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The Nameless Republic #1

Son of the Storm

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From one of the most exciting new storytellers in epic fantasy, Son of the Storm is a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forgotten magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa.

"Everything I love in a fantasy novel. Damn good stuff!" —Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—only he doesn’t want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city’s immigrants are sworn to secrecy.

But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn’t exist, he’s put on a collision course with Bassa’s darkest secrets. Drawn into the city’s hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. And the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire.

545 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 11, 2021

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About the author

Suyi Davies Okungbowa

26 books499 followers
Also known as Suyi Davies (writing for young readers)

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and general speculative work. His latest novels include Son of the Storm and Warrior of the Wind , both of the epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic. His debut godpunk fantasy novel David Mogo, Godhunter won the 2020 Nommo Award for Best Novel. His shorter works have appeared in various periodicals and anthologies and have been nominated for various awards. He also writes for younger audiences as Suyi Davies. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa.

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Profile Image for Suyi Davies Okungbowa.
Author 26 books499 followers
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January 19, 2023
UPDATE: JAN 7, 2023

This post has served its purpose for the greater part of about 2 years. Thanks to all who've engaged in good faith. The next book (Warrior of the Wind) will contain an author's note that mentions albinism and its attendant challenges on the African continent, while also offering a nod to this context. Thank you for reading.

In the interim, here are some release updates about WARRIOR OF THE WIND .

ORIGINAL POST: APR 2, 2021

This is not a review. I'm simply using this opportunity to share, for future readers, a discussion I had with a recent reviewer.

The reviewer pointed out their discomfort with the term "yellowskin" as used in this book/series, and was concerned about its offensiveness to Asian-descended peoples. My response was to clarify that: (1) in The Nameless Republic as a series, there are no Asians or Asian-inspired peoples or people of any other race--everyone is Black/African-inspired; (2) the "yellowskin" folk in question are inspired by Africans with albinism, and "yellow" is a descriptor often used by Africans (in some cases, pejoratively) to describe that; and (3) none of the mentions of skin shade in the book are references to racial colouring, but to the range of skin tones African-descended peoples exist within. I concluded by explaining how the term "yellow" is employed within continental and diasporic Black/African communities, and how that was the context within which it is employed in The Nameless Republic.

Here is the full discussion below.

REVIEWER'S POINTS
"I just could not get over the depictions of Asian people in this fantasy world, especially how they are referred to as "yellowskins." As an Asian-American reader, I found this extremely offensive, and I cannot believe this made it past multiple editors without any complaints.

As anyone with cultural competency knows, "yellowskin" is not just a fantasy term, but also a real-life slur that was used against Asian people throughout history. Before anyone tells me that the "yellowskins" in the book are fantastical and are not meant to represent Asian people, I want to point out the "yellowskin" woman's name is Lilong. As a Chinese-American myself, I can confirm that that is a Chinese or Chinese-inspired name. As this is a fantasy world, there are plenty of ways to represent Asian people(s) without using perjoratives about our skin color. Many other fantasy authors have used other terms or invented fictional countries with names inspired by Asia. There was no need to refer to Asian people as "yellowskins" in this fantasy world."

MY RESPONSE:
Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review. I greatly appreciate it, and I'm glad you have brought this point forward. I often never respond to reviews, but I wanted to use this moment to clarify the points you have raised, not just for you, but for future readers.

So, to begin: There are no Asians featured in Son of the Storm. In fact, there are no non-Africans featured in this book at all. Every single person is African, and that includes "yellowskins."

Communities of African descent, both on the continent and in its diasporas, historically and contemporarily have had their own terms to describe their range of skin shades. Look at this "Glossary of Harlem Slang" by Zora Neale Hurston for instance. If you scroll down to "Colorscale," you'll see the following: "high yaller [high yellow], yaller [yellow], high brown, vaseline brown, seal brown, low brown, dark brown." (https://aalbc.com/content.php?title=G...)

In Son of the Storm, the people use similar language to describe their range of skin tones (which is completely separate from race): high black, low black, high brown, low brown, and yellowskin.

Nigerians (where I come from) have long used "yellow" as a skin tone descriptor for lighter-skinned Africans, as well as to describe fellow Africans with albinism, since they have the "yellowest" skin tone. And that is where the term "yellowskin" in Son of the Storm comes from: Lilong descends from a people with a similar genetic defect that prevents them from having the same amount of melanin, and so a large part of their population is with albinism. They are Black in everything but skin and hair and eye colour--you will notice in the descriptions that it is not just Lilong's skin that is "yellow," but her hair and pupils too.

