Hello fellow bookworms!
A few months ago I got a message by a self published author with the question of whether I’d be interested in reviewing her book.
Of course, being such a small blog, I never thought I’d get a message like that and so I said yes without much hesitation.
Disclaimer: The author was kind enough to send me a copy of her book but the opinion stated in this review is entirely my own. I have not been paid to do this.
“If they weren’t fast enough, they would soon be slaves. And slaves were property, and property was money and power.”E. Y. Laster
The laws are different in the Kushite ruled Kingdom of Nabara. The penalty for involvement in the slave trade is death, and if the King fails to provide justice and order under ma’at, the High Priests can order him to commit suicide. When a Roman slave ship wrecks off the coast of Nabara, peace is shattered. Ancient caravan routes, pastoralists, and nomadic hunters are threatened by kidnappings, robbery, and murder, forcing Nabaran High King Amkar Kashta to invoke the power of the six-kingdom alliance that is Nudolla. Each member of the ruling families finds themselves thrust into the rising slave trade, and the corruption of everything and everyone it touches.
It is an adventure told from the secret sanctuaries of the desert fathers in the Scetes Desert, and the massive pyramids of Meroë, to the Skeleton Coast, and over the Great Barrier Mountains of Apedemak. Here, kings and queens, princes and princesses, slave traders and gladiators, high priests and slaves, scribes and warriors, caravan robbers, and hermits collide under the thread that links them all – Captivity and Kings.
“I am my father’s daughter.”E. Y. Laster
Usually, I would try to give a run down of what happens to the main characters in a book but for this one, I can just say that I really identify with Imanishakheto.
I thought she defied the gender roles that I read out from between the lines in an amazing way. She is fierce, she loves to read and generally, I thought she was one of the more developed characters. I was also curious about Nekili and Naima, the two girls from the prologue, but unfortunately, they didn’t play a big part in the book overall.
Komoro, on the other hand, was a character I found myself constantly annoyed at. There is something about him that I cannot quite pinpoint that just did not speak to me.
The reason I am not running down the plot of the main characters, is that there are too many and during the time I spent reading, I found myself confused as to which character’s story I was following at certain times.
However, there is a character register in the back of the book, so that made the entire process a little easier.
“The pyramids were built to last ten thousand years. They touch the sun.”E. Y. Laster
The book is set in ancient Africa.
If you have knowledge of the Egyptian Empire in the 15th century BC you will find that the Kush Empire actually existed, and it was located where today you would find the Republic of Sudan.
I did not, in fact, know that before I looked it up for the sake of writing this review.
In the book, South Africa is divided into six smaller Kingdoms, but the plot line, as one might guess based on the synopsis of the book focuses on the Kingdom of Nabara, located in today’s South Africa.
Another interesting historical connection is, that the slavers are citizens of the Roman Empire
“Talk spoken in darkness always comes to light.”E. Y. Laster
I went into the process of reading this book with a certain set of expectations, and as much as it hurts me to say that, those expectations were not met.
I had an extremely hard time trying to stay focused while reading, and because of that, it took me two months to finish this book.
That does not have to be a bad thing per se, but a book of this size would usually keep me busy for one week or so.
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of characters in this book and it was tough trying to keep up with them and their plot lines, so I would often find myself confused. For my personal taste, there was also a lack in character development.
Also, I remember that when I was halfway through, I still didn’t feel like this book had a plot that spoke to me, and I was beginning to be bored of what was happening.
However, I loved the writing style and the lore; the cultural and historic aspects were what kept my interest in this book.
The first disappointment was finding that the book did not focus on the two characters from the prologue, Nekili and Naima, because the prologue was, bluntly said, what got my hopes and expectations up. I would have loved to learn more of their story and I was disappointed to find that the book moved away from them quite quickly.
I gave the book three stars because, as I said, the historic and cultural aspects as well as the writing style have kept me going when I was reading this book. They made up for the flaws that I mentioned.
I also have immense respect for people like E. Y. Laster who, now that diversity in media is gaining an audience, are putting themselves out there to share their heritage, and I can tell that she definitely knew what she was talking about, even though I myself have almost no knowlege of ancient Africa and its culture.
I don’t consider myself that much of a history nerd, but I know how much joy it is to share about cultures that go by almost unnoticed.
So, should you buy this book?
Yes. I think it’s worth a try, and we all know that one person’s view shouldn’t dictate how others see the same thing – so just because it wasn’t the perfect book for me, doesn’t mean you’ll experience it the same way.
If you enjoy books that go into the direction of LoTR, Game of Thrones and incorporate ancient African/Egyptian and ancient Roman culture, then “Of Captivity & Kings” is definitely a book you should consider.
About the Book
Title: Of Captivity & Kings
Author: E. Y. Laster
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: 2018
Page Count: 402
Price: 15.99 EUR
Recommended for: Ages 16+