Chaka

READ THE WORLD – Lesotho: Chaka by Thomas Mofolo

Translated by Daniel P. Kunene.

This is the fictionalised life-story account of Chaka begins with the future Zulu king’s birth followed by the unwarranted taunts and abuse he receives during childhood and adolescence. Then follows the events leading to Chaka’s status of great Zulu warrior, conqueror, king, and ultimate ruin.

Chaka is one of those stories that’s a blend of fiction and history. Chaka was a real person and this is the account of his life and his rise and fall as a king, but how much of what is in this book is real can be debated.

Chaka is a classic story. It has a father disowning his son and rightful heir due to pressure from his wives, and then that son gaining power and respect elsewhere in order to eventually claim the kingdom that was rightfully theirs. It feels almost Shakespearean at times as there’s a lot of similar themes in Chaka of power, ambition, and cruelty that you see in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Because Chaka’s life is kind of tragic, some things he couldn’t avoid because of the family he was born into, but others were due to his own greed.

Chaka has an omnipresent narrator. Every now and then there’s comments on what happened, or it recounts past historical events to give more context to what’s happening now. It’s a story told in simple language and sometimes feels like it’s a folktale being told around a campfire.

Chaka’s most close friend and ally is Isanusi, a doctor that makes potions and medicines to make Chaka stronger and gives him advice when needed. As the story progresses and Chaka gets more power hungry, it’s hard not to wonder if Isanusi has ulterior motives as he knows a great deal, is a seer, and comes across as more of a witch doctor than a traditional medicine man.

Chaka is an interesting and easy to read story about a king that commanded armies of tens of thousands of men – perhaps even more. Chaka’s accomplishments can’t be denied but his greed and cruelty to the few who did love him, like his mother and the one woman he loved, makes him a flawed but interesting man.

Magical Readathon: Spring Equinox TBR

The Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube and now we’ve completed the Novice Path, we are in our first year of exams. Previously the Magical Readathon was based on Harry Potter and its exams but Gi has now created her own magical world and university and it’s truly impressive. Like the previous iteration of the Magical Readathon, the aim is to read books that fill the prompts for the subjects you need to pass in order to be able to do the magical career of your choice. Gi’s announcement video explains it all and she has a variety of documents that can guide you. This round of the Magical Readathon, the Spring Equinox exams, is a month-long readathon through the entirety of April. The Autumn Equinox exams/readathon will take place in August.

The career I want to work towards is Moon Warden (though it was so hard to choose) which means in this round of the Magical Readathon I need to read 5 books for the prompts Art of Illusion, Astronomy, Elemental Studies, Restoration and Spells & Incantations. As usual though, I’ve had a look at my TBR and tried to find a book for each of the 14 prompts so I can read as much as possible and then give me more choice when it comes to my magical career path.

TomeTopple hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes is happening in April as well (from 15th-29th and the aim is to read books over 500 pages) so that will be some extra inspiration for at least one of the prompts.

As usual with readathons I try to have a mixture of genres and include as many books for my Read the World Project as possible. One of the only rules with the Magical Readathon is that you can’t double up on prompts so one book = one prompt. However, as you’ll see below, I sometimes have multiple suggestions for a prompt and some books can fit more than one prompt but I promise I won’t use a book for more than one prompt.

Art of Illusion – book with a trope you like
The Ivory Key by Ashaya Raman or The Fortunes of Wangrin by Amadou Hampâté Bâ
The Ivory Key is the first book in a fantasy duology and a book I got in a subscription box. The fact that in the author’s note it said she was a fan of the film National Treasure and was inspired by that is what made me most interested in this book. I love that film and adventure/puzzle stories. On the blurb of The Fortunes of Wangrin it describes the titular character as a “rogue and an operator, hustling both the colonial French and his own people” and I do love a morally grey character.

Astronomy – top of your TBR
Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
I’m using my latest Top Ten Tuesday post as inspiration for this prompt, so really any of the books there could be what I end up reading. Beyond the Rice Fields is set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

Elemental Studies – Book under 100 pages
The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
OK I am cheating slightly here as the kindle edition I have is 111 page long but I can not find a book on my TBR that has less than 100 pages. Gi’s always saying it’s fine to tweak prompts to fit (and it’s not like she’d know) so that’s what I’m doing here.

Spells & Incantations – a collection of short stories/essays or an individual short story/essay
From Timor-Leste to Australia: Seven families, Three Generations Tell Their Stories edited by Jan Trezise
I have this on my kindle which is a collection of stories and poems from East Timorese families living in Melbourne whose experiences belong to that long history of human tragedy created where violent conflict of power, land and resources takes place, inevitably visiting on ordinary people, disruption and loss.

Restoration – book featuring healers
Angel Mage by Garth Nix or A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross
I wasn’t sure if any of the books on my shelves featured healers but thanks to recommendations on the Magical Readathon Twitter I discovered I had a couple on my shelves. Out of the two I’m more likely to read Angel Mage as it’s a standalone and I’ve previously read and enjoyed a lot of Garth Nix’s other work.

