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Maiya Ibrahim

Author of Spice Road

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Works by Maiya Ibrahim


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 Recommended: eh
for an incredible setting, for a story rife with possibilities and big moments, but also there are characters I hate so much I really wanted to DNF this one

My biggest issue with this book was Amira. I freaking hate Amira. From basically page two she's being a massive immature pain in the ass while also being super preachy about it. She's one of those people who condemns someone else for doing the exact thing they themself are doing, and she doesn't even realize it. It's awful and I couldn't stand her. The only way I was able to finish this book was by skipping anything she said and any reference to her name for the last 50% of the book. There was nothing redeeming about her for me.
And when she was like "I promise I won't come." I knew it was going to be a lie because that's just how annoying younger siblings work in an adventure story, but god did I cling to that hope that she would in fact stay home. And of course she emerges by way of waking a legendary immortal giant full of rage. I hate her so much.

I persevered mainly because this was an ARC and I wanted to get more than twenty (incredibly annoying) pages in before quitting, and also because I had so much hope for seeing more of the world and the lore of it. I did indeed get more lore, and I was able to slowly fall in love with that aspect of the story. There's so much history built into it, both in the small daily lives and the world-shaping historical beings and events that exist. Learning about each kept me entranced (until shattered by an annoying scream -- if you read my spoiler or the book it'll make sense).

As for the plot itself, the formula is also pretty common for what magic adventure stories are where a powerful (young) person discovers the people in power have lied to them about something important, and they question right and wrong and their very beliefs. It was fine, but nothing particularly new. I was impressed with the amount of punches to the main character. I mean, damn, this is not an easy ride where everything just somehow turns out fine. She actually has some pretty massive losses and setbacks and pain to overcome.

As for the romance aspect, there's not a ton of on-page romance, though there's a lot of her thinking about feelings and kisses and stuff. Given they're on a potentially lethal mission, this makes sense. No time for snogging! What was included added to the story for the most part though, by building some uneasy tension between the MC and the others in her group. Motivation was kept very obscure for a large part of it, especially to the extent of dude's goals for their mission.

To be honest, I probably won't continue this series. There are some new characters introduced along the way (as well as the ones throughout) who I sense will hang around more in later books that I also just don't care for. Some I'm neutral about, but that's not enough to sell me on it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for a free advanced copy. This is my honest review.
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Jenniferforjoy | 4 other reviews | Jan 29, 2024 |
Very good beginning here. Wilful younger sister, rule-following older one who is part of a protective force called the shield, and a missing older brother who many consider a traitor, and who some also believe him to be dead. Add in a Djinn who is much more than he seems, a quest to find the missing brother, one led by the son of the head of the ruling council, and have them leave a city hidden and reliant upon magic. Mix well and enjoy. I look forward to what comes in book two.
sennebec | 4 other reviews | Apr 11, 2023 |
What do you do when your rose tinted glasses are pulled away?

Imani believes in the council and her brothers death. She believes in keeping Qalia a secret and her family's honour and place in the clan. When all that is threatened by her brothers disappearance, she throws herself into her duties as a shield until her brothers horse leads her and her sister to his secret letters; starting a journey across the desert.

There are many things to like about Spice Road! Imani is a character that shows tremendous growth throughout the book. She doesn't question the history she's been taught; she's secure in her position as an old clan member and expects members of new rising ones to seek her out; she believes her brother is dead; and that no one goes to sleep hungry at night in Qalia.

For Imani the entire journey is a rude awakening to her own privilege (her sister confesses to stealing for her friends because she knows she won't be punished) and also the idea that isolation is perhaps not a good thing. This happens partially because of Taha who resents her privilege who has had to fight for what he had, as opposed to Imani who expected it. And yet, even as we understand Taha, we continue to resent him because the book is told from Imani's perspective and he's still the bad guy. Taha has to kill the boy who mentored him and anyone who learns about magic because he knows that if he messes up there are consequences because of his father. In turn, his father may not be able to hold onto his position because of Taha if the latter shows weakness. Honestly, a take from his perspective would be really interesting!

I loved the whole dynamic with Qayn and how that also pushes Imani into being better! Not just in terms of her skills but also her learning to respect other people. There's one scene which really stands out in this regard, but I'll let you read the book to find out!
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bookstagramofmine | 4 other reviews | Jan 29, 2023 |
A traditional quest story in a unique and fascinating new world!

Spice Road is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by author Maiya Ibrahim, and it is a stellar beginning. I was captivated by the author’s world-building, fascinated by the mythology and the slowly unfolding history of the land of Sahir and the Kingdom of Aqibah. The main characters are worthy fighters and magic users but also have hidden sides. I rooted for the small group of rescuers and scouts even when their loyalties conflicted. Throw in a compelling storyline, and you have an absorbing and entertaining reading experience.

From the city of Qalia in the Sahir to the nightmarish ruins and desert of the Forbidden Wastes, the First City, and the Kingdom of Aqibah, I was impressed by the descriptions of the locations. I felt like they put me right in the story and the action. Along the way, descriptions of panoramic vistas reminded me of scenes from a historical Kdrama.

There was some phenomenal world-building which included the characters drinking tea made from the bark of a Misra tree, at times in a formal tea ceremony, to draw out the strength of their magic or affinity. A person’s affinity was individual to them and varied from person to person, such as being able to manipulate the earth or fire or, in the case of Taha, exert control over animals.

The land of Sahir is unknown and unseen by the rest of the world, and the people in Sahir have been led to believe everything outside their borders is dangerous wastelands. It was interesting to watch Imani learn of the discrepancies in what she’d been taught about the world outside.

The main characters start out enemies, but as they travel together, they slowly change their attitudes toward one another. I was drawn to Imani from the start, and she matures quite a bit over the course of the story as she sees things outside her usual routine. Things were easier and beautiful in her world, but not for everyone else. I liked that she had discovered her calling to be a Shield at an early age and had trained hard with her older brother to excel at this when the time came. The fight and sparring scenes were well-drawn and easy to follow. Her relationship with Taha is a real rollercoaster, and Qayn offers an enjoyable third party.

The high fantasy plot includes a quest to save Imani’s brother, Atheer, who has gotten involved in a rebellion in the Kingdom of Aqibah. Tension mounts as it is revealed that the members of the travel party have conflicting orders or goals related to Atheer’s “rescue.” Secrets and betrayals are lurking along the way, along with an enemies-to-lovers subplot, and some terrifying monsters to escape. I am already looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.

I recommend SPICE ROAD to readers who enjoy young adult fantasy or quest stories.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author or publisher through TBR and Beyond Book Tours.
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KarenSiddall | 4 other reviews | Jan 24, 2023 |



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