Raybearer is a story about revenge, friendship, and family. It is a story about being trained for one purpose and the strength to fight it. To figure out that what we want is more important. With fantastic world building and an ending that invites more, I loved reading Raybearer! Keep reading this book review to find out all the themes I loved!
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood.
That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Created for one purpose, Tarisai’s quest is one of agency, bravery, and complexity. It’s a story that dares to defy what we think is possible. That shows that fear, possibility in the impossibility, motivates fates crueler than we can imagine. Retribution, revenge, and vengeance turn into inspiration on cold nights and in hungry bellies. Motivating decades long strife and conflict as truths go unrecognized. Raybearer is a story about justice. About the price it costs and the lengths one must go to in order to set the record straight.
It’s also about the struggles for agency, for going against what we have been taught, and for realizing freedom demands costs. I loved the complexity in Raybearer as it’s a story of Tarisai’s personal journey, but also about questioning what we know. We see her actions in the grander context of a world of injustice and hidden history. Wondering how much revenge and true change will cost in a society that is entrenched in the status quo paved with blood. These are some of the reasons, thematically, I was flailing over Raybearer. Having a major side character be on the ace spectrum didn’t hurt either!
World building and Pacing?
The world building was revealed slowly to readers. And I loved the world building, not only because of the magical system, but the politics ended up stealing the show! I cannot wait to see what future books might hold because I need to know more about the world! I think my only minor complaint was the pacing. It’s a case of that feeling when you think a book will stretch into the tension and then moments appear which feel anti-climactic only for you to keep climbing another hill. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – all these mini peaks – and it kept me guessing, it was just a bit shocking at the time. It’s like one of those, “but I thought that this was going to go on, but woah this is a new direction”.
Raybearer is a complex novel that keeps you guessing. Thematically, I loved reading about a quest for agency and to uncover the secrets of the world. This book bites off a tremendous amount, most of which it delivers on. There are tons of little things I loved – like her relationship with her mother which was all sorts of complex. Not to mention I loved the romance story line as well! All in all, it’s a fabulous debut and the beginning of, what I hope, will be a series!