I buddy read this book with Toni and we both loved this book so much. Books like this prove why I love this genre so much. It’s so hard to review this book like I normally do so here is 5 reasons to read Raybearer.
Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko
Publication Date : August 18th 2020
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Read Date : July 16th 2022
Genre : High Fantasy / Ya Fantasy
Pages : 496
Tea for this book : SO many details and you need to stay focused… White Tea
*** I purchased this book.
This post contains affiliate links. ***
Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?
With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.
I still can’t believe this is a debut novel. I knew this book was good before purchasing or started reading but I didn’t expect this to turn out best book of the year. I loved this even more than Grishaverse world (can I dare to say more than SOC?!). It’s refreshing, reviving, spectacular, mind-blowing and so well written YA Fantasy. Here is 5 reasons to read Raybearer.
Gripping well structured plot, strong concept, lots of emotions and Setting of the palaces
I’m so much impressed by the plot and how it kept me engaged throughout the book. I loved the concept of a cursed child born to destroy the person she was taught to be loyal and grew to love.
There is so much happening in this book. Story is told in third person narrative from Tarisai’s perspective. It was smart to divide the story in four parts as it gave readers break needed to absorb all the details that was shared in every part and every chapter with many layers, turns and development. Each part ended with amazing twists making it fast-paced and engaging.
There are many questions throughout the plot that kept me reading until the mystery behind them is unraveled but the most important ones are, why Lady wanted revenge, if Tarisai can free herself from the curse or give in to it and kill the Prince, why Redemptors are born in Songland only and what she will do about it.
The plot is not just filled with amazing characters, world and twists, there is so much emotions, heart and soul in this book. I read in author’s note at the end of the second book (Yup, I finished that right after this) that it took author seven years to write Raybearer and I can see why, this is huge world with lost of possibility, and I can see author’s love for the book.
Story mostly takes place at Children’s Palace in capital city of Arit Empire where Tarisai is sent to be part of Prince’s council, be annoited by him and then kill him while small portion take place at Yorua Keep, another royal stronghold where Prince’s council live until Prince’s coronation. Both Palaces are exqisite, vividly described with its own history and stories.
Many themes and layers
The main theme of the story is Justice, revenge, belongingness and writing your own story without influence of any person. There are layers of family expectations, patriarchy, insecurity, curse, guilt complexion, loneliness, imperialism, political intrigue, trust, betrayal, manipulations, power, and greed… all very wonderfully woven with the emotions of the characters.
Immersive detailed world from beginning to end
This West-African inspired world of Arit Empire is huge… so huge. This is imaginative, vivid, specularly rich and detailed world. I will not suggest this book to readers new to this genre as they might feel overwhelmed by the world and all the details. Every chapter revealed something about the world in this book. There is so much to remember and every single detail given is intricately connected and important to the story. There is so many elements in the world itself.
Whoever follows my blog must know I love histories, myths and legends in the world the most and those are in abundance in this world.
I loved reading about Arit Empire’s foundation, what is Raybearer and Redemptors, Kuenleo lineage and Kuenleo family history, Empire’s treaty with underworld, myth/legend of Pelican/storyteller that created world and humans, what connected twelve realms, specialty of each realm, magical bushland with its evil spirits, and why Songland is not connected with twelve realms, why all redemptors are born in Songland only…. every information shared had its meaning.
Even with the united Arit Empire, all twelve realms have its own customs, religions, cultures, beliefs, and festivals that we learn about along with characters. Each realm has its own royalty and they take care of their own people and custom that makes us see the impacts of Imperialism in those realms and how that the fractures in the Empire.
The concept of magic and Ray and how it works is interesting. The story of how Kuenleo was given Ray and it stays in family was interesting and it felt strange how no princesses was given the Ray and they aren’t even mentioned but as story progressed we see more story of Princesses and real history of Ray which was heartbreaking. The magic is called Hallow that most citizen are born with, some can read stars, some can see weakness or strength, some can heal by singing and all our characters has such Hallows which is a requirement to be part of the prince’s council.
Prince’s council is another interesting part of the world. It is formed with one child from every realm for unity and all the tests children have to pass to be elected and annoited by Prince. With all memeber elected it makes Prince immortal of the 12 deaths who can only die at old age unless a council member betrays him. That is most brilliant and later in part four I was awed to read how that came to existence in first place.
Brilliant characterization and development
Tarisai of course is my most favorite character. She is smart, resilient, full of will and determination and unlike her manipulative mother, she is kind and compassionate with a strong conscience. My heart went out to her reading about her loveless, lonely childhood trapped in magical palace that no one can see, finding out about her father and how she was born, being a puppet of her mother, and how gossips among servants and tutors about her being half Ehru (elf/djin), being untouchable, made her feel monster, insecure and low.
