Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
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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 Eleven. 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?
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Raybearer is a phenomenal fantasy novel written by a very talented debut author, the plot is full of intrigue, suspense and power. The detailed and imaginative writing plunges you straight into this vast empire full of magic, curses and wishes. Tarisai’s unique story captivated me from the very first page, her quest for information and knowledge was a fascinating journey to accompany her on. The world building within Raybearer was so complex and incredible I felt transported into this Nigerian inspired world, if you love discovering new worlds then that is reason enough to pick up Raybearer. When can I travel by lodestone?
When the novel begins, Tarisai is a young girl living in anticipation of seeing The Lady again, steadily throughout the novel she grows up alongside the other children she meets after moving to the palace. I felt a fondness and protectiveness over Tarisai and her close peers after seeing them grow and mature into young adults. Raybearer includes an amazing cast of complex characters, including an asexual side character as well as the best found family aspect that is so satisfying to read about.
Both covers for this book, UK & US, are absolutely beautiful but my favourite is the UK paperback edition (the one pictured above) have you spotted the face? I switched between listening to the audiobook and reading my physical copy of this book, I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook even to just familiarise yourself with the pronunciation of the beautiful names and prose within this book. Raybearer is an epic, immersive fantasy novel, elegantly written with an utterly unique and attention grabbing plot and beautiful cover, you will not regret buying this five star read. I am desperate to get my hands on the sequel!