cover image The Final Strife

The Final Strife

Saara El-Arifi. Del Rey, $28.99 (592p) ISBN 978-0-593-35694-4

El-Arifi debuts and launches the Ending Fire series with a fast-paced epic fantasy inspired by Ghanian and Arabian folklore. The Wardens’ Empire maintains a violent social hierarchy based on the color of one’s blood. There are three classes: the Embers, the red-blooded elite; the Dusters, a blue blooded second class; and the Ghostings, clear-blooded slaves with virtually no rights. Scrappy heroine Sylah lives among the Dusters, working in their fighting rings while struggling with addiction to deadly joba seeds. But Sylah has a secret: she was born an Ember. She and 12 other Ember children were stolen as babies by a Duster-led resistance called the Sandstorm, who hoped to raise them “to destroy the empire from within.” A brutal massacre of Sandstorm’s ranks left Sylah the sole survivor, and she’s lost all hope of a revolution—until someone she’d thought long dead walks back into her life. Now Sylah works to pick up the pieces of the rebellion with help from her friend Hassa, a clever and resourceful Ghosting, and Anoor, the Duster with whom she was switched at birth. El-Arifi keeps the pages flying even while building an intricate secondary world, allowing readers to learn its rules through action rather than exposition. This sets a high bar for the series to come. Agent: Ginger Clark, Ginger Clark Literary. (June)