Picture of author.

Saara El-ArifiKirja-arvosteluja

Teoksen The Final Strife tekijä

4 teosta 717 jäsentä 18 arvostelua

Kirja-arvosteluja

“a world run by people who think they’re better will never be better for everyone.”

The author was raised in the United Arab Emirates by a Ghanaian/ British Christian mother and a Sudanese/ Arabian Muslim father, before moving to a village in Yorkshire. Her debut novel is the first part of a trilogy based on Ghanaian folklore and Arabian mythology.

The world is divided by race. The red-blooded Embers are the ruling class, the Dusters the blue-blooded workers and the Ghostings the clear-blooded despised slave class. The four guilds of the empire are strength, truth, knowledge or duty. “Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control. Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance. Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.” Sylah lives in the Dusting quarter, raised to be a warrior, part of the resistance. After the tragic loss of her family Sylah becomes lost in a world of drugs, until a man from her past, Jond Aluna, reappears and challenges her to fulfill her destiny. Anoor is the despised daughter of one of the Ember leaders, the fierce Warden of Strength. Hassa is one of the Ghostings, robbed of her tongue and hands, destined to be invisible. Sylah ends up training Anoor for the Aktibar, the great competition to appoint the next leader. Not everything is as it appears in the empire, with secrets buried and cruelty and poverty tearing things apart at the seams.

The story has straight, gay and trans or intersex characters. There is a bisexual love triangle. Ultimately this book highlights the author’s “desire to prove that all cultures are magical in their own way.” I found this to be an engrossing story with strong women that was hard to put down. I’m not a big fantasy reader but this was a 5 star read for me. It would make an amazing movie.

“Bruises fades, but resilience doesn’t.”
 
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mimbza | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 27, 2024 |
#ReadAroundTheWorld. #United Arab Emirates

This is the second book in the fantasy series by Saara El-Arifi. Born in the UAE and raised in England, her world is built on the Ghanaian folklore and Arabian mythology of her parents heritage.

In this second story Anoor continues her training as the first ruler of the Warden’s Empire to secretly have blue blood. Her world is suddenly thrown into jeopardy when she is falsely accused of a murder and must solve it to clear her name.

In the meantime Sylah is on a voyage with her ex-lover Jond dealing with monsters, magic and threats to the entire empire. Sylah is a badass but the long distance relationship with Anoor felt like a trial.

The third leading lady, Ghosting, Hassa mysteriously moves around the castle and city uncovering the mystery of whether it is the tide wind responsible for a series of deaths or whether something else is at play. I enjoyed her friendship with Kwame and her character arc.

It’s always good to have strong female leads however thus book felt a bit “in-betweeney” to me, like the filler between a very strong first story and what will probably be a strong ending to the trilogy. I guess that is often the fate of the second book in a trilogy. I’m definitely still invested enough to want to complete the trilogy. 3.5 stars½
 
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mimbza | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 7, 2024 |
Very engaging fantasy with a lot of world to get lost in, but a few elements just needed a little more polishing.
 
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bookwyrmm | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 14, 2024 |
When I saw I got an advanced copy of this I about jumped around my classroom(teacher). It is worth all the hype and I am not even that far in yet. Not only will I finish reading this but I am ordering my own copy!!! The cover is beautiful! The concept I love! I would not be surprised if this book doesn't make all the fantasy lists of the year!
 
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amethystangel777 | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 28, 2024 |
TW/CW: Sex, murder, death, violence

RATING: 5/5

REVIEW: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and Del Rey books and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

Faebound is the first in a series of fantasy novels by Saara El-Arifi, author of the Final Strife trilogy. It follows the two sisters Yeeran and Lettle, who because of a mistake on the battlefield find themselves in exile outside of any land they have ever known. It is then that they run across a people that they were unaware still existed, and who turn their lives and beliefs upside down.

This is an excellent book. Having read the first two books in The Final Strife, I wasn’t surprised by this at all, but I think that this book might even be better than those. I love El-Arifi’s world building, which really does create a whole new culture in your mind as you read. I love the casual way she treats LGBTQIA+ relationships, like they are healthy and normal (the way they SHOULD be portrayed). I love the fact that her characters are mainly black and brown, because there isn’t nearly enough of that in fantasy. Although the vast majority of this book takes place in a small physical space, that doesn’t make it any less interesting or exciting, which I think takes a lot of skill.

I am very much looking forward to reading El-Arifi’s future books – of which I hope there are many – and I highly recommend this book!
 
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Anniik | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 6, 2024 |
A really thrilling world with tense conflict, interesting personalities, smart characters and exciting plotlines
 
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decaturmamaof2 | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 22, 2023 |
Yassss! This is, hands down, the most brilliant sophomore book of a debut author I have ever read. In this installment, we get to take a deep dive into the lore and worldbuilding of Empire and beyond and see how little twists of a people's origin story can absolutely change the course of humanity. I love watching the growing arcs of Anoor and Sylah, though they are growing away from each other and finding out who they each really are inside. You'll laugh with them, cry with them, scream at them (literally) and try to steer them with your passion for their story. A fast-paced, beautifully vivid shift to a focus on world-building without losing any of the magic of book 1s character driven awesomeness.

