Summary and book reviews of Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer

by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko X
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2020, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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About this Book

Book Summary

The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent - perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir.

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.

Chapter 1

I SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED THAT FAIRIES EXIST.

When elephants passed by in a lumbering sea beneath my window, flecks of light whispered in the dust, dancing above the rows of tusks and leather. I leaned precariously over the sill, hoping to catch a fleck before a servant wrestled me inside.

"Shame-shame, Tarisai," my tutors fretted. "What would The Lady do if you fell?"

"But I want to see the lights," I said.

"They're only tutsu sprites." A tutor herded me away from the window. "Kind spirits. They guide lost elephants to watering holes."

"Or to lion packs," another tutor muttered. "If they're feeling less kind."

Magic, I soon learned, was capricious. When I squinted at the swollen trunk of our courtyard boab tree, a cheeky face appeared. Kye, kye, killer-girl, it snickered before vanishing into the bark.

I was seven when the man with cobalt-fire wings found me. That night, I had decided to search Swana, the second-largest realm in the Arit empire, for my mother. ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In Raybearer, Ifueko opens the genre of fantasy further, stepping beyond old tropes and stories of power struggles to present something new. She proves that fantasy can be simultaneously diverse, political, and filled with wonder, and in dialogue with more than just a tradition. It's a development that the genre has desperately needed for a long time. She also proves that it's possible to explore the themes of imperialism and colonialism in fantasy without alienating readers and in a way that proffers a new kind of solution at the end, where new potential worlds can be envisioned. Readers who have already explored the worlds crafted by authors such as Tomi Adeyemi and Tamora Pierce will love Raybearer and eagerly await Ifueko's next venture, whether set in Aritsar or another world altogether...continued

Full Review (465 words).

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(Reviewed by Michelle Anya Anjirbag).

Media Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Ifueko’s debut is full of lush world building and detailed, Nigerian-inspired mythology, giving life to a myth of epic proportions and a tale that is bound to stick with readers long after they finish it.

NPR
[Raybearer] reads like the work of a seasoned world-builder...Ifueko has created a rich, fresh, fully rounded world and a cast of characters to match; you'll be on tenterhooks as Tarisai figures out how to balance destiny and compulsion, but her prince and her palace companions command equal attention.

Entertainment Weekly
All hail Raybearer...Fans of recent breakouts in the genre like Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir may just find their next obsession.

Student Library Journal
Large-scale but vague world-building and a plot with far-reaching elements beyond Tarisai's immediate concerns make this story needlessly convoluted at times. A dense but promising stand-alone fantasy.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The perfectly paced plot is laid against a backdrop of political unrest and intrigue that explores colonialist and imperialist themes, ensuring its continued relevance...A fresh, phenomenal fantasy that begs readers to revel in its brilliant world.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[S]tunning...Fierce, kindhearted characters from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds enhance the well-paced, exquisitely crafted plot, which thrills and inspires while fostering readers' hope for a sequel.

Booklist (starred review)
Ifueko's mesmerizing debut stuns as it weaves a tale of loyalty, fate, destiny, family, and revenge. Moreover, it places a dark skinned heroine front and center, who is beautiful and powerful, deadly and compassionate, and vulnerable and tough, giving YA literature more of the diverse representation teens need.

Author Blurb Jessica Khoury, author of The Forbidden Wish and Last of Her Name
Ifueko's world building and prose is nothing short of seductive and I completely adore Tarisai's headstrong, tragic self. This will be a major gem of a release in 2020!

Author Blurb Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere
Fresh and utterly transportive, Raybearer is a fantastical fight for freedom, family, and justice at all costs.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Griots and a New Direction for Fantasy

Drawing of Sengalese griotIn Jordan Ifueko's fantasy debut Raybearer, Mbali, one of the Emperor's Council of Eleven, is identified as a griot – "a singer of histories and stories, the most sacred of Arit priests." Griots are not a literary invention, but an incorporation of Ifueko's Nigerian heritage into her fantasyscape, along with tutsu sprites and the culture of the Yoruba.

"Griot" is one name of many for a West African historian, singer, storyteller, poet or musician who sometimes also acts in an advisory capacity to a ruler. Griots are living repositories of culture, who carry, remember, recite and pass on oral histories through performance. While there are different instruments that griots might use while performing, Mbali uses a talking drum, ...

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