The book follows a young girl name Tarisai who was raised in isolation with only her tutors and caretakers. No other children were around, and she rarely saw her mother whom she only knows as 'The Lady.' One night she sneaks out of her walled-in mansion of a home and discovers a secret about her inception that changes her fate forever. From there she's thrust into her journey of self-discovery as she travels to the capital and vies for a chance to be part of the Crown Prince's council of elders. In this world, each Emperor has a gift called the Ray in which he selects eleven elders—one from each region of their world—to form a council that can hear each others' thoughts, share emotions and rule together. Tarisai is commanded by her mother to attempt to infiltrate the prince's council so that she can earn his trust...and kill him.
That's all I will say about the plot because there is SO much wonderful, intricate but never confusing world-building in this novel. Jordan Ifueko has crafted a world that's reminiscent of many fantasy worlds you have seen before but still something all its own. I think that familiarity makes it easy to sink into, but it's uniqueness keeps you turning the page to discover a rich and incredible fantasy world heavily inspired by West Africa.
Somehow she's balanced rich characters, a compelling and twisty plot, and a beautifully created world that makes for a knockout of a novel. And it's all in about 380 pages! I honestly am shocked she made something with such depth and breadth in less than 400 pages, especially in the fantasy genre. It's massively impressive. I think the decision to make it a duology is so smart because while this novel has a great conclusion and a satisfying ending, it clearly sets up the plot for book 2 and I cannot wait to see how it ends. It seems like Ifueko had both books planned out before she wrote Raybearer which I appreciate so much.
Overall, I can't recommend this novel enough. If you like fantasy of any kind (adult or YA) I think you should read this. If you're looking for something unique, exciting, heart-breaking and yet uplifting, this is the book for you.