Alchemy – read a book featuring romance
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales or Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
I don’t tend to read a lot of romance books but I have a few on my shelves, and to be honest, a lot of books feature some form of romance so this isn’t too hard a prompt to fill.

Animal Studies – a quick read
Chaka by Thomas Mofolo (and probably any of the books for the Alchemy prompt)
Chaka is less than 170 pages so that definitely has the potential of being a quick read. Plus, I tend to find YA contemporary stories pretty quick to get through so they’d work for this prompt too.

Artificery – Earth setting
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas or The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
This is one that’s pretty easy to fill as the vast majority of my Read the World books are set on Earth. Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate U Give which I loved and I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. I believe The Fury and Cries of Women follows Emilienne’s life through her university studies, marriage, children, work, and how she tries to search for what feminism means to her while dealing with cultural expectations and the taboos of sex and motherhood.

Conjuration – source of light on the cover
QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed
This is a book I’ve already started once but struggled a bit with but as it’s less than 200 pages long it’s the perfect time to give it another go for a readathon, and as you can see, it has the sun on the cover.

Demonology – word “shadow” in the book/series title
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows is the only book I have on my TBR that has “shadow” in the title but it has been six(!) years since I read the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, so I’d need to reread that in order to carry on with the series. I’m not sure if A Darker Shade of Magic fits into any of these prompts so I may just have to scrap Demonology as a subject/prompt and any careers that need it.

Inscription – an intimidating read
The Golden Horse by Juan David Morgan or Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-198 by Grigoris Balakian
I find both these books intimidating as they are rather chunky and, in the case of Armenian Golgotha, I think it’s going to be a tough read.

Lore – mythology-inspired book
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
This is an Arthurian retelling and as the sequel is out later this year, this is the perfect time to read a it – and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Psionics & Divination – book set in the future
This is the one prompt I do not have any books that can fill it. I don’t have any sci-fi books on my shelves, which are usually the most obvious books set in the future, and nothing else I’ve read the blurb of makes it seem it’s set in the future. Looks like any careers that needs Psionics & Divination won’t be in my future.

Shapeshifting – creature with claws on the cover
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan or She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Both books have a dragon on the front cover which definitely has claws and A Natural History of Dragons would be an audiobook read.

And that’s my Spring Equinox TBR! Are you taking part in the Magical Readathon? If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you think of them. As for Tome Topple, of the books mentioned here, Angel Mage, Legendborn and Armenian Golgotha are over 500 pages so I may try and read them when Tome Topple is happening. Also I do have the A-Z in April Challenge next month too. I already have over half the posts scheduled so hopefully that won’t take up too much of my reading time.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Autumn 2021 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is what books we’d like to read over the next few months. I love setting a vague TBR and then seeing whether or not I actually get to them any time soon.

The City Where Dreams Come True by Gulsifat Shahidi
A collection of four short stories about Tajikistan’s civil war and the effect it had on the people. I have The City Where Dreams Come True and The Cost of Sugar on Kindle Unlimited and as I don’t really use that service much it’d be good to read them soon as then I can unsubscribe from it.

The Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod
The Cost of Sugar has definitely been on more than one TBR but maybe now is the time to finally read it? It follows two Jewish stepsisters, Elza and Sarith, descendants of the settlers and their pampered existences become intertwined with the fate of the plantations as the slaves decide to fight against the violent repression they have endured for too long.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
I read and really enjoyed King of Scars earlier this month so Rule of Wolves is definitely one I want to get to ASAP. I have the audiobook but might get the ebook too as I’m not sure which way I want to read it.

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid
I got The Wolf and the Woodsman via Illumicrate a few months ago and the cover is one that really stood out to me. Like many books on my TBR I don’t know much about it but I think it’s got a creepy forest and a fairy tale vibe – both are things I tend to enjoy.

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian
This is a bit of an intimidating book as it’s a chunky non-fiction about a country’s genocide and it probably will be a book I need to take time with as it’s such a heavy topic.

The Scents of Marie-Claire by Habib Selmi
My Tunisia book for the Read the World Project, The Scents of Marie-Claire tells the story of the extraordinary relationship between the Tunisian-born narrator and the French Marie-Claire

A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska
A Spare Life has been on one of my seasonal TBR’s before and I did start it but didn’t get too far into it so would actually like to finish it.

Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix
I love the Old Kingdom series so am really looking forward to the latest instalment and am interested to see what this prequel adds to the story. I reread Sabriel last month for the first time since 2015 and will be continuing rereading the series until Terciel and Elinor is released in November.

The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
The Desert and the Drum is the first novel ever to be translated into English from Mauritania and is about a woman who leaves her tribe and tries to find her own path.

Chaka by Thomas Mofolo
Chaka is a mythic fictional retelling of the story of the rise and fall of the Zulu emperor-king Shaka.

What books are you hoping to read soon?