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“Spice Road” by Maiya Ibrahim Book Review

Book: “Spice Road”

Series: Book #1 of Spice Road

Author: Maiya Ibrahim

411 pages, ebook

First published January 24, 2023

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim Book Cover

“Spice Road” is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes the stories of Scheherazade and the mysterious jinn. The story took me to an Arabian world, between sand dunes, mysticism and magical creatures. A pleasant surprise and another hit for 2024.

About magic

Magic is still alive in the kingdom of Sahir. The members of the Order of Magicians unleash their gifts through a tea ceremony and tea made from the bark of the ancient Misra tree. Before each mission, the kingdom’s battle shield unit prepares by ingesting the spice. In this way, they can perform their magic while the misra is still in their blood, but when it is used up, the magic fades.

Another important aspect of shield training is that you don’t have to rely on your magic alone. Another good idea from Maiya Ibrahim as it emphasizes the characters. The fact that the book focuses on the characters’ fates, their pasts and the driving force behind their actions is another plus point for my rating.

I liked the magic system that Maiya Ibrahim sets up. Even though “Spice Road” didn’t fully reveal the potential of the world and only gave me a basic understanding of its scope, what I learned made me curious for more. As the story progressed, I learned more about the hierarchy, politics and history of Sahir, but I also discovered the problems, fears and injustices of Qalia, a kingdom that has an even worse fate.

I should note at this point that another element I really enjoyed was the colonization and methodical measures taken to completely eradicate and subjugate Qalia.

Storyline in “Spice Road”

Centuries ago, the two kingdoms of Sahir and Qalia were separated by the Forbidden Wastes. Trapped there are magical creatures cursed never to leave the borders or set foot in the human world. The inhabitants of Sahir have sworn to protect the magic from the outside world and hide their kingdom forever.

As the story progresses, it turns out that what we initially learn and what Imani believes about her own world is not entirely true. Maiya Ibrahim is very good at drawing the reader into the secrets of the past, which she gradually uncovers. The foundations for the world and the peoples are well worked out and have enough room to develop. A good first book in a series and an even better debut for the author.

Characters

The main character is a shield. She has sworn to protect Sahir from the magical creatures that live in the Forbidden Wastes. Imani has made a name for herself as a hunter of djinn, deceptive creatures that terrorize the population. But when the heroine learns that her missing brother may still be alive, she enters into a forbidden alliance with the djinn Kane.

Imani comes from a noble family and has no idea of the world outside the rich neighborhoods. She lives under the illusion that there is no poverty in her country and that everyone is equal before the law. She grew up in a loving and supportive family and is the complete opposite of Taha’s image.

While Imani manages to open her eyes to the injustice and cruelty with which the warlords subjugate the people of Qalia, Taha is completely blind to the misery of others. True to his father’s orders, he is a weapon forged by cruelty and an unyielding parent.

Amira is Imani’s little sister, who is always very positive. Unlike her sister, she has a much clearer view of things outside the Council. Amira is one of the catalysts for Imani’s development.

Through her relationships with the characters’ families, surroundings and friends, her growth and development is clearly visible. The secondary characters also play an important role in the overall plot.

I like how the author portrays the characters’ different positions, views, actions and struggles. Each of them fights their own battles. Your first impression of a character is irrelevant because you will find it very hard not to like or hate at least one aspect of their character.

Mini-romance

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I felt the same way. The romance is pretty small in the story. It focuses more on the characters, the revelations, and the whirlwind of emotions caused by the events of the characters’ journey. And yet it’s there somewhere, just popping up and, in my opinion, has the potential to be a decent fantasy with an enemies-to-lovers love triangle. Because I was actually expecting a love triangle, but those dreary men ruined everything 😉.

Rating for “Spice Road”

Reading “Spice Road” was more than entertaining. The characters are very well fleshed out, the world is intriguing and magical, the plot is interesting and has just the right amount of drama and twists. The pace at which the plot unfolds is just right to keep you engrossed in the story. I give this book a well-deserved 5 stars and am very sorry to have to part with the characters and wait for the second book.

Dora

Hello, my name is Todora, but now also known as Dochka or Docheto. I have two wonderful dragons at home (boys ages 5 and 7) that I am trying to raise in the love of books. I was quite a chatterbox as a kid when I had required reading in school, and now I am trying to make up for it. I love reading fantasy, sweet endings are not my "thing". I love it when there are struggles, intrigue, and surprises in a book that shake you to your core. If I fell into paranoia that all the characters were traitors, my rating would be 5 stars. In short, I love to read and if one day I find a way to make this my sole occupation and get paid for it :D, I will have stumbled into heaven.

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