In a cruel empire, in a different world, there is a caste system at work in which people are sorted by the color of their blood. Red blood (“Embers”) is for the elite group, in control of everything. Blue blood (“Dusters”) is for the working class. And those with clear blood (“Ghostings”) are relegated to being slaves.
Three women, Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa, come from different backgrounds but a bond builds between them as they each have the same goal of changing the world. Sylah is an expert at combat but she has an addiction problem that prevents her achieving what she wants.
Anoor finds herself in the running for role in society. She will have to compete in a number of categories against other, well-trained, highly-competitive contestants and the winner will be ‘the chosen one’ and will have the opportunity to change society. Anoor’s weakest area is physical combat, and she seeks Sylah’s training to hopefully give her edge.
I was reading the hype for this book (ie: the PR from the publisher) and what got me most interested in checking this out was that this has “its roots in the mythology of Africa and Arabia.” I really like the idea of pulling stories from old mythology and I am completely new to the world of African and Arabian mythology.
The cast system based on blood color was also a new idea for me, and I generally liked it, though perhaps I wouldn’t have minded a little more background on this. Which is a little ironic, given what I’m about to comment on next.
I like the themes. I like the characters. I like the general world-building. I did not like how so much of this book is purely set-up. This is the first book in a trilogy and this book is over 600 pages long. The length isn’t so much a problem except that the actual story doesn’t really start until at least the last quarter of the book.
What this means is, we have 400+ pages that is really nothing more than set-up so that we can get ready for books 2 and 3 with book 1 being only about 150 pages worth of story.
It is a very exciting 150 pages, and there’s a twist near the end that I didn’t anticipate and which I really liked (however, I have a couple of questions about how things were accomplished, which are never addressed).
I should also note that the setup is not actually all the interesting – I was bored for most of the book. Setup for the sake of setup is dull and I believe this is an all-too-often sign of a debut author.
The actual story, in the last portion of the book, was very exciting and had me on the edge of my seat, but I’m not sure it was enough, given the bulk of the book prior to it, to have me wanting to read the next volume. I guess I will wait to see what my reaction is when the next volume comes out.
Looking for a good book? The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi is a debut novel, the first of a trilogy, based on African and Arabian mythology. There’s some exciting story and wonderful characters, but there’s a whole lot of set-up one has to get through to get to the story.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Final Strife
author: Saara El-Arifi
series: The Ending Fire Trilogy #1
publisher: Del Rey
hardcover, 608 pages