Author: Jordan Ifueko
The hotly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy about Tarisai’s quest to change her fate
For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.
Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.
With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.
[Raybearer (#1) Review]
Redemptor is the final novel in the Raybearer duology. It picks up right where the last novel left off, so it is highly advisable to read the first before moving on to the second. The story begins with the two Raybearers, Dayo and Tarisai. Dayo is now High Emperor of Aristar and King of Oluwan, while Tarisai is High Empress. They are working on the transition of power after the events in the previous novel and holding off on their official coronations until after Tarisai returns from her mission to the Underworld. With the deal she made, Tarisai is on a quest to Ray-bond with the leaders of the kingdoms to form her own council. This quest and the main Underworld portion are just two pieces in this complex tale. Similar with the first, there are multiple smaller obstacles that are presented and solved along the way, so the pacing remains fairly fast throughout.
In this novel, Tarisai is 17 years old at the start and transitions to 18 by the end. First and foremost, I am very impressed by the growth that this character has gone through since first meeting her at 11 years old. She goes from a lonely naïve child to an adult with her own found family. Nothing is perfect as she is trying to figure out her new role plus the relationships around her, which I greatly enjoyed. It felt very natural and realistic that she was trying to logically work her way through many problems, but emotions also clouded her judgement at times. It is very relatable and refreshing as the “hero” of the story did not know everything, but wanted to work to try to accomplish her goals. One standout struggle is the expectation for the Raybearer to have heirs, but Tarisai does not have a desire for children. The concepts of the Raybearer and the Redemptor are greatly explored through the novel and it was very interesting to see Tarisai’s role in both.
The relationships throughout this story were amazing. Tarisai and Jeet continue to have their romantic feelings, but it is very complex. Each of them have their separate roles and their connected roles on top of these feelings. It was refreshing that their romantic love fit the situation and characters as they care greatly about the other, but it is not simple to be together and they have their own responsibilities that come first. The concept of love is one of my favorite elements of this novel. The word “love” in novels typically relates to romantic love, but this novel takes it a step further. There is all types of love between ideas, subjects (for monarchs/leaders), friends, family, and romantic partners. All are valid types of love and one does not necessarily trump the other. It was a very well done concept and stood out to me while reading both novels.
As both Dayo and Tarisai are navigating their roles as rulers, the two of them spend more time together and it was nice to get to know Dayo more as a character. He is a very interesting character and I would have liked to get know him even further, although I do love that his asexuality is explored. Kirah is away from Tarisai for part of the novel. Since Tarisai is the narrator for the story, I missed getting to further know her character. Although some of Dayo’s other council members, like Ai Ling, and some of Tarisai’s potential council members are more prominent in this story compared to the previous, some of their characters are given more dimension. Ideally, I would have loved to learn even more as there are even some of Dayo’s council that I cannot remember, but I did understand the limitations of the story. There are enough interactions between all the characters to keep me captivated and they were all written well. The characters were all interesting, so I just could not get enough of them and wanted more. Some fascinating standouts for the rulers were King Zuri and Min Ja (Woo In’s sister). Both had important roles in the story and were very complex characters.
Overall, this was an excellent sequel and Raybearer was an amazing duology. The oijji spirits that haunt Tarisai throughout the story were very compelling elements and I loved how the author handled this portion of Tarisai’s journey. The duology is full of a large cast of characters, multiple big-picture plots, and many subplots that were all handled well as it felt that everything within the story had a purpose. As I loved a lot about these novels, of course, I would always wish for more; however, everything that was written on the page was well done. Although I was nervous that my high expectations would not be met in this novel, I am glad that I had nothing to worry about as this was a fantastic read!