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A Song of Wraiths & Ruin: 06/29/20
A Song of Wraiths & Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown is the start of a new fantasy series set in an alternate Africa that blends West African folklore and North African history. Malik and his two sisters are looking for a better life in the city state of Ziran. Meanwhile Karina, the princess and heir to the throne is suddenly faced with being the Sultana when her mother is assassinated on the night before the Solstasia festival, a multiple day event that restores the power of the barrier that keeps Ziran safe.
On Malik's first day in Ziran, having literally just arrived, he loses his youngest sister to Idir. To win her back, he must kill Karina. Things are complicated when Malik, under an assumed name, becomes the Champion of Adanko, the Goddess of Life, to compete in the Solstasia games.
Told in alternating points of view, we're given both sides of a complex world with a complex history. Through Malik we learn about the poverty, war, and famine that those outside of Ziran are suffering from. We see the great city through the eyes of a desperate immigrant. From Karina, we see a kingdom fraying at the edges. An apparent thriving metropolis has a dark history.
Of recent fantasies I've read, A Song of Wraiths & Ruin has some of the best world building I've seen. The world is revealed through organic means, with the characters living their lives, through story tellers at the festival, through the Solstasia games, through exploration, and so forth.
Together, Malik and Karina's journeys find placement on the road narrative spectrum. As Malik is serving as a champion and Karina is the sultana, they are both privileged travelers (00). Though they have different goals, both are influenced by Ziran's history, and thus their destination is uhoria (CC). The path they take is the maze because there are traps and dangers at every turn (CC). Altogether, the novel can be summarized as two privileged travelers going to uhoria via the maze (00CCCC).
The second book in the series, A Psalm of Storms & Silence is scheduled for release sometime in 2021.