It is a well documented fact that people with albinism have long been discriminated against amongst African peoples (see more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecu...). The persecution of Lilong and her people is simply analogous to that, nothing more. If you follow the descriptions/excerpts you have pulled out, for instance, you'll see they match exactly with both the description of Africans with albinism and the myths formed around them. In fact, you'll find some of those myths are direct transplants form our world into the world of Son of the Storm (here's a list of myths to compare with: https://www.derm.theclinics.com/artic...).

As for name Lilong, it is simply a short form of the Lilongwe River in East Africa, which flows into the Lake Malawi. I cannot speak to what "Lilong" may mean in any of the various Chinese languages, but trust that any similarities are purely coincidental.

I understand that there is room for complication due to the usage of this term in other aspects of the globe (namely, America in its denigration of Asians). I understand it is possible to consider this usage akin to that. But I would like to point out that I am neither American nor Asian, and my work neither references nor draws from America or Asia in any of the slightest possible ways--directly or analogously. And while I understand that anyone from another culture might read my work and possibly draw another meaning from it, I would hope they would first consider the context of the work and its influences, and consider that one word may have a separate meaning for another people.

It is impossible to erase the use of "yellow" within the vocabulary of African-descended peoples because of an unconnected history of that word that America has with Asia. That would hinder our own ability to speak about the nuanced variations of Blackness/Africanness, of which "yellow" is a part. One of the things I aim to do with my work is to represent these true and nuanced experiences, separate from the dominant cultural narratives that center America and its history of subjugation. I would like to think it is feasible to speak to very specific experiences of Blackness/Africanness, and be understood within context and not have these terms mistakenly transplanted to an unrelated experience.

I apologize if it made this book a difficult read for you as a result, and I understand if you cannot recommend Son of the Storm to readers with experiences such as yours. But I do hope that, if anything, something new has been learned here, especially by me, about ways to have these kinds of conversations that may serve both interests. I'm glad that you mention being open to conversation, and I hope that it is one we can have at some point.

Thank you, again, for reading.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,373 reviews9,450 followers
June 13, 2021
It just wasn’t for me. The end. Why should I have to review? I have a friend on here that doesn’t write reviews yet gets hundreds of likes from saying nothing. To me that says you’ve got tons of friends that like whatever you don’t say so why should I have to say something when I don’t feel like it 🤔. I guess I don’t have enough friends to like what I don’t have to say 🤣😂🤷🏻‍♀️

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
366 reviews3,026 followers
May 8, 2021
If you’re looking for a new world to scour every inch of, to read about some of the most detailed history in a novel, this is the world to spend time in. It strives for realism, defying the Western belief as one definitive version of a story. But does that story match its vibrant cover? Here are all my pros, cons, and first impressions in this video--> https://youtu.be/YM8kqFLO_ok
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,657 followers
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June 7, 2021
A hugely anticipated read for me, an epic fantasy set in an incredibly realised alt-Africa. The setting is amazing, hugely vivid, tackling issues like colonisation, eco-disaster, caste, and colorism but from very different perspectives to the usual. (This is purely African, no Western elements exist.) The magic system is terrifically developed and really creepy, and the politics of the story really interesting.

I did struggle a bit with the characters, in that there's nobody to really root for. They range from out and out sociopath (tbh she was great) to varieties of selfishness and self-centredness, which is realistic but leaves me feeling a bit distanced. YMMV on that but I'm not a grimdark reader and it felt like it needed someone to be striving for something better to relieve the bleakness and violence, of which there was a lot. That plus the sheer amount of world building made this a bit of a slow starter, but once the plot kicked into gear it became a rip-roaring adventure. Will definitely need the next. Also, what a cover.
June 21, 2021

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DNF @ p.255



I was actually in a pretty good place to enjoy this one because I just read (and enjoyed) another West African-inspired fantasy called DJELIYA, which defined a lot of the West African terms and mythology in the back (like djeli, called "jali" in here, which are kind of like maguses/bards). Also, I was obsessed with that cover, which has to be one of my top five favorite fantasy cover releases this year.



Sadly, though, I just really wasn't into the book. I'm very particular about fantasy and romance, and if a book doesn't fit what I'm into, it just doesn't work. Normally I DNF after 50 pages but I really tried to give SON OF THE STORM a fair shot. I liked the beginning and the world-building, but the characters all fell kind of flat for me. It reminded me of Joe Abercrombie's work in that the characters feel wooden and most of the focus is on grimdark world-building and the characters just kind of propel the story along but there isn't a lot of emotion in the story-telling. Some people really like that narrative style, but I like intensely character-focused stories, like QUEEN OF THE CONQUERED or POISON STUDY or THE GHOST BRIDE.



This is definitely a "your mileage may vary" situation. I didn't personally like this story and found it too dry but the world-building is cool and I think if you enjoy Joe Abercrombie (I don't, particularly), you will like this, too.



Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!



