The merciless ones by Namina Forna

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Namina Forna is back with the second instalment of the African-inspired Deathless trilogy, The Merciless Ones. When we left Deka at the end of The Gilded Ones, she had just discovered that she was the long-awaited daughter of the goddesses that once benevolently ruled the nation of Otera. She is immortal and gifted with the potential to free womankind from an oppressive and patriarchal society. In The Merciless Ones we meet Deka again six months later. She and her warrior friends are exiled from the capital of Hemaira, locked in a protracted conflict with the powerful male priesthood, the Jatu, which controls the land and seeks to subjugate all women. As Deka learns more about the forces and powers in play, she realises that it may not be as easy as expected to defeat her enemies, even with the power of the goddesses on her side. Something is very wrong in Otera and Deka may be the only one with the abilities to stop it.

The Merciless Ones is a typical middle book of a trilogy. It is a solid read without being particularly outstanding. Deka’s story continues in a generally logical manner, although some concepts and character alterations have been inserted into the plot in a rather heavy-handed and at times dissonant manner. Nevertheless, The Merciless Ones functions as a good connection between the first book and the events still to come in the conclusion of the series.

It must be mentioned that Forna is realistic in her portrayals of the abuse and trauma suffered by women living in patriarchal societies. Readers should be aware and keep this in mind when determining whether to read this book.

Themes: African literature, Fantasy, Romance, Feminism, Identity, Womanhood, Oppression, Gender Inequality, Trauma, War, Warriors, Friendship.

Rose Tabeni