Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**3.5-stars rounded up**
Court of Lions is the second book in Somaiya Daud’s Mirage duology. This is a YA-Science-Fiction story following an ordinary peasant girl, Amani, who ends up being selected to be the body double for the Princess of their ruthless society.
Giving me Amidala’s handmaiden vibes from the start…
I really enjoyed the first book and knew immediately I wanted to continue on with the sequel. The story itself took me by surprise. For some reason I was expecting more of a blend of SFF, but this is definitely solid in the SF-category.
I found it to be fast-paced, drama-filled and enjoyed the writing style a lot. I also liked the cultural influence Daud lovingly-channeled into the story. Those details made it feel more unique compared to other stories in this genre.
This second book picks up not long after the first. Amani is still getting pulled in two different directions. She continues to want to help the rebellion; to try to make their world a more just place.
On the other side, she has started to build a friendship, however tenuous, with Princess Maram. Amani doesn’t want to betray her, but how can she possibly get Maram to see things from her perspective? More importantly, could she ever get Maram to use her power for change?
There’s also interesting romantic developments in this installment. Maram’s arranged fiance, Idris, of course seems better suited to Amani, but how the heck is that going to work? Their difference in stations would never allow them to be together formally.
And an intriguing new character ends up catching the eye of the thus far frosty-hearted Maram. You could cut the tension with a knife.
One of my favorite aspects of this story though, was the character growth displayed in both main characters, but in Amani in particular.
Amani grew so much in confidence and in the strength of her convictions. She became a leader over the course of the story; the kind of person even powerful people like Princess Maram could turn to for guidance and thoughtful advice.
I felt like Amani, as well as Maram, both were able to grow into the people they were destined to be and a lot of that was because of their unpredictable friendship/alliance.
It definitely felt predictable as we headed towards the final stretch, but honestly, it’s the outcome I wanted. It was a satisfying conclusion and I thought Daud did a great job with the overall arc of the story.
I’m glad I wrapped up this duology and am looking forward to reading more from Daud in the future. I hope she continues in the Sci-Fi space.
I feel like she did an exceptional job bringing a new creative voice to that genre. It felt fresh and fun, but also contemplative and layered. Well done!