2 to 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
295 reviews1,476 followers
July 22, 2021
I liked it but honestly it didn't really stand out much. I think it was because I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and I didn't hate any of them enough to make me care about what would happen to them. My interest did pick up near the end though, so I'm really looking forward to the next one!

Tbh a lot of my lack of connection could've been because I was in a slump when I started it, so I restarted it and listened to the audiobook instead. I liked the narrator, but at the same time I didn't, and it kinda pulled me out of the story.

------

This is one of those covers that's going to be face out on my shelves, distracting me from writing my own book and demanding that I look at it constantly because it's so fucking GORGEOUS.

And I can't fucking wait.

(Also Orbit never misses, so I'm anticipating this being a favourite this year.)
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,545 reviews2,931 followers
February 11, 2021
* I received this for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review *

This story is a new release from Orbit, adding to their growing collection of authors from a wider background and expanding on the fantasy settings and inspirations they have in their listings. The author Suyi is a Nigerian author, and many of his West-African origins and heritage can be seen in the setting for this story. Looking all the way back to old civilisations of Nigeria and inspired by places like Benin City and the Empire. This is a vastly different layout from so many western fantasy settings and plots right from the outset, with deserts and harsh jungle landscapes being a big part of the plot too.

The characters in this book are very different from one another. We have Danso, a young Juri initiate who is looked down on for being mixed race and having skin that's not as dark as is desirable. He doesn't help the hatred people have of him by seeming superior and aloof, even though he does not mean to be, and he's always late. His family honour is often put to the test by his actions and he's quickly chided by his uncles. His father, however, is his only living parent and although they love one another they don't have a particularly close bond, leaving Danso mainly to his own devices.

Next is Esheme, she is the daughter of Nem and she and Danso are 'intended' so they are planned to one day marry. She is fiesty and wants more for herself than she sees her mother getting (her mother is the town Fixer and solves problems for the rich and poorer alike). Her ambitious nature is unparalleled and she is desperate to prove herself and her power as the story develops. Her ruthless side is also prominent and she's definitely not a damsel in distress at any point.

Finally we have Lilong who is a Yellowskin and, by the belief of Danso and Esheme, shouldn't even be alive. She comes from a land far from their own on a mission to retrieve something powerful and magical which could truly change the fate of the world. Her plot is filled with risk and her adventure spans the most time, but her interactions with Danso and Esheme set a course which is far from the one she planned.

The magic of this world is based around creatures and magical minerals called ibor. This magic is generally avoided or unknown of by the main characters, besides Lilong, and yet as the plot unfolds they are often forced to interact with it. Many moments of the magic were interesting to read about, and I liked getting to understand the toll magic took too.

The setting and people of this world are very heavily inspired by the West-African people and places so there's a lot to enjoy from this story if you're looking for a fantasy which represents that culture. It's also wonderful to see the stunning visual on the cover which instantly tells the reader all about the setting and the people in the story. I'm always glad for a beautiful cover, but this is more than beautiful as it's also representative and showing the new wave of more widely-spread fantasy books. It's also genuinely a beautiful design!

Overall the story was a fun one and fairly well paced throughout and although I felt it was a little predictable at times, I enjoyed my journey with the characters and their world. I certainly think the sequel is going to be very dramatic and exciting after the ending of this one and the events which have taken place, and I'd be keen to continue the series and see what happens next.

In the end a solid story from a different kind of perspective than I'm used to, and an enjoyable one at that. Good strong 3.5*s from me with lots of potential for the story as a whole.
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
458 reviews627 followers
October 15, 2021
Son of the Storm is a journey of different that followed povs from characters from multiple castes and ethnicities in world where one nation tries to over power all. The content is separated into different areas with different terrains. In the land of Bassa everyone has their place dependent upon their ethnic background and how their physical features present. Being from the mainland vs desertland in addition to caste and skintone determine your worth. Anything non Bassai is considered inferior with the Idu caste, identified usually by their dark skin being the most favored.

Danso should be among the most favored and in many ways he is but he's also treated as an outsider due to his mixed heritage and lighter skin tone. He is referred to as Shashi which has a negative connotation in Bassa. Despite being a scholar with more knowledge than his peers he is pushed out of university due to his background. His intended Eshame is similarly faces issues being looked down upon as her mother comes from a lesser caste and having an unknown father, though she appears to be better off than Danso. Although while Danso wants to act as he pleases in spite of the system Esheme wants to spite the system and take over power.

Esheme and Danso both find their lives upheaved when a woman from one of the lowest castes, the yellowskins of the Nameless Islands, appears in their city. She is looking for a family heirloom which Esheme's mother Nem has taken. A fight for said heirloom results in murder which leads to the yelllowskin Lilong fleeing with Danso and his indentured servant Zaq by her side.

