Redemptor Book Review
Redemptor is the gripping finale to the Raybearer duology. Ifueko delivers on her promise of an epic West African inspired fantasy, struggling heroes and stunning worldbuilding. A fitting conclusion to this series.
Review by: Steph Huddleston
Author: Jordan Ifueko
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: 2nd of November 2021 (Paperback, as pictured)
Redemptor is the second and final book in the Raybearer series. While the first book, Raybearer saw Tarisai ascend to the throne, now that she’s taken her rightful place as Empress of Aritsar, her challenges aren’t over. To appease the evil spirits that threaten Aritsar and access her full powers, Tarisai must anoint a council of her own. If diplomacy wasn’t challenging enough, she must then descend into the underworld as a sacrifice to appease the spirits and prevent further atrocities from occurring to her people.
She’s determined to survive her trip to the underworld and seek justice. But as the spirits of those who have made the trip to the underworld begin to haunt her, she begins to doubt her own strength. The pressure of her role as empress and redemptor of her people is beginning to mount.
What we thought of Redemptor
Redemptor had a lot to live up to after the success of Raybearer. This story maintains much of the excellence of the first instalment of the series. Fantastic West African inspired fantasy worldbuilding, emphasis on the importance of family relationships and an excellent cast of characters.
This instalment brings all that with it, as well as a darker tone. We see Tarisai wrestle with feelings that may feel familiar after the last eighteen months in the world. It makes sense, given that the book was written against the backdrop of a global pandemic, Black civil rights movements and USA violent state retaliation. The author acknowledges in her author’s note the impact these events had on her personally, and on the story.
While this book is a work of fiction, you can feel the emotional richness and pain as the main character is burdened with processing her guilt and passion to help others. It examines people’s responses to injustice, as well as provides a persistent ray of hope to leave readers inspired and challenged.
Redemptor is perfect for
Readers who loved the first book Raybearer will not be disappointed by this sequel. Readers who are looking for a deeply engaging fantasy series, with fantastic world-building and characterisation should check out the first book in the series, Raybearer.
Also — this series has just been green-lit by Netflix for development. So it’s the perfect time to pick it up!
There is often a celebration of books that highlight, ‘strong female characters’. But this narrative suggests that these characters (and therefore the people they represent) are the exception. When the culture we’re in perpetrates a narrative that suggests teenage girls aren’t strong or intelligent, it’s damaging.
It can also lead to female characters who are strong because they act like boys. This isn’t true representation, because it’s such a narrow definition of strength.
People need to see themselves in books and films, which means a diverse range of characters should be present. Representation matters. The main character of Redemptor, Tarisai, is a wonderful character. She beautifully represents the passion, strength and commitment to growth that many young women possess.
But Tarisai isn’t an exceptional fighter, which is a trope that often plagues ‘strong female characters’. Particularly in the fantasy genre. It’s refreshing to have not just one, but several characters who possess various strengths and weaknesses as they navigate their world. They’re not restricted to how well they can punch someone. (Don’t worry, the book contains plenty of other action)
The characters in this series rely on each other for building themselves and their world up. They find their true strength in each other. It’s beautiful to read.
This book contains
West African inspired folklore and oral history, spunky teen heroes, family relationships, an awesome unique magic system, and a whole lot of heart!