“Mama…why do they hate us?
“They don’t hate you my child. They hate what you were meant to become.”
If I ruled the world, one of the many required readings would be Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) the first of a trilogy by Nigerian-American writer Tomi Adeyemi. I would be remiss if I did not mention that not only is Adeyemi a 24 year old Harvard University graduate with an HONORS degree in English Literature, she is also a creative writing coach. BOSS! Although the book was penned for young adults, I was gravitated towards the magical covert art and felt compelled to purchase it. Typically, fantasy or science fiction novels aren’t my preferred book genre but the way Adeyemi was able to align this story with the what we are experiencing in this politically charged climate is BEYOND brilliant! I believe the spirit of Octavia Butler beams with pride as each page of this book is turned. I live a very busy life but I found time to read this 600+ page gem. It was not hard to do because it is a page turner with multiple climaxes that left me on the edge of my seat. I found myself on many occasions finding creative ways to sneak in a read: the endless grocery store line, the nights insomnia kicked in and even while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.
I definitely had post-book blues as I turned the last page. Children of Blood and Bone really makes you evaluate/re-evaluate things. The one thing that I kept pondering after finishing the book was, “What if the things I was taught or thought “are”, really aren’t”? And I would be remiss if I did not mention that Adeyemi’s epilogue had me like…
The story begins in Orisha 11 years after magic has vanished from the country that was once a kingdom of magic. Orisha was once home to 12 Maji clans, each with a patron god or goddess and a signature magical ability that manifests in some members at age 13. The King cut off access to magic and purged all of the maliciously murdered adult Maji, with the intent to leave their children with no knowledge of the magic that they will soon possess. Their Maji language and rituals are outlawed. Those who have the potential to manifest magic are known by their white hair and are abused or enslaved. As Zelie sets out on a mission to spar with the monarchy to avenge the death of her mother and to restore the magic of her people, the King’s son, Inan, sets out to crush it. I was amazed at how their views on vengeance, oppression, and the uneven distribution of power shift as they interact.
The novel takes the reader on a journey that includes but is not limited to genocide, prejudice and structural inequalities; all of which draw parallel with what many experience in our current world.
Zelie – protagonist – A girl from a poor family in the village of Eloirin who lost her mother during The Raid.
Tzain – Zélie’s very protective brother
Inan – Amari’s brother, the prince of Orishan, charged with stopping the children from restoring magic — and bringing them to justice
Amari – The princess of Orishan who eschews her family’s violence against the magi and helps Zélie and Tzain attempt to bring magic back
Baba: Tzain and Zélie’s widowed father
King Saran – antagonist- Amari and Inan’s father, who has a murderous streak and a taste for revenge against anyone with magical powers
Nailah: Zélie and Tzain’s pet lion
Mama Agba: A mentor (and fight instructor) to the young girls of Eloirin
Binta: Amari’s best friend and palace servant. Binta is an enslaved maji
Commander Kaea: The head of Inan’s army and one of the top Magi-haters. I pictured the face of Dani Guerra head of the Dora Milaje
*The information listed below derives from Entertainment Weekly and will aid in ease of reading.
The Magi Clans
The Magi themselves have their own groups of powers and personalities. Below are the clan names and their specific powers.
Reapers: access and manipulate the spirits of the living and the dead
Connectors: tap into the mind, consciousness, and dreams of others
Tiders: manipulate water and ice
Burners: generate and manipulate fire
Winders: manipulate air and wind
Grounders manipulate the earth
Welders: manipulate and bend metals
Lighters: manipulate light and darkness
Healers: heal a wide variety of ailments and injuries
Cancers: infect the living with a wide variety of sicknesses and diseases
Seers: see into the past, present, and future
Tamers: control and transform animals
Children of Blood and Bone Glossary:
Agbon: The main team sport played in Orisha
Ahéré: A small hut in Orishan
Alafia: A form of heaven
Ashe: A substance in the blood of the magi that gives them their power; what they need to do magic
Diviners: Magi who are still awaiting the use of their power
Gods: A curse word used by diviners
Kosidan: An Orishan who doesn’t have the potential to do magic
Lionaire: Magical creatures that double as pets and battle fellows (also known as Ryders)
Orishans: People who live in Orisha
Maggot: A slur for magi, mainly used by the nobles
Majacite: A metal, created by the nobles, to weaken magic and burn through the flesh of Magi
The Raid: The time when the King and his soldiers abolished magic and killed as many Magi as possible
Skies: A curse word used only by nobles
Yoruba: A magi language that was abolished after The Raid