The book was for the most part written in easy to read language though it was very dense and some passages required rereading. Section 1 was definitely more hefty than the rest of the story. The writing style is unique in that at some points it felt more like a story being told around a fire. While I thought some of the side POVs offered great insights not all of them were warranted. But the book mostly focuses on the POVs of Eshame, Danso, and Lilong. Each are people who don't fit into this world but choose different paths. Once the foundation was down for where the plot would be headed and how magic would be used I was invested. The magic in the world is channeled through stones called ibor and using magic takes a lot out of it's users. It wears the body down, causes temporary memory loss, can causes sickness, and requires a lot of recovery time. I'm not exactly sure where this trilogy is going next but now that the foundation has been set I'm invested.

See longer review at
https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

I received an arc from Orbit in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,001 reviews798 followers
May 12, 2021
On my blog.

Rep: Black cast, sapphic mc, nonbinary li, sapphic side characters

CWs: gore, immolation, violence

Galley provided by publisher

Son of the Storm is a book that grew on me. In part, it had to grow, because I was in the wrong mood for new fantasy worlds (you know how sometimes, the thought of paying attention to all that new information is just…a lot), but I stuck with it, read it in chunks, and ended up loving it just as much as I’d expected to, based on what I’d read of the author’s work previously.

The story follows three main POVs, with occasional chipping in from side characters: Danso, Esheme and Lilong. Danso is a scholar, but barely tolerated on account of the fact that his mother was an outside. Esheme, his betrothed, is the daughter of the city’s fixer, but who wants power for herself. Lilong is in the city to retrieve something stolen from her. Over the course of the story, their paths intersect and come to oppose one another.

Firstly, what I loved most about this book was Esheme’s arc. I say loved, I don’t mean I loved her specifically, because she’s kind of awful in the worst way, but I loved that she just. Got to be so awful. She’s entirely ruthless in her quest for power, and unapologetically villainous, and I loved that. The narrative definitely views her as the villain, I felt, so I’m not expecting a happy ending for her, but she had such a fun arc to read in that respect. Even as I hated her (but in a good way). And she’s sapphic, and I always want to read more villainous sapphics.

And then there’s Danso, aka the himbo of my heart. His were probably the favourite chapters of mine to read, in all honesty. He’s the one I’m most excited to see in the next book, what with his sudden…let’s say change in circumstances. And the undead beast he commands. Gotta be honest here, I love the trope of a character gaining some sort of familiar.

What I would say about this book is that it had to grow on me. As I said at the start, I took a little while to get into it, but then once I had, I binged the last two thirds of the book in just a few hours. The build up to the ending is as exquisite as the ending itself, guaranteed to make you gasp out loud, because Suyi Davies Okungbowa doesn’t believe in some kind of mercy for his readers. You think characters are safe, but they’re really, really not. It’s the sort of ending that makes you nervously anticipatory of what comes next.

So, overall then, if you’re looking for an adult fantasy to pick up in May, I would highly recommend it be this one.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,898 reviews3,122 followers
September 16, 2021
I'm really disappointed I didn't love this because on paper it had a lot going for it. Besides the obviously stunning cover it's West African inspired fantasy with strong female characters, politics and magic. All of which sounds right up my alley.

Unfortunately I found this to be quite dry with a LOT of info-dumpy exposition and characters who seemed interesting in theory, but always felt at arms length. I also have some feelings about our main female perspective character. I'm pretty sure she's intended to be sort of the villain of the story and while I'm all for a good female villain, the specifics of her characterization feel kind of rooted in misogyny. I'm still processing this and maybe I'm wrong about how we're supposed to read her but one of the first things we see her do is have a no-strings-attached sexual encounter with her hairdresser when she's betrothed to someone else. This leads to (spoilers ahead)....

***************************************************************

a pregnancy where she basically uses her unborn, biracial child as a source of magic that drains the life from that child. Which is pretty horrific, and could be read as an extreme vilification of women who end unplanned pregnancies. I'm not certain that's the intention here, but it's kind of how it comes across. So that plus the fact that this clearly villainous woman pointedly has sex with more than one person in semi-graphic scenes while our hero does not....reads as sexist. And honestly, that kind of sucks because initially I was really loving that we were getting this complex, strong female character who goes after what she wants. Except that it then seems she's intended to be the villain of the story. *sigh*

So yeah, I sadly didn't have a great time with this one, but I think your mileage may vary.
Profile Image for Tammie.
303 reviews543 followers
May 22, 2021
Thank you so much to Orbit Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This is the first book to what I can forsee being a new favourite series. I absolutely loved the world that Okungbowa has crafted - I thought that the way the plot played out lended itself really well to allowing us as the reader experience various parts of this world in an organic way. The worldbuilding here is very lush and easy to visualize, which I love.

