Title: Court of Lions
Author: Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #2
Pub Date: August, 4th
Following the events of Mirage, Court of Lions follows two identical girls with very different lives. Maram is a princess, the heir to a powerful empire. Amani is a rebel, the daughter of farmers, kidnapped to be Maram’s body double.
I read Mirage just a couple of months ago and I was hooked from the first chapter. The introduction to this world, a well-lived and complex world set in space inspired by Moroccan culture, kept me reading. But it was Amani who settled this book as a favorite. From that first chapter we see her bravery and strength, she’s a survivor, and there’s nothing that she wouldn’t do for her people and family. That’s the kind of character that I love with all my heart.
Court of Lions is a story of resistance and power sprinkled with sapphic longing and beautiful writing. Hands down, one my favorite conclusions.
Like I have said, something I keep coming back to Mirage is the writing. This series talks a lot about poetry and the power of words, and the writing almost feels poetic. It’s lyrical and beautiful, it flows so well.
There’s almost a sad tone to the story; we feel Amani’s fear for her family and herself, her pain for everything lost by the hands of the colonizers. And we feel Maram and her grief, for her mother and her culture. These themes of colonization, resistance, grief, identity are complex and painful, but Somaiya always gives us hope.
This series is not exactly character-driven, we have an entire revolution plot going around, but it is character focus. We have such a great insight into Amani’s, and now Maram’s, mind, about their personal stakes and thoughts. Revolutions are for the community, the greater good, but rebellions happen with individuals and they have their own personal fears and dreams. That’s something I deeply adore with books that deal with resistance; looking at the whole picture and then all the little pieces that make it. I love when we are reminded that revolutions are more than ideas.
We follow these two girls, sisters, and their everyday resistance. I love it.
But don’t worry, the action was great and the pacing is just perfect in the story. Every chapter would leave me at the edge of my seat, turning the next page to make sure everyone was safe.
The plot, the writing, the world-building, I adore everything but for me the characters and their relationship are what makes this book shine.
In Court of Lions we get dual points of view, both Amani and Maram get to tell their own story. I adore the insight to Maram’s character. In the first book, I could see her personal conflict, but just glimpses between her relationship with Amani. Here, hearing her feelings, hopes and pain, was incredible.
I loved Amani from that first chapter: she’s resilient, loyal and fierce. She’s more powerful that she realizes and in this book she grows so much. But it’s also very painful for her, realizing she’s not the farmer girl from the beginning, that she’s almost unrecognizable to herself. I felt that. We do what we have to survive, but we also grief for our past selves, for our past lives. As an immigrant, I felt Amani’s heartbreak in my soul.
Now Maram, Maram is my queen, I loved her too. Sure, when we meet her it is hard to know if she would be an ally or an enemy. She’s so much more than that. There’s a lot of growth and healing she has to do. It was incredible to see Maram slowly opening up to relationships, to love, to vulnerability. To survive, she had to lock her emotions, her grief for her mother, turn her back from her heritage. To see her in this book embracing her feelings, falling in love, reconnecting with her culture, it was my favorite part of the book.
I mentioned the characters’ relationships before and I thought I would dedicate a separate space for the sisterhood and romance, as there’s a LOT to talk about and I have a LOT of love for these familial and platonic relationships.
The sisterhood, for sure, is one of the most important things of this series. Siblings can change your life. They make you grow, they push you to be the best version of yourself, they get into your nerves, they fiercely love you, they stand by your side. This is the kind of relationship I have with my brothers, I know not everyone is privileged as me to have supportive siblings, please know I see you ❤
Amani and Maram’s relationship is complicated for sure: Amani’s a slave in Maram’s household and their lives couldn’t be any different. But unlikable friendships are my favorite thing, and unlikable friendships that keep growing to sisterhood? YES YES YES.
It’s through their relationship that they both grow and the plot moves along. They push each other to confront their ideas, to fight for their dreams, to do the impossible to protect the other. And yes, I refuse to think of their relationship like nothing less than sisterhood.
The romance, oh the romance! All the screaming I did when I found out this book would be sapphic. I did a lot of screaming for sure. A lot. Like I mentioned, I love Maram and here she gets a girlfriend! Aghraas is wonderful: a warrior, who is not afraid of being honest or vulnerable. The longing! The slowly falling for each other! Chef’s kiss all around. If you think here it’s where I lost my mind, you would be corrected. The 2020 sapphics not only saved the year, but also fixed my soul and cleared my skin. Thank you.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud is, hands down, one of the best YA SFF series that I have ever read. I mean, you may have guessed it after all the rambling I did. Stories about resistance, revolution and hope are so important and powerful. Combined with a beautiful f/f romance and one of the best sibling relationships, it makes this series a perfect read.
Somaiya Daud is the author of Mirage and holds a PhD from the University of Washington in English literature. A former bookseller in the children’s department at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., now she writes and teaches full time.
Thank you so much Caffeine Book Tours, I was honored to be part of this tour. Please take a moment to check out my follow hosts blog posts in this thread!