The Final Strife
The Aktibar – a set of trials held every ten years to find the next Ember rulers of the Empire – is about to begin. All can join but not just anyone can win; it requires great skill and ingenuity to become the future wardens of Strength, Knowledge, Truth and Duty. Sylah was destined to win the trials and be crowned Warden of Strength. Stolen by blue-blooded rebels she was raised with a Duster’s heart; forged as a weapon to bring down from within the red-blooded Embers’ regime of cruelty. But when her adopted family were brutally murdered those dreams of a better future turned to dust. However, the flame of hope may yet be rekindled because Sylah wasn’t made to sparkle, she was born to burn.
Reviewed on 3rd September 2022
This first book in a new trilogy, heavily marketed to me by the publisher, opens in the classic fantasy fashion of throwing a bunch of terminology at me without fully explaining it. While this can be a bad sign, in this case it was not, and I was soon absolutely hooked.
It’s a rich and fascinating world that El-Arifi has created, with layer upon layer of complexity which peeks through to the reader, sometimes more than to the characters, and hints of so much more to come.
There is a strong theme of equality running through, obviously being parallels to classism, racism, and slavery. But there’s also a lot of the world that in other ways is very tolerant and diverse - covering LGBTQ+ and disabilities, making sure that despite the focus of the man plot, there is broad representation in this world.
The book is rich in themes, and centres on friendship, family, and duty. I imagine that every reader will be able to pick out their own unique empathies within the text.
The marketing team did their job well matching me to this book, and I’m now waiting to get my hands on more by this author as soon as it’s available.