I also just love the character work in this book. I thought our two main characters had fantastic character arcs, and while the side characters weren't as well-developed as the main characters (obviously), we still got to know a few of them quite well. Zaq and Lilong in particular were favourites of mine. I do wish we got to know the parent figures in this story a bit more than we actually did, but I'm hopeful we'll get more of them in future books. I really loved that in this story, we are primarily following characters who aren't your typical types of characters in fantasy - we're following scholars, rather than fighters, and I loved it. Esheme is, of course, my favourite character - I have a soft spot for villainous women, and she really is no exception.

My absolute favourite thing about this book, however, is definitely the themes that are discussed, as well as the execution of these themes. A core theme in this book is cultural identity and heritage, and I loved that we got to explore a variety of different cultures through different characters, as well as seeing some characters grapple with mixed heritage and what that meant for them personally. I also really appreciated the conversations surrounding privilege and oppression, and how just because someone is oppressed in one way doesn't mean they can't be privileged in others. Other notable themes that were touched upon were immigrant/diaspora experiences, and environmentalism. Honestly, if you're like me and are a very theme-driven reader, this book really shines here and I would highly recommend picking it up.

My only real criticisms of this book are that the middle section did drag a little for me, but once we passed the 2/3 mark, the pacing picked up and it wasn't really an issue anymore. The other thing that I didn't love personally was that we did have a magic system in which different users have varying levels of power based on their natural affinities, and our main character did reach a level of proficiency with far less training than others in the book (not quite but almost a Mary Sue, if you will), which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. However, I don't think this would bother the average reader as much, and I do hope that we'll get to see him hone his skills in the next book.

All in all, I really loved this book and I cannot wait until next year for the second book. Highly recommend this one, especially for fantasy fans who are more character-based or theme-driven readers!
Profile Image for Eva.
175 reviews102 followers
December 16, 2021
Shaping up to become an African Wheel of Time?

(4.5 stars)

This novel revolves mainly around two characters who start out engaged (but there is no romance in here at all) and end up on opposite sides of a larger conflict: Damso is a young head-in-the-clouds scholar who's not very practical or worldly. Combined with his great curiosity and innocent unorthodox thinking, this gets him into a lot of trouble.

His fiance Esheme is a very ruthless woman who's chosen him because she thought he'd be easy to manipulate. This coldness may make you think it would be hard to be very interested in her story arc but that's not the case at all: she unexpectedly becomes the head of her house - and the immediate target of various people who want to destroy that house, or who want to take advantage of her perceived weakness and inexperience. Watching her deft weaving of plans to extricate herself and others from all kinds of dangers and come out on top is really fascinating.

Damso ends up on the run with two more or less willing companions by his side who also become important characters, all of them journeying through the legendary Breathing Forest - a jungle filled with magical predators. He finally discovers some of the truth he's been searching for all his life, and slowly realizes how much is at stake.

The first quarter of this novel went by pretty slowly for me: very descriptive, a lot of exposition and world-building, without much emotional engagement, and I wasn't very familiar with Nigerian English and had to look up some words. But then! As soon as this book takes off, it really grows wings and you realize that just like with Robert Jordan, the descriptiveness is worth it: since most of the book's central issues are societal, one does need to really understand the way this society works and is set up first.

And what a gorgeous world it describes: a large, colorful city with a very complex social structure and various factions, a cool and unusual magic system that demands a high price for power, jungles, savannahs, impassable oceans (due to two moons wreaking havoc on the tides) and an incredibly cool undead animal companion.

The political intrigue is fascinating and very smart, the action exhilarating (although sometimes frustratingly interrupted by a cliffhanger followed by a different POV), the mysterious world and its past are revealed in clever ways, and the book does a great job making you care about this world's future welfare (not just that of the POV characters).

Small weaknesses: takes a bit long to introduce you to the world and describing everything, some dialogues feel a bit contrived, some things are spelled out a bit too obviously instead of trusting the reader to come to the right conclusions by themselves. I also didn't connect with the characters very strongly on an emotional level because they didn't seem very loving themselves: I always find myself much more engaged when a character cares deeply.

But each of the many characters acts in believable ways that make sense for them, different perspectives on the same things are shown and you understand even the antagonists completely, which gives the story a lot of nuance. The world-building feels very solid and considered, and the overall conflicts and dilemmas are tricky and make you wonder what you would do or how they can possibly be solved.

I have no doubt I'll be reading book 2 as soon as it comes out. My wish for book 2 would be for a tiny bit more humor and banter - there was a trace of this here already and I'd love it if there was more. And a bit less "spelling everything out to make it really clear" (although I understand that this does make it more accessible). And more of those awesome magical creatures, please!

