*I received this digital copy from the author. All views are my own*
Author Tony Debajo boasted (not really, but it just sounds good for pretext right now lol) that his book In the Shadow of Ruin is better than Suyi Davies Okungbowa's Son of Storm. If you read my previous review of SoS, you can understand my apprehensiveness in taking up Debajo's proclamation. Instead, I get the shock of my life with his telling of two Kings fighting a war of a lifetime. There can only be one!
"Jide spent years garnering the respect and loyalty of the tribes in the hopes of uniting them into one cohesive empire when his half-brother, Prince Olise, returns from banishment to claim the throne as his own.
The offspring of a union between the late King Adeosi and the evil enchantress Ekaete, the bitter Olise has devoted the last decade to one purpose; to seize the throne and rule the kingdom. If he fails, he risks his name being erased from the history of the tribes.
With the support of his mother, a powerful witch whose name is whispered in fear across the lands of the tribes, the outcast Olise now seems unstoppable in achieving his goal.
Facing overwhelming military might and dark forces that he cannot comprehend, Jide must either choose to ignore the warnings of the gods, and seek help from those who also practice dark arts; or risk losing his kingdom."
Since I've read both Nigerian-based novels in the ancient city of Benin, I can officially say that In the Shadow of Ruin is better than Son of Storm. It is a fast-paced, well-written, action-packed story. I enjoyed reading up on the royal family of Ile-Ife as they struggle to grasp their divine purpose in ancient times.
I loved the breakdown of the story. For once, multiple POVs did not bother me. Debajo pretty much kept it consistent with the flow of the story. I admit I looked forward to a little more balance between the young Princes' accounts, but I enjoyed the extra reading time spent with the other characters when things started to get juicy on their end.
I also appreciate the backstory chapters. It helped shape how we got to this historical war that the characters got themselves into. Everything was so vivid, as if I was there myself watching all the blood and glory … from the sideline, of course. I imagine thousands of tribes uniting and storming towards the enemy like a scene from 300 or Apocalypto. The details were everything for this story. I didn't even mind the random characters who died just as quickly as they were mentioned!
Overall I rated this a 5-star read. This book was a well-thought-out tale, and I can't wait until the sequel comes out.
In the Shadow of Ruin is available now.