PrintE-mail Written by Tommy James

Sulema, daughter of dreamshifter Hafsa Azeina, has come of age. A child no more, she embarks on an ancient ritual that confirms her place amongst the Zeerani desert tribes as a true Ja’Akari warrior. However, the festivities are marred when her fearsome mother Hafsa receives warning that Ka Atu, the Dragon King, has sent ships to their shores.


Hafsa has spent a lifetime protecting her daughter from assassins and invaders who would seek to do her harm, particularly those from the neighbouring country of Atualon, which Ka Atu rules. But rather than bringing danger, the ships are headed by the Dragon King’s last surviving son Leviathus, who instead reveals a secret that has haunted Hafsa for several years. Sulema is Leviathus’ half sister, and the only daughter of the Dragon King. The implications of this revelation are far reaching, not only for Sulema and her mother, but also for the countries of Zeerani, Atualon, and the Forbidden City, the latter of which is preparing a half-human army ready for war. Further complicating matters is the history between Hafsa and the Dragon King, and the choice she made to abscond with her daughter instead of staying to raise his son.


In the first part of what is sure to be an epic trilogy, Sulema and Hafsa tread a perilous path of treachery, danger and betrayal as they struggle to navigate the political complexities of a fractured world under the looming threat that the sleeping dragon that lies under Ka Atu’s kingdom will awaken.


It’s no easy feat to introduce a backstory with such complex terrain but after a slightly slower start, Deborah Wolf picks up the pace and thrusts her reader into an imaginative, captivating world that thrills as much as it intrigues. Parallels to the real-life political landscape aside, Wolf has conjured three very separate civilisations marred with a lifetime of conflict and uneasy alliance that are a joy to unravel. The characters are sculpted in such a way that allows readers to empathise with their positions, even when, and sometimes especially when, they come into conflict with each other. A masterful debut that fires on all cylinders and builds high expectations for the sequel.



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