P.S. editing this to clarify that what reminded me of Robert Jordan was not so much the content, since the story is different, but more the very intricate world-building and descriptive writing style that helps readers picture this interesting world very vividly.
Profile Image for onthebooksel.
231 reviews339 followers
July 15, 2021
Right after finishing the book: Wow I’m speechless… this is???? Wow???? I already want to reread this

After some time to process:

Thank you to Orbit for sending me a physical copy to review, I did however also buy the audiobook and ebook myself because I'm just that kind of person who needs all the formats! I also posted an Instagram review here if you're interested: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQTnSwqLPgG/

Now that I'm back into the groove of writing reviews I wanted to take a minute to revisit Son of the Storm. This book literally owns my ass. I'm obsessed with Lilong and Esheme, and I'm obsessed with how the discussions regarding the sanitization of history, who gets to tell history, and xenophobia all played out.

Let me start off with the content warning of miscarriage/induced loss of fetus I know this may be an important one for some people so it’s something that happens towards the end and you get an inkling that it’ll happen.

This novel follows Danso, Lilong, and Esheme. Danso is a mixed young scholar who believes his quest for the truth is all that matters. Esheme is Danso’s betrothed and Danso likes to make a fool out of himself and thus Esheme as well. Lilong has albinism with magical powers and a magical bead and ends up in Bassa (the city in which Esheme and Danso live in) to protect her secluded islands magic.

Along the way you encounter a forest that breathes and hunts, a giant bat that has lightning powers, a nearly blind lady that shakes some sense into Danso and Lilong constantly thinking Danso is dumb as fuck. Along the way Danso’s perception is altered and he learns to adapt to the new world around him rather quickly.

Esheme is easily one of my favourite "villains/anti-heroine" and she is hanging up there in my hall of fame beside Valérie from The Beautiful Ones, Ayt Mada from Jade City, and Rin from The Poppy War. Lilong is so smart, quick on her feet, and extremely adaptable. I cannot wait to see how everything will play out in the next book in this series and I am impatiently waiting for even a title/cover reveal at this point.
Profile Image for Kate.
392 reviews231 followers
May 25, 2021
Son of the Storm revolves around Bassa, a city-state that has consolidated power and influence over the whole continent of Oon. They’re able to do this through the proliferation of the Bassai ideal – a set of spiritual, mental, and physical characteristics that a person must have in order to advance through Bassai society. Throughout the entire book, our main characters – Danso, Lilong, and Esheme – find themselves propelled through life by that Bassai ideal, but at different stages and with different mindsets.

For Esheme, who is wealthy but shunned by society for her ignoble origins, the Bassai ideal is a way for her to climb to the top. For Danso, a mixed race scholar who is looked down on for not being pure Bassai, the ideal is an impossible goal that he knows he must achieve. And for Lilong, a member of an islander race long thought to be extinct, the only known masters of a strange and terrifying power, the Bassai ideal led to her people’s subjugation.

Although we do get insights from other side characters, the story really does revolve around these three main characters. And the way that that Okungbowa navigates their differences greatly contributed to why I loved this book so much! Each one has a clear and distinct voice, shown in their thoughts, motivations, and decisions. Even without checking, I could flip to any page in the book and easily tell you who was talking.

Usually, one of the biggest gripes I have with multiple POVs is that it’s sometimes unnecessary. When the characters are all undergoing the same events, multiple POVs and experiences can feel redundant. But I can confidently say that each POV in this book added to the novel as a whole. Even minor characters, like Esheme’s mother Nem and Danso’s Second Zak, provided a unique lens with which to understand the plot.

Full review here.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
1,968 reviews2,690 followers
August 24, 2021
4.0 Stars
What a solid fantasy debut. This book had all the elements I look for in the genre.

First, the worldbuilding was absolutely captivating. I loved the nuanced cultural elements, with clear biases and distinctions between the various people. The prejudices surrounding skin tone rang true, reflecting those of real life. The author clearly put a lot of time into developing a fully realized world and it absolutely showed. This might be the first time I was actually interested enough to look at the map included in the book.

Given the complexity of the worldbuilding, I would personally recommend this series to seasoned fantasy readers who are comfortable with a lot of unfamiliar names and places thrown at them. 

The magic system was equally intriguing. In this first book the characters are still learning about the powers of these ibor minerals and I look forward to the magic system being expanded upon later in the series.

