The sequel to Beast Made of Night, Crown of Thunder is a fabulous sequel. I adored the world building in the first book, but this book truly shone in the development of the world and the characters.
Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima’s dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan.
With Arzu’s help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik—sin-eaters with Taj’s same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik—one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends.
Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She’s immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima’s magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny—a future she’s not sure she wants.
As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj’s true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he’s hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her mostly deadly weapon—Taj’s former best friend, Bo.
Picking up right where Beasts Made of Night left off, Crown of Thunder throws us right back into the action again. As we navigate this new world, we’re besides Taj as he must make sense of the new world order and where he belongs. But what confronts Taj and Aliya are secrets that threaten to destabilize everything they thought they knew. And the secrets might already be out.
I adore Aliya – even if I would never be able to keep up with her. What really fascinates me about Crown of Thunder is that their world is right post-fall. We have to see if we can pick up the pieces and where they will lie. At the same time, Onyebuchi continues to develop the sin-eating narrative that I know and love.
What is our guilt and what is the guilt of the sins we have eaten?
That question always haunts me when I think of this book. How can we deal with our own guilt? Guilt is something that Taj is really struggling with in this book. And I think it makes him a better character. He always had to deal with guilt that was not his own. But what about now when is it his fault? When he feels to blame?
At the same time, Taj goes from being on one of the lower polls of society to having more power. And he’s not sure what he should do with it. When he travels to this new society he had never even heard of, everything he knows is questioned. But there’s no such thing as a utopia.
This newer society asks us if we are fighters or healers? And this question becomes mirrored in how Taj must figure out if he can repair society. Do we have to go back? And how do we fix it? At the same time, Taj has to ask himself if he just got attached in this role. Can we break free and find a different way to live?
I love how Onyebuchi talks about guilt and forgiveness. The key to the guilt is forgiveness. Do we harness it, the sins and all, and use it as a weapon? But forgiveness which can is always the harder route.