Title: Requiem Moon
Author: C.T. Rwizi
Publication date: March 23, 2021
One Sentence Summary: Salo and his friends Tuk, Alinata, and Ilapara have made it to the Jungle City as he’s there both a pilgrim to the Red Temple and as an emissary of his queen, but the ruling family is in tatters and plots abound around him, all drawing him in tighter while keeping him blind.
I loved the first book, Scarlet Odyssey, so was eager to get back into this beautiful world. I remembered the first book had such incredible world building that I was surprised at how slowly the story moved. The second book felt like a bit of a reverse in some ways. The world was already set up, so was only expanded on as necessary, and the story had quite a few moving pieces to it. It seemed there was always something happening, but it was hard to follow the story through most of the book. The end, though, was definitely a cliff hanger, so I can’t help but have some mixed feelings. I am not a fan of cliff hangers, though I think it’s far worse to have one at the end of the first book than at the end of a later book when the reader is already fully engaged with the story.
Too Many Threads
Salo, the first Yerezi male mystic, and his friends the foreigner Tuk, an Asazi commanded by the Yerezi queen, and female warrior Ilapara, have made it to the Jungle City so Salo can serve as a pilgrim to the Red Temple and operate as something of a spy for his queen. But they arrive to learn the king is dead and the new king is in hiding at the Red Temple while the prince of another clan has claimed himself prince regent. Thus, the Red Temple is closed to Sal.
Isa, one of two remaining royals, has been crowned king at the Red Temple and her cousin is negotiating her bride price so she can married to the usurper, but she and the mystic running the temple have plans, plans that include and rely heavily on Salo working with them.
As the story twists and turns and plots from many sides turn up, Salo seems to be helpless as he’s pulled into all of them, maneuvered and manipulated as he works to try to define his own place in the world as the only one of his kind.
Requiem Moon is all about too many powerful people plotting with and against each other. The simplicity of the Yerezi is gone and Salo and his friends are stuck trying to navigate a huge city with many factions and beliefs, as well as princes angling against each other. At many times, it felt like a soupy mess with so much going on and I often became lost in the individual strands, only to be yanked here and there back into what I thought was the main story. It was a lot of fun to read all the hints at everything going on, at the greater story of the series, though. There just happened to be an almost bewildering amount of smaller arcs underneath it that made it easy to forget the overarching story.
At some point, I wanted to give up on this book. It was not as beautiful as the first book. The writing erred more on the tell side and it all felt a little blunted when I remembered the first book reading so prettily. But there were so many bits and pieces that ended up building to bigger things and more complications all while moving each part of the story forward that I couldn’t help wanting to find out what was going on and what was happening with Salo, who was acting very strangely for most of the book.
Honestly, I felt this story really kicked in about 60% of the way through. If you can hang on for 60%, the story definitely picks up and things get really interesting and twisted. I didn’t care for the cliff hanger ending, but I’m already invested in the series, so it doesn’t bother me as much as if it would have happened after the first book. The last 40% was definitely the best part of the book, but all of it relied on the first 60%.
A Mystic and a King
Just as the first book switched perspectives between all the main characters and a few more minor ones, so did Requiem Moon though I felt the focus was more on Salo and Isa. They were both at the heart of everything going around in the city. Which was kind of a let down to me because I found so many of the minor characters to be much more interesting. I wished to get more of their thoughts and their stories.
Salo felt like he was bouncing all over the place in Requiem Moon. His character felt insanely inconsistent. At times, he was quite rude. At others, he seemed almost manic. And still other times he came off as an annoying know-it-all with a confidence completely at odds with the man I had previously gotten to know. What was most interesting, though, was that the chapters from his perspective painted him in a more even keel way and helped to explain the behaviors that everyone else saw. Reading him from his point of view and from that of everyone else was kind of a wild ride.
Isa, on the other hand, was a king who was dealing with her heart being pulled in many different ways. For the first time ever, she’s looking at the city as it really functions and is horrified by what’s been going on outside of her gilded cage. I liked that she was eager to do something, but it also made her so incredibly naive, despite all of her carefully laid plans and manipulations. She felt a bit at odds with herself. At times, she just had no clue what was going on. At others, she was incredibly brave and headstrong. And at others she was so crafty I could no longer figure out how she could be so naive about the people she ruled.
The Jungle City
In the first book, a lot of land was covered as Salo was traveling from the Yerezi Plains to the Jungle City. In Requiem Moon, he and his friends are firmly situated in the Jungle City and are free, relatively speaking, to explore. I loved getting to go deep into the city, literally. There were so many interesting pieces about it, from the various religious beliefs to how the classes are separated.
The Jungle City comes off as being a huge place. I also got the sense of it being busy and heavily populated, but, it being called the Jungle City, I also pictured a sprawling city within a jungle. Other than that, I had a difficult time clearly visualizing the world, which was a bit of a disappointment because I adored the world building in the first book. Still, I did find it to be an interesting city.
There are also many very minor characters who are not named, but who have a hand in the overarching story. They’re not necessarily in the Jungle City, or even in the country. It was fascinating because it opened up the world and introduced lands beyond. Whether or not those lands will actually be explored in this series is left to be seen, but I like getting a taste of the difference between these lands.
Almost Too Much Happening
There is definitely a lot going on in Requiem Moon. I still love the African flavor of it and the characters are interesting, though I wish to have gotten more from some of them. There were times when I felt threads were just completely forgotten in the story and times when there seemed to be everything going on at once. It was a little muddled and a little lackluster, but the last 40% really helped to make up for it. The only thing that really severely bothered me was the cliffhanger ending, but, other than that, it was, overall, a decent read and I’m curious about where the story is going next.
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Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.