The Kishi is a fantastic fantasy story to read. It is very refreshing with its African inspired setting, and the mythical kishi is a very different creature to anything I have seen before. As a stand-alone story, it works well on its own and is an excellent first entry in the more extensive world for the larger series that it is apart of. Tales From Esowon looks like it will be a very unique series moving forward if the world building in this book is any indication.
Now, I think it is important to acknowledge two put offs that people could have in the story before I continue further. The violence in this book is a bloody affair. The fights are well described, and the carnage isn’t left to the imagination. And a sex scene about midway through the book that I found gratuitous. I personally found that the detail was unnecessary and if skipped, nothing important is lost. The importance of the scene is in its consequences, not the actual sex. (I probably should expand my thoughts on sex and violence in a dedicated post for clarities sake.)
The plot is very character driven. The internal conflict of Amana, the main character, lines up well with the external conflict. As well as naturally setting up the villains as character foils for Amana before they come to blows. The actions and abilities of the characters truly impact the world, and the villains’ power to specifically undermined that really makes them pose a threat to the world.
While the villains are interesting and the timing of their part in the story relevant to Amana’s development, I do find that the elimination of the most compelling villain first and the death of the least developed character last to be underwhelming. It works thematically concerning Amana’s journey but does make it feel like there are two third acts.
I’m not going to lie it is a bit difficult to talk about the principal characters without revealing too much of the story, and I pride myself on giving non-spoiler book reviews. I haven’t really seen an online book review that doesn’t spoil the story in favour of providing some analysis. However, here a non-spoiler review would paint the characters with too broad a brush. So what I’m going to say is that no character is wasted in their role in the story, and each character has an appropriate number of layers to themselves in relation to their importance to the story.