#CBR11Bingo – And So It Begins
Until that night the maji were able to survive because they used their powers to defend themselves. But eleven years ago, magic disappeared. Only the gods know why (15).
This book has been on a lot of “must-read” lists and I’m a fan of writers who draw on diverse cultural traditions to develop their fantasy worlds. One of the things that surprised and intrigued me was how even though this novel is set in a fictional country/region, the story has so many connections to our reality. Whether it’s the slave trade in North America, the genocide in Rwanda, or the current situation involving the police/justice system and people of color—all of these things have echoes in Tomi Adeyemi’s novel, Children of Blood and Bone (the first in a series).
The novel tells the story of four young people, two pairs of siblings, who are caught up in larger historical events. For many years, Orisha was home to both maji (people who could wield magic) and kosidan (those who couldn’t) and as the two groups mingled, the number of maji (or diviners) grew. When a ruthless kosidan king, Saran, with an intense hatred of the maji and their abilities comes to power, he not only finds a way to block the connection between maji and the gods that give them their power but engages in genocide—decimating much of the maji population and enslaving/restricting the rest. The night that magic died and death descended is known as “The Raid.”
Two of the siblings, Zelie and her brother Tzain, are the children of a powerful maji woman (with the power to raise the dead) and a kosidan man. As a child, Zelie watched soldiers drag her mother from their house and brutally murder her. Now, she trains as a fighter in secret, dreaming of the day that magic returns, but distracted by the everyday challenges her family faces living under a brutal regime. Unlike her brother, Zelie has white hair—a sign that she is connected to the gods and a characteristic that isolates her from others.
Amara and Inan are the children of the King Saran. While Inan is a dutiful son, serving with his father’s troops and fully believing his father’s ideas about the Raid being necessary to save the kosidan and his own family, Amara is not so compliant. When she witnesses the murder of her servant and friend, Binta, she makes a decision that will change everything and bring her into contact with Zelie and her brother.
Tomi Adeyemi has done a masterful job of creating a world with strong elements of our own but using the complex spiritual traditions from a number of African countries. As many series do, this ends with a cliffhanger so I am eager to find out what happens next.