Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Released on December 3, 2019, Children of Virtue and Vengeance is the second installment in Tomi Adeyemi’s thrilling Legacy of Orïsha series. In what promises to be a stunning sequel, Zélie must save Orïsha from a devastating civil war, while also hoping not to lose herself in the process.

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too. Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath. With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

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After thoroughly enjoying the first book in the Legacy of Orïsha Series by Tomi Adeyemi, myself (and likely many other readers) had high expectations for Adeyemi’s next novel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance. And while Children of Virtue and Vengeance didn’t necessarily fall short – it’s an enjoyable read – it simply fails to dazzle in the same way that it’s predecessor did. With characters who are seemingly aimless (or at very least headed in the absolute wrong direction), a plot that feels stagnant, and a war that seems meaningless, Children of Virtue and Vengeance has all the building blocks of a great high fantasy novel, but simply falls short in regards to delivering the power and punch of a memorable novel.

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While Children of Blood and Bone had readers falling in love with Adeyemi’s diverse host of characters – from determined Zélie, to revolutionary Amari, loyal Tzain, and misguided Inan – Children of Virtue and Vengeance will leave readers wondering what, exactly, about these characters had them so enamored when they first joined them on their journey two years ago. Zélie, once strong and willful, has become wayward and lost – and with her loss of direction and purpose, Children of Virtue and Vengeance also seems to lose its direction and purpose. Similarly, Amari, Tzain, and Inan also became frustratingly dull to read about, with their characters seemingly going in the circles rather than moving in any clear direction, or towards any clear goal.

“We’re the children of the gods. If someone’s running away, it’s not going to be us.” ― Tomi Adeyemi, Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Similarly, the plot of Children of Virtue and Vengeance felt dull and meandering, with no clear goal in sight, or direction for the titular characters who had previously been so compelling. That is, until the final pages of the novel, where the war increased in intensity and speed suddenly, making it evident to the reader that Children of Virtue and Vengeance is clearly meant to serve as a bridge between the first and third novels of the Legacy of Orïsha series – nothing more. Because, alone, the story told in Children of Virtue and Vengeance is without significant meaning or purpose. But, I would like to believe that, as a part of a series, it is a meaningful bridge between two more powerful stories. And, to be quite blunt? The final cliffhanger was a half-hearted attempt at boosting an absolutely disappointing finale, leaving the reader bored rather than on the edge of their seat. The perfect summation of a book that, like it’s finale, lacked the power to live up to its potential.

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Finally, despite the lack of direction and purpose portrayed by both the characters and the overall plot, Adeyemi’s quality and fluidity of writing still manages to shine through in Children of Virtue and Vengeance. She describes Orïsha – the landscape, its people, the culture – with such vivid and compelling detail that readers can believe that this world could be real. Even a dull, meandering story such as this benefits from beautiful writing, and that is the quality that Adeyemi delivered, despite her lack-luster plotting.

“This will be a land where even the poorest villagers are fed, housed, and clothed. A kingdom where everyone is protected, where everyone is accepted!” ― Tomi Adeyemi, Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Overall, Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi is undoubtedly suffering from what has been commonly dubbed “second book syndrome”. With a forgettable story and bland characters (who fail to grow or develop significantly), the only true saving grace of this novel is Tomi Adeyemi’s superbly descriptive and vivid writing, which brings the world of Orïsha to life, even as the story and characters stagnate within it (3/5).

⭐⭐⭐/5

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