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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Amok is the first volume of the Absolution series by Anna Tan. Fifteen-year-old Putera Mikal is desperate to receive the ability of the Amok Strength, living a life dictated by the ways of the Temple. Son of Sultan Ayahanda Simson of Maha, Mikal is horrified by his father's refusal to heed the prophecy of Kudus, predicting the collapse of the city. To the chagrin of the priests and his advisors, Sultan Simson agrees to a politically motivated marriage with Permaisuri Layla of Bayangan. However, the Bayangans betray his trust and lay Maha to waste, taking Mikal and Ayahanda as slaves. Mikal must now try to keep his faith in Kudus at all costs, free himself, and restore his family's legacy. But can he survive the vengeful Bayangans?
Anna Tan's coming-of-age fantasy novel is full of political intrigue and courtroom drama. Amok shows the moral ramifications of war where ever-changing loyalties and bloodshed make it difficult for people to make the right choice. The plot moves at a brisk pace, with unexpected twists and turns you never see coming. The characters are well-developed, with believable internal conflict and distinct motives that make them riveting to read. Mikal's evolution from a kind-hearted yet naive and privileged brat to someone others look up to felt organic and makes you root for him even more. His friendship with his former slave-turned-master-turned-friend, Yosua, was one of my favorite aspects of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed Amok from the Absolution series and look forward to reading the sequels. Recommended to fantasy lovers.