Don't forget Jond, Hessa and the crew either. They have some major parts to play in this unfolding time bomb!

You definitely want to read this one. What are you waiting for? Go get it. Now!
 
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BreePye | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 6, 2023 |
This first installment was an absolute joy to read. Character-driven, but with great detail given to the world building and plot pacing. I especially loved the many ways in which El-Arifi queered the genre of fantasy by tackling gender and sexuality in a way that brought the absence of "otherness" to the page. I laughed. I cried. I was angry, and I was heartbroken... and for one book to gift me all those emotions was a read I will not soon forget. Can't believe I have to wait two weeks for the next one to come out!

Definitely don't want to miss out on this one. READ IT!
 
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BreePye | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 6, 2023 |
Yassss! This is, hands down, the most brilliant sophomore book of a debut author I have ever read. In this installment, we get to take a deep dive into the lore and worldbuilding of Empire and beyond and see how little twists of a people's origin story can absolutely change the course of humanity. I love watching the growing arcs of Anoor and Sylah, though they are growing away from each other and finding out who they each really are inside. You'll laugh with them, cry with them, scream at them (literally) and try to steer them with your passion for their story. A fast-paced, beautifully vivid shift to a focus on world-building without losing any of the magic of book 1s character driven awesomeness.

Don't forget Jond, Hessa and the crew either. They have some major parts to play in this unfolding time bomb!

You definitely want to read this one. What are you waiting for? Go get it. Now!
 
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BreePye | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 6, 2023 |
This story is superb. I enjoyed it a lot and especially love how it comes from the mythology of Africa and Arabia. I always love reading stories with mythology and especially with Mythologies that we don't always know or hear as much about.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:
Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.
Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.
Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.
Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.
As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

This story is epic fantasy with blood magic and an interesting take on the chosen one. This story has the chosen one having issues with drugs and missing her calling, which is quite a different take than other epic fantasies of this type. There's some content/trigger warning needed for some gore, violence, child abuse, drugs/drug addiction, and abuse. There's also LGBT/Queer rep, a mute character, and such.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for letting me read and review this great book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
 
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Kiaya40 | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 19, 2023 |
This story is superb. I enjoyed it a lot and especially love how it comes from the mythology of Africa and Arabia. I always love reading stories with mythology and especially with Mythologies that we don't always know or hear as much about.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:
Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.
Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.
Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.
Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.
As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.

This story is epic fantasy with blood magic and an interesting take on the chosen one. This story has the chosen one having issues with drugs and missing her calling, which is quite a different take than other epic fantasies of this type. There's some content/trigger warning needed for some gore, violence, child abuse, drugs/drug addiction, and abuse. There's also LGBT/Queer rep, a mute character, and such.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for letting me read and review this great book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
 
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Kiaya40 | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 19, 2023 |
I read this for r/Fantasy's Happily Ever After Book Club which also satisfies a Bingo square for Book club Discussion or Read-along. I wanted to read something that was outside of my wheelhouse, so that's why I chose the Fantasy Romance book club, but apparently I chose a month where the chosen book's romance takes a back seat to the dark and oftentimes bleak story that is at the forefront of the story. The romance even seemed a bit problematic to me because the two characters don't start on equal footing, or with a foundation of trust and understanding, but their romance starts after the main character Sylah, breaks into a young woman's home, gets mistaken for an assassin, gets captured, goes through forced withdrawal from a drug addiction while in captivity and enters into an agreement with the person who captured her to teach her combat and other skills necessary to survive the upcoming trials that determine new leaders in this land. A bit of a wobbly foundation for a relationship at best. The characters are keeping secrets from each other the whole time, but love blossomed along the way, and when those secrets were revealed, pain and separation followed. The worldbuilding and the plot grew on me over time, and I was more invested in the overall story, than with the romance. I will probably check out book 2, because some big secrets were revealed at the end and I want to see where this story goes.½
 
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quickmind | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 29, 2023 |
The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi is Ms. El-Arifi’s sequel to The Ending Fire trilogy and holy hell! I adored the first book in the series because it was fresh and exciting and completely unpredictable. The Battle Drum is all that and more, something I did not think was possible.

The action starts right away, with The Battle Drum picking up a day or two after the end of The Final Strife. Our three main characters, Hassa, Sylah, and Anoor, are still angry and still fighting against the injustices that plague their country. In any good sequel, the original quest changes, and the same holds true here. Sylah seeks a solution to the growing nightly hurricane problem. Hassa must balance her duties to her people with her growing friendships with those who are not her people. Anoor is the same mess as always, looking without leaping and judging before there is a shred of evidence, but her messes are even bigger and potentially more dangerous.

