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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
“Do not forget the power of symbols. Of heroes.” In City of Reckoning by Brianna da Silva, the Dorish Empire is under threat from an enemy from the north, the Pirimians. As the empire prepares for war, a young leader, Lasía Mae’olo, ponders on the best decisions for her people. Meanwhile, Kindy Sharro, a young noble who is struggling to hide a dangerous secret, sees the war as an opportunity to get rid of her arch-enemy once and for all. Born to be a slave despite his half Dorish lineage, Kastan is a healer’s apprentice for the Dorish army who dreams of freedom. With the chance of liberation, why help defend a cruel empire at all? But the war has many sides, and trust is not easy to gain.
The world-building of City of Reckoning is vast and impressive, filled with folktales, histories, different tribes, and status; more than enough to be the stage for a power struggle between empires including the fight between the oppressed and their oppressors. The Aberrants－people with animal parts such as wings or webbed hands－suffer discrimination and cruelty from others especially from the Dorins. Freedom is the core theme of the story that resonates strongly with the protagonists striving to achieve their goals as they battle all kinds of obstacles. Lasía Mae’olo, an Aquatic Aberrant, is an admirable warrior and chieftain who tries her best to lead her people and take risks when others would not. I gravitated to her the most as she shoulders a heavy responsibility as a leader despite her young age.
It's easy to empathize with Kindy Sharro, who is struggling with her secret and her addiction. Her status and wealth offer little aid to her predicaments, yet for Kastan wealth can free him and his mother. The dark elements of the story are heart-wrenching though expected since it is about war, oppression, and individuals fighting for their people and their identity. This sprawling novel devotes its pages to the development of its characters and its plot wholeheartedly; determination, love, and bravery against despair, hate, and fear. There’s much to lose before anything can be gained. Dark and compelling, the conclusion of Brianna da Silva’s City of Reckoning teases a sequel, and I look forward to reading more of this epic fantasy.