The highly anticipated sequel to Raybearer, the instant New York Times bestselling fantasy sensation that set the world on fire 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.
Redemptor (Raybearer, #2)Featured
As time continues and she must convince her those she needs in her council to love her, she is also seeing ojiji, the restless spirits of the redemptors who did not make it out of the Underworld. The clock is ticking, and Tarisai feels the weight of the world on her shoulders. With difficult decisions to be made and her understanding of her own goals evolving, Tarisai will decide who she will be and forge her own paths forward.
What I loved: The world-building continues to evolve in this sequel with more about the Underworld, the creatures in it, and the alagbatos. The politics of the country and the socioeconomic disparity that exists within it becomes more clear and the problems of such are brought to the front as Tarisai evaluates the nobility and their treatment of those who have fewer means and are thus forced into terrible conditions to survive. I found these themes to be particularly poignant, continuing the intriguing discussions of the first book around this and regarding those in power and the things they will do to continue their control. I found an interaction with the volcano alagbato to be particularly interesting in terms of the relationships to the land and impacts of different types of working/goals. Other themes around grief, found family, love, and regret were also really well-developed and thought-provoking.
Tarisai remains a particularly compelling character, but with the support of her council siblings and her own growing self-knowledge, she is really coming into her own. She must fight the forces around her and those that hound her in order to figure out her own mind, strength, and inner purpose, but her journey was particularly powerful, and I appreciated watching her path. Other characters take a backseat in this one, such as Dayo, though he is still there. New characters add to the story and world-building with their own stories and histories. I really loved some of the new characters and appreciated the continuing relationships with Kirah and particularly Sanjeet, who I will always adore.
The pacing here is great with the right amount of world and character building as well as advancement of plot. I expected more time spent with certain elements, but I found it to feel just right as they happened. This sequel felt like the ideal complement to the first book, bringing the duology to a satisfying end and containing a full story in its own right.
Final verdict: Atmospheric, compelling, and thought-provoking, REDEMPTOR is a riveting conclusion to the enchanting YA fantasy duology begun with RAYBEARER. Highly recommend for fans of THE KINDER POISON, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, and ASH PRINCESS.