3 out of 4 stars
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A thriving village is brought to ruins by an invincible army. Their next destination? Zazzau! This story is set in the 1500s, a time when warriors do not fear death and the females have hearts of steel. The pages of their history hold a long record of wars fought between lands with strong military forces. Queen of Zazzau shares engaging tales of ancient African tribes.
The protagonist, Amina, stands out as a woman of great strength. The narrative is full of suspense and events turn in unpredictable ways. There is much to learn from her. She faces both internal and external wars and yet remains unbroken. The setting of this book piqued my interest. The author did a good job of portraying eminent African royal characters. However, I feel that the book would have appealed to a much larger audience if it had more humor. The editing of this book appears to be professionally done. I found very few errors.
During a respite from war, Amina finally gets a chance to live. She falls in love and agrees to a marriage proposal. But misfortune comes knocking when her betrothed, the Kaura, is sent to Nupe where an arrow claims his life. This sets off a chain of events which brings Zazzau into one conflict after another. The sudden death of her mother, the Bakwa Turunku, and the subsequent usurping of her throne by her uncle also added to the strains on Amina.
It takes a colorful imagination and much research to bring people and events of the past alive. The author, J.S. Emuakpor, tells war stories without gore and graphic violence. This novel opens one’s eyes to the struggles of the throne. However, I struggled with this book because of the low morals displayed by the protagonist and her personal guard, Jaruma. I had to double check if the book was a romance novel because the romantic scenes were numerous and steamier than I expected in a book about history.
The author’s interest in superstitions and spiritual beliefs must have fueled the book’s strong emphasis on magic (as seen in the scenes concerning the war god), but it dampened my interest in the story and made it a lot less realistic. But what do I know, perhaps the ancient people of Zazzau were steeped in magic!
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Although the plot development was interesting, I think it lacked diversity. The whole book seemed to focus on just war and romance. I had nothing much to learn morally. This book would appeal to fans of steamy romance. However, If you are looking for ‘pure’ history, I don’t think this book is it.
Queen of Zazzau
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