Saunders' novel fuses the narrative style of fantasy fiction with a pre-colonial, alternate Africa. Inspired by and directly addresses the alienation of growing up an African American fan of science fiction and fantasy, which to this day remains a very ethnically homogonous genre. It addresses this both structurally (via its unique setting) and thematically (via its alienated, tribeless hero-protagonist). The tribal tensions and histories presented in this fantasy novel reflect actual African tribal histories and tensions, and provide a unique perspective to current and recent conflicts in Africa, particularly the Rwandan genocide and the ongoing conflict in The Sudan.
"Saunders alone has appreciated the potential of Africa as a backdrop for heroic fantasy." (Publishers Weekly)
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Immersive African High Fantasy
- Adrienne Hood
Not a token, not a sidekick, he's the HERO.
Swords + sorcery + soul. This is an entire world purely base on African culture, folklore and mythology. Today, there are other works of fantasy in the "sword and soul" tradition, but this was first (or at the very least, among the first). It is unique and refreshing in how it treats people of color and it's a really great adventure story on top of that. I wish I discovered this when I was in middle school, but I 'm glad I found it.
This will be a spoiler: For me the most memorable moment was when Imaro rejects his people, or rather his mother's people. That was the first big thing that was really unexpected but was not the last. It's always a good thing when the progatonist can surprise you.
No. I have not heard any of Willis's other work, but this is a good example sample of his work. He narrated in a pretty standard voice but each of the characters had an "African" accent that gave the entire story a cultural feel. Given that and the fact that that he did this for multiple characters, I'd say it was an impressive performace.
No. I don't think such a book exist for me. When I really enjoy a reading or listening session, I don't always just want to plow ahead. A lot of time I like to put the book down and reflect on what I've read or heard.
Although this is one book, the story is divided into about four or five separate adventures that each have their own beginning, middle and end, but all of them fit together to make Imaro into a true epic. Additionally, there is language that further enhances the imagined culture. I'll have to get a printed version so I can actually see it on the page.
- Steven L Stringfellow