The characters were generally well developed and fleshed out. Told over multiple perspectives, I was pleased to find myself invested in most of the different points of view. I liked the characters were complex and flawed, which made them feel so much more real.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it to any seasoned fantasy reader looking for something new. This book found the right balance between building a captivating world while still providing an engaging story. I am highly anticipating the next book which I trust to be amazing after the setup in this first book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. 
Profile Image for Emma.
970 reviews957 followers
Read
June 8, 2021
DNF

I really wanted to like this, but I’m struggling too hard with the writing style. It’s just not working for me at all.
Profile Image for hiba.
223 reviews294 followers
May 6, 2022
2.5/5

this is a tough review to write because i wanted to love son of the storm so badly. and it does have quite a few good things going for it - the west-african inspired worldbuilding is magnificent, intricate and fully realized. the themes of oppression, historical revisionism, how oppressors have the power to rewrite history and sell lies to keep the populace obedient, were all fascinating and done well. i loved how unique the magic system was and how there are major consequences to using it, how the magic takes an enormous toll on the minds and bodies of its wielders.

sadly that's where my enjoyment ended. the writing style was too dense, long-winded and overwritten for my taste - it made the book feel like such a chore to read. the characters were all varying shades of self-centeredness, and with the lack of genuine relationships between them, i felt emotionally distant and simply didn't connect with them. danso, the protagonist, was pretty bland and uninteresting to me. esheme was the most compelling character by far - i do love seeing ruthless, ambitious, villainous women - but only within the context of the novel. the plot itself was just okay; fairly standard adult fantasy fare that didn't really stand out to me.

i would have still continued this series if it weren't for the writing style and how difficult it made reading the book for me. there's a lot to love here and if the writing style isn't a problem for you, i think this can be an engaging slow-paced epic fantasy book to pick up.
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 22, 2021
DNF 50%

I usually avoid DNFing books past the 30% mark but Son of the Storm and I...we aren't vibing (one of those it's not you it's me cases).
That is not me saying this book is bad, far from it. The author's writing is pretty solid and the setting is vividly rendered. Alas, the book is not so great when it comes to the story, characters, and magic system. I need to feel something (positive or negative) for the characters in order to be invested in a story. And here, well I didn't feel much of anything. The main guy is bland and kind of dumb (two other characters point this out but the fact remains: the boy is thick), then we have a female BadAss-BossBitch who reminded me of a character I absolutely did not care from An Ember in the Ashes, and a few generic side characters (the big silent guy, the girl on a mission for her people).

I just wasn't feeling anything and I'd rather not give this book a low rating. If you are interested in reading this I recommend you checkout more positive reviews (such as Daniel Greene's review).
Profile Image for Kate (Reading Through Infinity).
655 reviews410 followers
May 12, 2021
Read my full review here: https://readingthroughinfinity.com/20...

Son of the Storm is the first novel in Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s new adult fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic. And what a first book it is.

This isn’t just a fantasy story about magic, it’s a breathlessly good tale of survival, political upheaval, and carving out your place in the world.

The story spans many themes and topics, including imperialism, revolution, racial and social hierarchies and prejudices, colonialism, and the bonds of family, and the author gives equal time and attention to each while delivering a tense, dramatic plot and enigmatic characters.

The story benefits from a slow-moving pace, as the author has more time to develop complex, multi-faceted characters, brimming with emotion, ambition, and hope. Despite having a plot juicier than a ripe orange, at times this book feels more character-driven, which is why we end up getting to know so many characters so intimately.

The world building in this novel is nothing short of sublime. Steeped in African culture and myths, the world of Oon comes to life in intricate detail through the author’s detailed descriptions.

Suyi Davies Okungbowa has stated that the world of Son of the Storm is inspired by the Benin Empire, with the societal hierarchies and geographical divisions being loosely based on this period in history.

We learn that Bassa is split into wards, with the inner circles being the most affluent and the outer circles being less wealthy. The university, courtship with an intended, the many languages of the continent, and the caste system Bassa upholds all come into focus through Danso’s eyes.

We see imperialist values sweeping across Bassa, as the people’s desire to simply survive in their city is outstripped by their desire to glorify Bassa in power. Bassai rule already holds sway over Whudasha, the Soke mountains, and other islands, who live in vigilance of them, and this tenuous balance starts to tip out of alignment as Bassa’s zeal to subjugate other lands grows.

The magic system is clever and unique; ibor can be wielded using red or grey stones, and different stones allow users to do different things. But not everyone can wield ibor and the conditions that must be met for an individual to do so make for some of the most electric moments in the novel.

Danso is one of the three main characters in the novel and a Jali scholar at the university in Bassa.
He begins the novel relatively naive and only invested in his own learning and future, but as he battles adversity and hugely unexpected events, he begins to grow and change. By the end of the story, we see someone who wants to help free and liberate all of Oon from Bassa’s clutches.

Danso has many questions about his mixed-race heritage because he never knew his mother. He feels keenly the injustice of being seen as an outsider by the people of Bassa, who view him as not Bassai enough, but being seen as too Bassai by the people of Whudasha and therefore an unwelcome intruder.

