Updated: Feb 14
Redemptor (Raybearer Book #2), by Jordan Ifueko (2021)
This is the second book in Ifueko's duology, and since I have a terrible memory, I decided to re-read Raybearer - you can see my original 4-star review here.
The following review assumes you've already read Raybearer.
Redemptor picks up where the last book left off - In an attempt to appease the spirits of the underworld, and to hault the decades-long practice of sacrificing "redemptor" children, Tarisai has presented herself as sacrifice instead. The spirits have given her two years to anoint her own council, as Raybearer, Redemptor, and Empress (alongside Emperor Dayo) of Aritsar. Specifically, she must somehow find a way to unite the leaders of all of the different regions of the country, most of whom she's never met, and have no reason to trust, let alone love her. The stakes are high no matter how this goes. If she succeeds, she will have to descend into the underworld, and either battle through horrors to make it out the other side, or die trying. If she fails, the spirits will overtake Aritsar, and millions will die.
Tarisai is learning the ropes of governing alongside Dayo, and discovering that the country of Aritsar is far from perfect. Addressing issues of poverty, class divisions, resource allocation, slavery, and more, we watch her stumble through that learning process, and find ways to buck the status quo, even when it involves taking power away from the ruling monarchs - i.e., she and Dayo.
As compared to Raybearer, this story is plot-driven and action-packed, but light on character development. Tarisai and Dayo's council from the first book make only brief appearances, which was disappointing because they were all very interesting and fun. And the new characters introduced all felt a bit flat. But I really enjoyed the conclusion of the story, and being plunged back into the world of Aritsar. Ifueko is a masterful world-builder, so it's a great place to hang out for a while!
UP NEXT: Mouthful of Birds, by Samanta Schweblin