Book Review: Who Fears Death

Born the product of violence and ostracized for being Ewu, young Onyesonwu whose name means Who Fears Death, knows first hand the strength of rage as she fights against the bonds that would restrain her wild nature. Prejudice abounds against Onyesonwu’s heritage, her gender, age and emerging abilities but worse, her biological father wants her dead. Choosing to participate in the barbaric Eleventh Year Rite against her parents wishes, Onyesonwu undergoes circumcision with three other girls, a decision that forges strong bonds between the four girls. Onyesonwu learns tantalizing clues about her emerging abilities from a young man, a fellow Ewu studying with a powerful sorcerer who seems just as narrow minded as any of the townspeople. In true warrior’s quest form, Onyesonwu and friends leave their homes to begin a profound physical and spiritual journey that will change the face of their world.

Set in the post-apocalyptic African desert, this engrossing tale examines the price of fanatical beliefs, racial issues, gender inequality, slavery and starting with the coward of a man married to Onyesonwu’s mother at the time of her brutal rape, human weakness and foibles. The first third of the book is the best as the action slows down once the quest begins; from there it seems the focus is more on conversations and events that don’t go anywhere rather then on maintaining an even pace. Still, with plenty of magic and excellent world building, this classic, sometimes haunting adventure shows it is possible for one person to change the world.

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