Lilong is probably my favourite character. She’s a yellowskin warrior who can command ibor with skill. (Davies Okungbowa explains in his GR author’s note that this is not a slur towards Asian people (there are no non-African characters in the novel), but a term used historically in African communities to refer to the skin colour of people who had a form of albinism.)

Lilong’s transition from grumpy and selfish towards others to trusting Danso and wanting to do good in the world is a subtle shift, but a poignant one. She gradually realises that their actions could alter the face of Oon and makes the decision to help others rather than helping only herself and the people of her islands.

Esheme makes up the third of our three main characters and is perhaps the character I liked least, but also the character whose progression I found the most interesting. She begins the story as an unflinchingly ambitious young woman, the daughter of a fixer, who will do anything for power.

Her lack of care or empathy for those around her (even her own mother) unless they can further her gains made her hard to sympathise and connect with. But I also had to admire her single-minded ruthlessness and cunning. She’s always two steps ahead of everyone else and constantly plotting her third step.

Overall, Son of the Storm is a rich, bold novel with brilliant characters and world building so enticing that you’ll happily spend hours swallowed up in the story.

It manages to capture both the subtle, small details of character feeling and the expansive, explosive nature of cinematic fight scenes. This book marks the beginning of a magnetic new fantasy series, and one that I can’t wait to continue in Warrior of the Wind.

Content warnings for violence, gore and blood, murder, bones, miscarriage, colourism, ageism, emotional manipulation, and misogyny.
Profile Image for Arundeepak J.
103 reviews32 followers
May 29, 2021
4.25/5

This African culture inspired fantasy book is a well crafted novel with complex characters and one of the finest world building I've ever read.

Son of the Storm is the first book in the Nameless Republic series by Suyi Davies Okungbowa.

Quick Summary: This book follows the story of Danso, who starts as a naive scholar novitiate with a good heart and Esheme, ambitious and a cunning women who gets what she wants in any means necessary. When a Yellowskin, who people thought were all long dead came in to their life their life took a turn to a polarising end.

What worked for me in this book :

Worldbuilding & Politics: Son of the Storm is set in an world with African inspired cultures and a color caste systems and the author perfectly described the problems with parliamentarian system and the monarch system. worldbuilding and the layered politics touched in this book were really well done.

Characters: Every characters, i mean every characters in this book were fully fleshed and unique. We can tell which character's POV we are reading if they redacted the character's name, just by their thought process. Most people will definitely like how all the characters were written in this book especially Esheme. She's just... scary, smart, cunning and awesome. she remined me of Cersi from ASOIAF and Savine from A little hatred. She will get what she want by force. she's definitely one of the character you will love to hate. But my favourite is Danso, what can I say I'm a sucker for the character with a good heart.

Magic System: People in Oon (the continent our characters living) can wield the magic by accessing the bone kinda rock called Ibor but this knowledge was hidden to people in Bassa. Only few people know how to properly use the magic. This setup gave an mysterious feel to it as we see how our MC's learn and use the magic, which is pretty cool by the way.

What didn't work for me in this book:

The first 150 or so pages were very slow. The story picks up the pace as Ibor was introduced in the book but before that it definitely tested my patience.

And the pacing was slightly uneven but it wasn't that much as it didn't affect the reading experience for me.

To sum it up, Son of the Storm is a well written novel and a pretty good start to the Nameless Republic series with intriguing characters, Politics, vividly detailed cultures and much more.
Profile Image for christina.
749 reviews
March 24, 2021
I received an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I really enjoyed this book! The magic system was unique, the setting vibrant, and the political system thoroughly written. Each chapter is a different POV with multiple chapters, the three main being: Danso -a scholar and dreamer, Esheme -an ambitious achiever, and Lilong -a traveler out for revenge. Each character is extremely flawed while still being likable, and I found myself rooting for all of them (even when their paths clashed). My only criticism was each of these characters is basically a lone wolf, and there wasn't a lot of camaraderie or banter until the end of the book. I'm invested in these characters' journeys and will definitely read the next book in the series to see what happens next!
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,329 reviews356 followers
May 19, 2021
*hyperventilating wheezing*

That. Is. How. You. Do. Epic. Fantasy!

The scope, the stakes, the characters, the world-building. Everything was fantastic and spot on and all-encompassingly breathtaking.

It is slow to start, and the build is forever, but once I was hooked I was HOOKED.

Definitely a must-read if you are into epic fantasy.

Full RTC

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review
Profile Image for Jemppu.
499 reviews89 followers
November 2, 2022
Decent enough for regular fantasy devising. Could have used more originality to stand out, and some personality to get one invested.

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Reading updates.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,386 reviews811 followers
July 18, 2021
Rich immersive African inspired epic fantasy! Despite the information dumping in the first couple of chapters, I was completely won over by this very accomplished story.
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