Redemptor (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko
Published by Hot Key Books
Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date : 17th August 2021
For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.
Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.
With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.
A sun for the morning, a sun for the evening. And moons for years to come.
Redemptor is the conclusion to a duology that could’ve shone brighter yet still has that consistent warming glow.
Starting 2022 I wanted to finish a few series I have started in the past two years of my reading journey. One of those series that I have anticipated to finish is Raybearer. In 2021 I read Raybearer tumbling head first into the world and falling instantly in love with all the characters. Jordan Ifueko’s beautifully weaved prose, incredible pacing, and well detailed world building immersed me fully into the story of Tarisai. Which led me to this day when I finally finished reading the sequel and conclusion to Tarisai’s story, Redemptor. From my rating many of you can summarize that I enjoyed the story but not without any bumps along the way, as my rating isn’t the same one I gave to Raybearer. Let’s cut to chase and dive into the nitty gritty of Redemptor.
“I think I’d rather be hated as a weakling than loved as a monster.”
Redemptor is the sequel and conclusion to the shining debut by Jordan Ifueko titled Raybearer that was released in 2020. The story of Raybearer started with a young girl named Tarisai as she is molded and chosen to become of the candidates of the young prince Dayo’s council. Unknown to anyone but her mother, The Lady, Tarisai is bound to a sinister duty and forced to do The Lady’s bidding in a plot against the crown. In Redemptor, Tarisai’s story continues as she has embraced her new role and duties that takes a toll on her mind, body, and soul. As dark forces creep through the corners of her mind and the empire, Tarisai faces a challenge no ruler have faced before in this grueling continuation and triumphant conclusion of the Raybearer duology.
“You don’t get to choose why people love you. But what you do with the love you receive . . . that’s a choice you make every day.”
Raybearer is a story that follow Tarisai, a young girl that has lived all her life within the compounds of The reading gap between the first and second book wasn’t that jarring so I could a recall the events that happened in Raybearer. Though for future reader that are going to pick up Redemptor I can offer you comfort as Jordan Ifueko has masterfully summarizes the important plot points within the few early chapters to remind readers of certain important happenings, terms, customs, etc in case readers are feeling a bit lost about the story or world building. Though some readers may find this a tad bit inconvenient because of the repetition I found it quite helpful. Jordan Ifueko structured it with purpose and well-paced writing as to not bombard readers with a flood of old and new information. The quality of Ifueko’s writing truly blossomed in this sequel as Ifueko threads each sentence to form the story in a cohesive structure that is consistent from start to finish. The vibrant and vivid world building is as consistent as it is in Raybearer. Dare I say Redemptor furthered it’s reaches as readers will get a glimpse of the underworld and the colourful aspects of the twelve realms within the empire. Though I have expected it could’ve been explored deeper Redemptor focuses it’s rays on character development and takes on a more political over arching plot. This is where the bumps on the road is felt.
Though I praise Ifueko for the consistency in quality and writing, there are certain parts that I loved in Raybearer that dimmed in its brightness. The pacing though immaculate during the first half of the story it slowed down as readers are taken into the confines of the palace. The charm of the world building is slightly lowered compared to Raybearer. One of the things that enthralled me in Raybearer is how epic the scope of the world is and yet in Redemptor that scope is minimized. This bothered slightly, I acknowledge that this is a subjective view from me as I had hoped that Redemptor would take Tarisai to different realms instead the setting, for most part of the story, takes place in the palace. I should’ve known this after seeing the map of the palace instead of the world in the first pages of the book. Regardless of my subjective views I’d say the quality is consistent as every part of the world is conveyed vividly through Ifueko’s writing. Especially in the cultural aspects of the world that shows the diversity of the characters and the world through the description of clothes, accessories, phrases, and traditions for example the showcasing of Songlanders calligraphy dance, the innate description of Ai-Ling’s hanfu, etc.
“If one person understands another completely—from their deepest pain to their most passing thought—I think they can’t help but love each other. I think . . .” Dayo gave me a small smile and shrugged, crinkling his burn scar. “When you take someone’s story as your own, it’s no different than loving yourself.”
Jordan Ifueko’s writing is one of the strongest points of the book for me. Ifueko’s writing style is precise In my reviews I have said time and time again that characterization hold the highest importance for me when I’m reading a book. Ifueko’s skill writing a diverse cast of characters is outstanding and well thought-out. This quality is persist in Redemptor and I’d say amplified as Ifueko adds more personality and fleshes out all the characters. That is Ifueko’s magic that has improved in this sequel, it is their ability to breathe life to a character from just paragraph of description and a quip of dialogue. With this Ifueko introduces more side characters and a few new main characters that contributes to Redemptor’s over arching plot. Though the strong characterization in Raybearer isn’t as present in Redemptor. One of the characters that can be either a good display of characterization or an unbearable personification of a one dimensional character is Zuri. I have mixed feelings towards this character and the level of uncertainty in characterization that emanates from him is profound. Zuri’s character could be more well fleshed out and isn’t conveniently tied up with a bow behind a smoke screen of ‘secrets’ and conveniently abled by Ifueko to avoid answering questions. It was infuriating to see Tarisai be hypnotized by this character in the few interactions they have.
“I clenched my fists. Not all pain was worthless. Sometimes, pain could write a story.”
Tarisai’s characterization, if I could describe it the best way I can, is out of body. By out of body I mean that the Tarisai’s growth took a turn that is sometimes questionable. I blame this on the antagonist of the story that haunted Tarisai throughout the story and Zuri. The believability level dropped slightly for me because of the way Ifueko weaved Zuri into the climax of the story. Zuri’s characterization wavered a lot throughout the story that it just made me not trust his motivations and presence. Which led me to not enjoy the satisfying development in Tarisai’s characterization. Tarisai’s development is very dependant on Zuri’s character. It is just hard to see the relationship between Tarisai and Zuri that is seemed more forced than naturally developed because of how this Zuri character is fleshed out by Ifueko. The side characters as well that are a present hum within the story is taken away for the progression of plot that is purposeful but done for convenience to easily transition the arc. Taking a step back from the distracting presence of Zuri, I can see Ifueko’s intention to show a more vulnerable side to Tarisai and the moments that humbled her to see within herself that she cant do things by herself. Though not obviously written it is one of the themes in Redemptor alongside trust, camaraderie, justice, and self worth. The appreciation and admiration I would like to extend for the themes Ifueko conveys through Tarisai’s character development. The ending chapter made me teary to see Tarisai achieve the peace and goals she has tirelessly fought for throughout the book.
Behold what is coming
Final thoughts, Redemptor is a nice sequel and conclusion to the Raybearer duology with it’s important themes and consistent quality. Though there are bumps to achieve the satisfying ending Redemptor still shines that bright potential and unparalleled impact that this series overall have made in showing the beauty of diversity in the young adult genre. It is the prime example of well executed series that has vivid and descriptive world building that is epic in scale that some would think was could only be found in adult fantasy. To that I say NAY because Jordan Ifueko has shown that it is possible and has set my bar high for other young adult fantasy books. I highly recommend the Raybearer series to any reader that is interested in reading something that is not your typical young adult fantasy or for adult fantasy readers that wants to see epic world building and amazing characters but doesn’t want to pick up chonky tomes.