Much like the first novel, I had no idea in which direction Ms. El-Arifi was taking the women’s stories. I never wrapped my mind around the dual timelines, and I remained clueless about the story’s trajectory until I received that final puzzle piece. Looking back, I am so glad I was unable to guess anything. Not only were the reveals more effective because they were surprises, but I also enjoyed the story more as a result. The Battle Drum is a complicated story. There are a lot of moving pieces to match the large cast of characters. I appreciate how deftly Ms. El-Arifi weaves each piece into the larger story while keeping you guessing the entire time.

The other impressive aspect of The Battle Drum is that by the end of this second novel, who the villain is versus the heroes is unclear. Sylah, Hassa, and Anoor are morally gray. If there were doubts before, there are none by the end of the sequel. Each does things that cause harm to others as a direct result of choosing to be selfish instead of selfless. At the same time, we meet a new character who you could call the villain, but I have a difficult time sticking that label on her. Her actions are not any worse than those taken by the other characters, and, unlike them, her actions are completely selfless. It makes for a compelling drama as the lines of good versus evil blur and intermingle and even fade completely.

Another fun aspect of The Battle Drum is that it feels like the first book in a series. Yes, the characters are the same, and there is one key storyline from The Final Strife that remains pertinent in book two. However, Ms. El-Afiri introduces so many new places with new people and uncovers game-changing information that it has none of the stagnancies that plague so many sequels. All of it is new and exciting, and the answers you get leave you reeling.

While good sequels do exist, there are so many less-than-good ones that there is a reason why many readers approach sequels with caution. The Battle Drum suffers from none of that. I found everything about it compelling and became so engrossed in the story that the lines between reality and fiction blurred ever so slightly. If The Final Strife was impressive, The Battle Drum is awe-inspiring in its scope, its detail, and its execution.
 
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jmchshannon | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 23, 2023 |
DNF @ page 68. Gratuitously violent dystopian fantasy with a drug-addled main character who is not only unappealing but uninteresting - I didn't care what happened to her - and a ridiculous plot.
 
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SChant | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 9, 2023 |
TW/CW: Death, murder, execution, sex, injury

RATING: 4/5

REVIEW: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Del Rey and am voluntarily writing an honest review.

I was very excited to be approved for this book since I really loved the first one. This one was very good too, although it suffered a little from ‘middle book syndrome.’ I’m going to try to write this review without spoilers, since I don’t want to ruin the first book OR this one, but that’s probably going to mean I can’t get very specific on the plot.

The Battle Drum begins where The Final Strife ends, following the journeys of both Anoor and Sylah, both dangerous and deadly in their own ways. Along the way, we learn more about the world introduced to us in The Final Strife, and we see characters taking sides for the battle that is sure to come in the final book.

This book is, without a doubt, interesting and well written. The characters, while not always loveable, are fascinating and you can’t help but care about what happens next. The world and its mythology are unique and feel deep and as if there is a great deal more to explore.

I love the LGBTQIA+ representation in this book, something it embraces fully and I loved reading.

I did think, however, that at 560 pages, this book was a little bit too long. I also thought that – as I said before – ‘middle book syndrome’ was a bit of a problem. There’s no real beginning and no real ending, so while stuff does happen you finish it wanting the ~real~ ending.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book though, and I would definitely recommend to fantasy fans!
 
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Anniik | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 26, 2023 |
The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi is a book you must put on your TBR if you love epic fantasy. There is no way I will ever be able to do it justice, whether it is a brief review or a lengthy one. Not only does it use African and Arabian mythological influences, but there are also two switched-at-birth heroes, a Sapphic love interest, political machinations, the birth of a revolution, and an intense set of games to decide upon the new heir. It is genuinely fantastic and worthy of all the stars you can give it.
 
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jmchshannon | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 24, 2022 |
I received a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

This was a fantastic book! A dystopian book set on another world, it follows the story of Sylah, a young woman with life-long connections to the Sandstorm, a rebel group fighting for the lower castes. Although once powerful, Sandstorm has fallen on hard times and in her guilt Sylah has become addicted to drugs. Through chance and error, Sylah is forced not helping a high-caste woman train for the competition that decides the world's leaders. There is so much more to this book! Sadly a few sentences cannot possibly describe the plot and since I don't want to leave spoilers, I'll just leave it there. The author weaves a rich and complex story, making her characters come to life on the pages. I loved this book, and it was so refreshing to see the beginning of a fantasy trilogy where the main character is a woman of color and the story was based in African mythology. Excellent book, and I can't wait to read the next one.
 
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Anniik | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 26, 2022 |
The writing is engaging, and the authors worldbuilding is excellent. The character descriptions are well done and I could visualize each principle character throughout the story. They are defined as much by their physical descriptions as they are by their personalities.

Another great part is how so many things came together in the book and felt completely natural. Even when things were set up one way and then changed, not necessarily turning things on their head, but a simple shift that kept you reading, just so you could see what was going to happen.

This book is good on it's own, but is definitely a setup for what I believe will be an even more interesting development in book 2.
 
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snotbottom | 10 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 20, 2022 |