• Alex Lopez

Court of Lions

The Court of Lions has seen the final stands of empires and rebels while silently holding its ground against the turbulent field of rebellion and tyranny.

Amani and Maram are mirror reflections of each other. Yet, all glass has its imperfections. Maram's struggle for understanding threatens to shatter the fine traces of her royal semblance while Amani's quiet spirit is aflame with revolution. One can be the bridge between the oppression and freedom and another can be the catalyst that brings them all together.

To start a new beginning, there must first be an unmaking.

Two years after the debut of Mirage, author Somaiya Daud returns us back to the galactic space of her imagination with Court of Lions. Once again, Amani - a young woman who was kidnapped from her village to be the body double for Her Highness Maram of Andala - demonstrates the courage and dauntless spirit of revolution after being caught in her political interference in Mirage. Rather than pulling her head down, Amani strives to nurture a sense of justice in Maram and put an end to her tyrannical father's reign. In the midst of the political field that surrounds them both, Maram outstretches a tentative hand out to her own past, and culture, in order to find solid footing for the present.

Daud is an author who has a very clear vision for her characters which is very evident in their development throughout the span of this duology. Instead of following contemporary tropes, Daud allows her characters to have an organic growth that involves Maram's identity to come into question and enables Amani to, not only have a voice for justice, but to become a major player in the midst of a political war. Maram's loss of self allows readers to engage with her headspace and permits readers to see the inner workings of a conflicted princess's mind. Her journey ends with a newfound sense of identity - and an unexpected love - that I found so refreshing as a contemporary narrative. Similarly, Amani comes to terms that her fate is not to be a shadow, but a light that spreads itself against a colonialist ideology that triumphs over Andala.

As in Mirage, Daud builds a rich landscape in Court of Lions that establishes a lush setting derived from Moroccan culture that I found to be a vivid and pedagogic experience to learn more about marriage traditions, the meanings of henna applications and heritage, foods, and the layers of language that inspire beautiful, poetic renditions and songs in the book.

Court of Lions is for both the rebel and idealist who would like to voyage into a distinct imagination and immerse themselves in a work of immense world-building and character development that will have you journeying to Andala and back.

About the Book

Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final installment in the “smart, sexy, and devilishly clever” Mirage series by Somaiya Daud (Renée Ahdieh, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful)!

On a planet on the brink of revolution, Amani has been forced into isolation. She’s been torn from the boy she loves and has given up contact with her fellow rebels to protect her family. In taking risks for the rebel cause, Amani may have lost Maram’s trust forever. But the princess is more complex than she seems, and now Amani is once more at her capricious nature. One wrong move could see her executed for high treason.

On the eve of Maram’s marriage to Idris comes an unexpected proposal: in exchange for taking her place in the festivities, Maram will keep Amani’s rebel associations a secret. Alone and desperate, Amani is thrust into the center of the court, navigating the dangerous factions on the princess's behalf. But the court is not what she expects. As a risky plan grows in her mind, and with the rebels poised to make their stand, Amani begins to believe her world might have a future. But every choice she makes comes with a cost. Can Amani risk the ones she loves the most for a war she's not sure she can win?

About the Author

Somaiya Daud is the author of Mirage and a Ph.D candidate at the University of Washington. A former bookseller in the children's department at Politics and Prose in Washingtom, D.C., Somaiya is passionate about Arabic poetry and the cosmos.


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