your reading list, written or audiobook format. I'm sure it won't disappoint. I would definitely look out for more works by this author, and am grateful to have had the opportunity to escape into this story for a few days.
*I was given a complimentary audiobook edition of this book, from the author, to listen to in exchange for an honest review.
@Desert Rose Reviews