Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa is the first book in the Nameless Republic series. The novel takes inspiration from African culture and gives a fresh and exciting take on the fantasy genre. Some of my all-time favourite fantasy novels have been inspired by African culture. Books like Black Leopard Red Wolf, Children of Blood and Bone, The Kingdom of Souls, The Rage of Dragons, and many more.
Son of the Storm takes place within the city of Bassa. Bassa is a city in which the shade of your skin plays a role in how you’re perceived most noticeably; the darker you are the more favoured you are by the nobility and people of Bassa. The novel is told from the POV of many characters, however Danso, Lilong, and Esheme are the main characters.
Firstly, Danso is a highly intelligent young man currently studying at university in order to become a historian. Due to Danso’s habit of being overly intrigued to uncover Bassa’s past by reading forbidden texts and his inability to keep out of trouble, Danso is also on the brink of expulsion. Due to his lighter complexion, Danso is looked down upon further and is often called a “Shashi”— a slur word. No matter what he does or achieves Danso will never be considered a nobel noble? to his skin colour. To make matters even more complicated for Danso, he finds Lilong, who also has lighter skin, in the barn at his home. After saving her life, Danso goes on a journey with Lilong to discover where he really comes from, the true power of the Ibor and knowledge that could harm the very foundation of Bassa.
Although an incredibly smart and interesting character, Danso at times was so naive and a bit too optimistic, which frustrated me. He was adamant that he would be forgiven for harbouring and escaping with Lilong due to the “The Peace Treaty”. Little does he know that a piece of paper doesn’t mean s*** lol. There were many times I wanted to scream at him 😂. Danso’s journey was very much a coming of age story, his attempts to find out where he truly comes from and uncovering who the Islanders really are.
Secondly we have Esheme who had a huge impact on the story and for me was the biggest surprise. Esheme is a very ambitious individual and no matter what doesn’t go down without a fight. Like her mother Nem who is a politician and fixer, Esheme does whatever it takes no matter how questionable in order to grasp power. Esheme is also engaged to Danso and both are similar in the sense that they aren’t nobles and are looked down upon. Esheme was great because at the beginning she appears to be someone really nice and sweet. But that changes and she quickly becomes someone who brings wrath upon her enemies. Seeing her change into a ruthless and power hungry villain had me like 😱.
Finally, we have Lilong, who was my favourite character. Due to her lighter complexion she is known as a “Yellow skin”. She has been sent to Bassa to find the red Ibor stolen from her father. She wishes to protect her people and not let Bassa uncover the secrets of Ibor and the magic that one can yield with it. She forms a reluctant bond with Danso and both must work together to survive. I really loved how mysterious Lilong was and how she slowly opens up to Danso. Danso is very much an open book and a positiveindividual,whereas Lilong is extremely on edge and on guard with revealing too much about herself. Seeing her open up to Danso was really nice and their surprise friendship was done so well.
There are also many great side characters that tell their POV. There’s Nem, a fixer and mother of Esheme, Zak who is the bodyguard of Danso, Obudo the bodyguard of Nem, and many more who I won’t say because I don’t want to ruin the surprise. But overall, there was a great ensemble of interesting and unique characters.
What I also loved about the story was the magic system. Essentially, one can gain power from a mineral known as Ibor. Those who can yield the magic are known as “Iborworkers” Somehow Danso and Esheme manage to get their hands on a rare kind known as Red Ibor which gives them power to control animals in the case of Danso, a thunder bat known as a Skopi and Esheme who can bring back the dead to life. What’s even greater is that it is the Ibor that chooses who can wield the magic which was a fresh and new dynamic.
Finally, the world building had so much depth and history. My favourite parts took place in the Breathing Forest and The Dead Mines. Both were highly intense and had me on the edge of my seat. It was so interesting learning about the Nameless Islands, The Seven Islands, the previous Emperors, and dark secrets that are slowly uncovered. Bassa has hidden many secrets from its history and only shows what they want you to see. Although there is action, I was very much enthralled by the political elements and the twists that ensued. In many fantasy novels it’s the action that takes the centre stage whereas in Son of the Storm it was all about being smart and thinking one step ahead of your enemy.
Overall, this book was epic and I can’t wait for the Warrior of the Wind which comes out next year. I found it really enjoyable and loved the political elements. I’m excited for what this series will bring next.