Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orisha #2) (2019) – Tomi Adeyemi

Title:Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Author:Tomi Adeyemi
Publication date:2019
Publisher/s:Pan Macmillan/Henry Holt and Company
Star Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the follow up to 2018’s Children of Blood and Bone. In the first book in The Legacy of Orisha series, we are introduced to our heroine and all round bad-ass Zelie and her brother Tzain whose mother was killed in something called The Raid. The Raid was responsible for removing all magical abilities from those that had powers. Zelie and Tzain come from a family of Maji and they are left with their father to raise them. Zelie unwittingly meets up with the Princess Amari whose family were responsible for taking away magic and killing her mother.

Amari had stolen a scroll that would allow the people of Orisha to gain their powers back. However they would first need to obtain a few more items and perform a ritual in a temple to bring the magic back. Soon Zelie, Amari and Tzain are traveling across Orisha in search of the other magical items that will help them restore magic. In that time Amari’s brother Inan is hunting for his sister and is very loyal to his parents King Saran and Queen Nehanda who as the monarchy, have it in for those that possess magic. In Zelie’s village one of the elders Mama Agba sees in a vision that they will find a way to make the ritual work and they begin their long journey to the temple.

In the meanwhile Inan manages to burn down Zelie’s village . Inan after touching the scroll realizes he too has magic and is determined to destroy it. They succeed in bringing magic back, only to discover that Inan himself is Maji. During one of their battles both Amari and Tzain (who have become lovers) are captured and Inan and Zelie put aside their differences to save their siblings’ lives. When the siblings are eventually rescued King Saran kidnaps Zelie and has the word ‘Maggot’ carved into her back. She soon discovers that her powers are gone.

We are also introduced to Roen, a young pick pocket who helps them get to the temple where they perform the ritual to bring magic back. During the chaos that ensues Zelie and Tzain’s father is killed by King Saran. Her father’s death somehow awakens Zelie’s power and she is able to summon the dead to help them win their fight against the monarchy’s ambush. In his determination to destroy the scroll Inan attacks Zelie and the King witnesses his son’s powers. The King tries to kill his own son, and Amari steps in to save her brother and kills her father. She is now Queen. In the end Zelie manages to speak to her mother through magic and is told that her fight to liberate the Maji is only beginning…

“A new Orisha is on the horizon…”

The sequel begins where CBOB ends with Zelie’s growing attraction to Roen heating up, and Inan back at the palace in Lagos with his mother and the determination to be a better king than his father ever was. Meanwhile Zelie and Amari have now found a place to live for a little while in a colony of Maji knows as the Sanctuary. Here they joyfully meet up with Mama Agba again, and the rest of the Maji’s rebellion movement known as Iyika who have now taken to calling Zelie ‘The Soldier of Death’. Amari’s powers are growing and Zelie is reluctantly training her and helping her control those powers. Zelie no longer trusts Inan even though they once shared an attraction to one another. Soon enough she begins to distrust even Amari, and finds only solace in her brother and in Roen.

Between the Maji and the monarchy, a war has begun and Majis are being hunted down mercilessly. The Iyika retaliate by sabotaging Lagos’ food supply, and Amari and Zelie set off to seek the ancient scrolls pertaining to the different clans so they can be kept safe from harm. It is then that they are once again confronted by Inan, the Queen and the Titans, a group of the queen’s soldiers who will do anything to protect the royals. The temple of scrolls is soon destroyed.

“For decades. We strike them. They strike us. The cycle never ends!”

In the many clashes between Maji and monarchy, Amari and Zelie are no longer in agreement and it is mostly because of Amari’s recent communications with her brother through their dreams. Zelie cannot forgive Inan, even though she is subconsciously still drawn to him, and the past they shared, whilst Amari is convinced her brother is doing everything he can to be a good king.

As future queen Amari must learn to discern between those she can trust and those she can’t, and to realize that she cannot rule by her emotions. Inan is finding his loyalties hard to bare, and as for Zelie, laying love aside for the good of the people has never been particularly challenging until now and not long after tragedy strikes after the sanctuary is attacked.

“You are the children of the gods. You shall never be alone”

Written through the alternating perspectives of Zelie, Amari and Inan, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is not only more ‘action-packed’ than its predecessor but also manages to maintain the emotions that were so significant in CBOB. The power of magic and what it ultimately means for each of the characters becomes even more prolific in the sequel, and the reader is quickly reminded as to why this world and its people crawled into our hearts. Orisha’s dark history hangs over the people of Orisha so much so that they have spent decades blaming one another, and now it is time for our protagonists to go back to the past and claim their power once and for all. First though they must learn to work through the very mortal issues of love, trust and family, whilst never forgetting their past and those that battled before them.

Adeyemi’s world-building is phenomenal, and not being a regular fantasy reader I have a particular love for this series. The author was influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement when she began writing Children of Blood and Bone, and this sequel brings to light the very poignant and obvious segregation between ‘the people’ and their constant battle with those in power. If any thing is more relevant today then Adeyemi’s Legacy of Orisha series are the books we should be reading, and also with the knowledge that nothing is ever as it first appears, and that there is always more than one side in a war.

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