Tag Archives: Black Speculative Fiction

Review of Imaro

22 Nov

This is a review of the 2006 Night Shade Books version of Charles Saunders’ African fantasy novel (which replaces the original Slaves of the Giant-Kings with The Afua to avoid awkward similarities to the Rwandan genocide and loses City of Madness to better fit in to volume two; changes only of academic interest to those of us who never read the original version).

The novel is a stitching-together of short stories to tell the story of the titular hero, Imaro, as he adventures in a land analogous to east Africa.

It begins with Imaro approaching initiation into adulthood and discovering that forces are plotting against him. Events lead him to abandon his tribe and become a wandering adventurer in the mould of Conan, even coming to lead a band of robbers.

Imaro is a book of two halves. The first half, inspired by Massai culture, was quintessentially African, presenting a tale infused with African cultural elements that wouldn’t really work in the classic pseudo-European worlds of most fantasy tales. The second half, with its mounted bandits, was a disappointment in comparison because it could easily have come from almost any fantasy setting. That’s not to say it was badly written – Charles Saunders is a great fantasy author – but it wasn’t distinctly African. (The problem is that it deals with an east coast analogous to the real world’s and, thus, heavily influenced by the Middle East.)

If you enjoy fantasy fiction, there is much to enjoy here. Even if you’re not too interest in stepping away from the usual trends of the genre, Imaro is still good fiction. But, you will be particularly pleased if you’re looking for fiction outside the usual run of fantasy tropes as the first half is a brilliant evocation of an African culture.

Charles Saunders created something great, which deserves to be more widely read. Highly recommended.

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Try something different…

3 Oct

Looking for something different to read? Well, October is Black Speculative Fiction month. You could even win a prize! Lots of events going on in America, but even if you’re on this side of the Pond, you can still follow the links to some fascinating sites or get the special horror-themed issue of Black Girl Magic (out on the 15th).

black-spec-fic-month