Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?
After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.
Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?
*ARC received as part of a blog tour. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*
Trigger Warning : death, war, murder, colonization, physical assault
Hello, everybody! Welcome to my stop for the #CourtOfLionsTour hosted by the Caffeine Book Tours! I’m really thankful to Shealea for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Court of Lions picks up almost immediately after Mirage. Amani and Maram are still reeling from the events of what happened in Mirage, and this follows the journey the two take as the war around them intensifies.
As is the case with amazing first books, I went into this with a guarded hope that the sequel would be as good as the first book, but somehow preparing myself for maybe being disappointed in case it didn’t. Thankfully, it completely did. Court of Lions was a worthy successor to Mirage which was, if I may so, even better than the first book, and the first book is absolutely awesome.
I think what I love most about this book is the political intrigue. The little nuances in forging allyship with other members of court, the subtle games you play, the little things that matter. It was all so well thought out and planned. It might maybe make the book a slow read for others, but as someone who enjoys all the court politics in any book of any sort, I loved it. It made me love the book even more.
The other thing that, in my opinion, elevated the book really well was Amani & Maram’s relationship. The two go through so many ups and downs as the story progresses. They learn to trust each other once again, come to love each other, and do become sisters in the truest sense of the word. The way Amani appoints herself as Maram’s elder sister, and really does try to protect Maram as an elder sibling would made me love her so much.
Maram is my favourite character in the series, so I was really happy to see someone in her corner for once. As we’ve seen in the first book, Maram doesn’t have many friends, she doesn’t have people she cam trust. She’s very much alone in everything she does. Amani fills the spot in many ways, giving Maram someone she can trust, someone who she can rely on. I really like that.
Maram has such an excellent arc in this book. The way she tries to go back to her roots, to accept her Kushaila heritage, is a very fulfilling journey. Earlier, we’ve seen how she tried to other herself from that part of her identity because she’s been made to believe it’s something to be ashamed of by her Vathek father. But, Maram really comes into her own in this book and finally starts accepting herself for who she is, not who she is expected to be by her father.
Her romance with Aghraas is also pretty swoonworthy. The yearning and pining, the conversation, the intimacy is all so captivating and gorgeous. I absolutely loved reading the few chapters from Maram’s POV that we got as they showed her relationship with Aghraas blossom. Aghraas is beautiful, headstrong, and amazing woman, so I totally see where Maram is coming from and why she falls for Maram. Going into this book, I was not expecting an on page f/f romance, but what do you know? This book just keeps giving.
Coming to Amani… She had her own battles in this one. Trying to find hope in all the bleakness that surrounded her, to be there for Maram the way she wanted to, to find a way to go back home to her family, but at the same time, wanting to save her people – she had a lot to fight for, and fight she did.
Amani’s sheer determination to come out on top of the situation she was thrust into, making the best of it, while also plotting to overthrow the colonizing, invader king, was nothing short of inspiring. The way she carried herself throughout the book was admirable. She had her work cut out for her with so many things against her all at once, and yet, she never wavered or lost hope. My respect for her grew by leaps and bounds in this book.
Her romance with Idris was equally turbulent as the rest of the aspects in her life, but it was beautifully shown. The pain, the angst, the sheer yearning. WOW. Gorgeous. It really did hurt in so many parts, but the way they both stayed true to each other through it all, always supportive and understanding… I get all the feels just thinking about it.
The world building in this one continues, and even expands outside the palace. Many new characters are introduced, all of who play a very pivotal role in the story. They were very well woven into the arc and added so much more value to the story as a whole.
Court of Lions is a very amazing book, a great sequel to Mirage. As a whole, the duology is utterly captivating and gorgeously written and I’d 10/10 recommend it to lovers of SFF everywhere.
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(Click on the photo to be redirected to the launch post for the tour!)
Somaiya Daud is the author of Mirage and holds a PhD from the University of Washington in English literature. A former bookseller in the children’s department at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., now she writes and teaches full time.
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