Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles, and happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve got no plans other than eating cookies, but I’m all for spreading the love. 💗
Son of the Storm has been on my radar for…about 6 months? A year? I’m not sure, but either way, I’m glad I picked it up. Usually, long, epic fantasy books like this make me lose interest, but Suyi Davies Okungbowa has written a tale that had me hooked almost all the way through.
Enjoy this week’s review!
Son of the Storm (The Nameless Republic, #1) – Suyi Davies Okungbowa
Danso is well on the way to becoming a renowned scholar, but despite the path set before him, he seeks more in life than what his university can teach him. He knows that the city of Bassa has sinister secrets woven into its history, walling itself away from the rest of the world and making every immigrant swear to secrecy. Danso’s bravado catches up with him when he discovers Lilong—and along with her, a type of magic that he never knew existed. A magic that bonds to him, and a magic that could determine his fate and the fates of Bassa itself.
TW/CW: graphic violence, racism/colorism, immolation, blood
These days, it’s rare for an epic fantasy over 500 pages to keep my attention; to pull it off, you have to not only have great worldbuilding, but you have to buoy it with some kind of action and character building, and more often than not, many will lean on one to propel the page count. I was hoping that Son of the Storm wouldn’t fall into that trap, but to my relief, it gave us all of those elements and more, making for a compelling fantasy that hooked me on the rest of the series!
It’s clear to me that so much care was put into the characters of Son of the Storm, but Danso stood out the most to me. He’s refreshingly fleshed out—he’s lovably cocky, he’s determined, and he can talk his way out of any situation. Beyond that, there was so much nuance to him that made the plot all the more compelling; the wrongs within Bassa had a personal connection to his own family history, and that drove him to discover more about the outside world. It’s a low bar, I know, but I’m so used to epic fantasy having issues that are only tangentially related to their protagonists, and giving Danso a more personal, tangible connection to the plot made the story all the more interesting to read.
And that’s in no small part thanks to Okungbowa’s fantastic writing! His prose hit the perfect balance of fantastical and grounded, making the human aspect of the story shine through. The moments of humor are balanced with moments of meditation on systemic issues and personal biases, and there wasn’t a moment that I thought that either were too much or too little. Although the plot did have brief moments of lulling, Okungbowa easily revived the suspense and action to keep the story moving in ways that made sense and were integral to the journeys of each character. In my experience, it’s difficult to keep up that pace for over 500 pages; usually, something gets lost in the worldbuilding or somewhere else, but Son of the Storm was, for the most part, consistently action-packed.
Back to the characters, however, is where my major problem came in: the multiple POV structure. Normally, I’m a sucker for multiple POVs when they’re done well, giving the reader a chance to see the story through the eyes of several, fleshed-out characters. It’s clear that Okungbowa loves his characters, but maybe he loved them…a little too much. During the last half of the book, we got the POVs of a few side characters that only had relevance in a certain section of the book, taking away the spotlight from the development of the main characters, such as Danso, Lilong, and Zaq. A lot of the time, these characters’ voices didn’t even come through, making the fact that the chapter is from their POV nearly pointless. Having the POVs consistently switch between Danso, Lilong, Zaq, and maybe Esheme would have made the story flow so much better, and it would have made sense to focus on their development rather than a passing side character.
All in all, an action-packed piece of fantasy with lovable characters and a plot that kept me guessing. 4 stars!
Son of the Storm is the first in the Nameless Republic series, followed by Warrior of the Wind, which is slated for release in November of this year. Suyi Davies Okungbowa is also the author of David Mogo Godhunter and several other short stories.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!