fantasy, review

Review: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer was my first read of 2021 and I couldn’t have picked a better book to start the year. After my passion for reading was dwindling towards the end of 2020 Ifueko has absolutely blown me away.

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?

At the beginning of the book reveals were peppered in, constantly giving me answers to some of my questions while delivering more things for me to question. It think this really kept the energy high while reading and contributed to how quickly I devoured the book. Information was dropped along the way and without the necessary context I couldn’t solve the puzzle.

I particularly loved the ending. At this point a lot of the questions raised are answered and it feels like a arc of plot and characterisation has been completed. But Ifueko drops in just the hint of an opening for a sequel without needing to rely on a cliffhanger. It’s left me dying for more.

Monsters were nothing. The true terrors were people like me – the ones who saw suffering, who heard the screams of a hundred generations echoing for miles around them – and still did nothing.

I was really impressed with how well the large cast was managed. We expand the list of characters slowly, giving plenty time for each one to become established and memorable. The relationships between the different characters were great to read and full of varied dynamics throughout the book. I particularly found the relationships built in the capital were so vibrant and felt like they ran deep.

The world of Raybearer is rich in mythology and history, which helped build up a fuller image of the characters. There was history to the characters and references to their lives outside of the time frame of the book which I was surprised to find that I don’t notice often. I think it adds to how 3D the characters felt.

The world building was interwoven with the plot as Tarisai learns more about the empire she has grown up isolated from. This choice helped deliver plenty world building without long sections of exposition and kept the narrative from feeling rigid or stale. It also made the world building feel more organically placed into the story without coming across as a plot convenience.

In the end, I gave Raybearer the full five stars and I can’t wait to pick up more from this author. I believe we have a sequel to Raybearer on the cards based on goodreads, so I will be definitely keeping my eyes peeled for a release date to come in the future.

★★★★★

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