I loved how she found family and belongingness she yearned for at Children’s Palace and later with her council brothers and sisters. It was great to see how being among them made her question things she was taught, how her love for Prince Ekundayo made her want to break the curse and her mother’s last wish, and what she did to delay that was unimaginable brave and courageous. It showed her unwavering loyalty and love for Dayo (Prince).
Her hallow of seeing memory by touching living or nonliving things is mindblowing. There was so much about her that created mystery like she feeling chest pains, headaches that we figure out as we know more about her mother. I liked her for questioning things, seeing the wrong in system and yearning to get justice. At first she blamed it on her half-monster self but like her mysterious ailing that too make sense as story progressed.
Her dilemma, guilt, helplessness, anger, and disbelief is touching. Like Sanjeet and Kirah I believed in her, wanting her to accept her worth, her magic, that she is more than what she is made for and what her mother wanted. I admired her even more on her first ruling and what she did at the end.
I loved Kirah, Sanjeet, and Dayo for believing in Tarisai, never losing hope in her… especially Kirah and Dayo for never doubting her intentions even though they knew more about her than Tarisai herself.
Kirah is my most favorite of three. She is lovely, honest, kind and most compassionate. I loved her most when she took a step towards Tari, towards believing in her and giving her second chance.
Dayo is interesting. He sure is weak and vulnerable but I liked seeing his strength that is people and his weakness of seeing good in everything or too trusting nature is also his strength. He is much better than his father in everything. He chose his council wisely and made them feel like family than patronizing them, and it was amazing how early he discovered the bond he and Tari shared and made it clear he want Tari beside him when he becomes ruler.
For a minute I thought there will be love triangle but this time I was wrong and Toni was right seeing the real bond between Tari and Dayo. I loved how they both complimented each other and how brilliant team they make when it come to ruling the empire.
Sanjeet added more layers to story by his backstory and I loved how that connected him and Tari most. I love Tari for seeing good in him, always defending him, making him feel better by taking away his nightmares and giving him her own memories. It broke my heart when he felt Tari betrayed him when he called her monster but I’m glad he realized his mistake and forgive her quicky.
I also liked The Lady’s friends, especially Woo In who played interesting role in the story. I loved how fierce and loyal he was, his fight for justice towards all Redemptor children, unfairness his country is facing past 500 years. It was interesting to know about Songland through him. His life story is tragic and it broke my heart to see him breaking and losing hopes.
I hate The Lady. She is smart and genius the villain of the story and Tari’s mother. She is selfish, cold, manipulative, hellbent on revenge and driven to destroy the lineage of Emperor. I didn’t like her for what she did to Melu, Tari’s father, making him Ehru and the way she raised Tari, then making her kill an innocent person who did nothing wrong to her. It was clear there is more to her, there is her story and reasons why she wanted Dayo dead but until it was revealed in part 3 all I could do is speculate and when it was revealed, for a minute I felt sorry for her. What happened to her was wrong, I could see why she turned cold, couldn’t see beyond her revenge and wanting power. It was sad to see how her goodness and kindness were lost forever.
Emperor is another person I hated. He is arrogant, coward, insecure, pompous prick. I’m still reeling at how this kind of person is ruling Artisar who couldn’t see anything beyond himself. I figured early in story he did something wrong to Lady and once it was revealed we see his true side. We also see how unfair he is through his idiotic decisions and how his own council kept things secret.
From adult council I liked only two people Mbali and Thaddace. I liked Thaddace in the beginning for taking Tari’s side then making her his heir to his chair and how much he loved Mbali. But we also see how being with Emperor made him see justice differently and his role as judge turn to please Emperor and nobles of realms. I don’t blame him for that or for what he did at the end. Mbali is only pure and lovely person who like Kirah and Dayo saw good in people. I loved her for saving Tari more than once and believing in her.
That last couple of chapters are fantastic filled with lots of emotions. For a second there is no hope and then adrenaline rush, I felt worried for Tari and scared for what Tari said and did. I totally agree it made her look rackless but I was so happy she founf her life pupose. It turned out bigger than everything, bigger than what it felt in the beginning of book. There are lost of surprises. I wasn’t expecting that visit but it showed how stubborn she was. That end, that visit from ghost/soul is perfect. There isn’t any cliffhanger but there is lot to keep readers holding their breath and hungry for next book.
Overall, this is perfection. I highly recommend this book to all fans of YA / High Fantasy. This is going to be one of the best book I read in 2022.
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,
What do you think about book and review?
Have you read this or plan to?
Which is the best high fantasy you read this year?
Just in case you missed–
Sign up to receive email whenever I publish new post-