It’s here! My first review in a while! Rejoice! I’m pleased to be a part of the #CourtOfLionsTour hosted by Shealea @ Caffeine Book Tours. My leg of the tour features a review and a curated list of SFF duologies by authors of color, which will come in a separate post. Note: Court of Lions is the second book in a duology, so if you haven’t read the first book, Mirage, beware of potential spoilers for the first book.
Title: Court of Lions
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: 06 August 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?
After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.
Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?
The first words that come to mind after reading Court of Lions are “what a book!” I really enjoyed Mirage, but this sequel was even better, in my opinion.
To start off, I’d just like to praise the writing. It was so lush and poetic and really brought the world of Andala and its characters to life. It wasn’t hard for me to picture the characters and setting at all. Though the book is technically science fiction, it read more like epic fantasy to me because of the atmosphere. For those who may not particularly care for “hard” science fiction that emphasizes flashy technology, I’d recommend giving this series a try.
I really loved the worldbuilding and the intricate politics of this book. The richly realized cultures of Andala and the incisive commentary on colonialism gave the story the thematic resonance of the best science fiction. Amani has her work cut out for her trying to bring together a bunch of people to oppose the Vathek empire, maneuvering a bunch of moving parts to create a working machine, but she does so quite skillfully.
This story is extremely character-driven, and the story balances the characters’ conflicting, complex motivations quite well. Amani, Maram, and Idris all exhibit immense character growth over the course of the story. The tension between their personal desires and their duties and the external pressures they faced was palpable throughout the story. Maram’s arc in particular was quite compelling and satisfying as she starts to shake off the colonized mindset from her Vathek upbringing, embrace her Andalaan/Ziyadi heritage, and assert her agency as an individual and a royal heir.
Last but not least, there were two major romantic arcs in this book, and they were just *chef’s kiss*. Both Amani and Maram are caught up in forbidden relationships, and the intensity of their yearning for what they desperately crave but cannot freely indulge had my heart aching for them. Maram falls for a woman, and I had so many moments during her passages where I was screaming in gay. This book is a gift to the queer readers who love mutual pining.
About the Author:
Somaiya Daud is the author of Mirage and holds a PhD from the University of Washington in English literature. A former bookseller in the children’s department at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., now she writes and teaches full time.
Author website — https://www.somaiyabooks.com/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/somaiyadaudauthor
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15179415.Somaiya_Daud
Instagram — http://instagram.com/somaiiiya
Twitter — http://twitter.com/somaiyadaud
Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour:
US Folks: Enter the giveaway for a copy of Mirage or Court of Lions!
Prize: Five (5) paperback edition of Mirage and five (5) hardcover edition of Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud
- Open to United States (US)
- Ends on 11 August 2020 (Philippine time)
Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/950d261638/