ARC Review: Court of Lions (Mirage #2) by Somaiya Daud

With lush descriptions and poetic writing, Daud’s Mirage duology transports the reader into this own-voices Moroccan-inspired world. Court of Lions is a beautiful finale to a criminally underappreciated duology.

With lush descriptions and poetic writing, Daud's Mirage duology transports the reader into this own-voices Moroccan-inspired world. Court of Lions is a beautiful finale to a criminally underappreciated duology. Click To Tweet

About Court of Lions

Publisher: Flatiron Books  |  Release Date: August 4, 2020  |  Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science fiction  |  Format: eARC  |  Source: Publisher

Court of Lions coverTwo identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?

After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.

Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?

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My Review for Court of Lions

✨ You can read an excerpt over at Tor.com!

Words cannot express how excited I am to finally be back in this world!!! I adored Mirage and this finale to the duology was an emotional journey – for me as well as the characters!

“‘Our choices shape our destinies. You have a choice.'”

Court of Lions is more heavily focused on the characters and their journeys. The book picks up a few weeks after the end of Mirage and Amani, Maram, and Idris are all coping with what happened. I appreciate that so much time is dedicated to them and their development, as well as having both Maram and Amani POV chapters. This does mean that it takes longer to get to the action that you may expect, but the author’s writing is just as poetic and captivating and the pacing works.

“‘The difficulty is in knowing when you have waited long enough, and when just surviving becomes untenable.'”

Identity is a central theme to this duology. In the first book we see Amani struggle with the loss of her daan and cultural identity, literally forced to become someone else. In Court of Lions we see her really come into her own and gaining confidence. With the addition of the Maram perspective, we see her struggle with her Kushaila-Vathek heritage and her identity. She knows who she’s expected to be, but is that what she wants?

“We were one heart and one mind. We had been drawn inexorably together, against all odds, despite the threat that loomed over us from the very start.”

With the dual perspectives, there are two primary romances full of tender moments and heartfelt yearning. Both of the relationships are secret/forbidden, making the moments they share extra special to read.

While I was most invested in the characters, this installment effortlessly ties together the threads from the first book into a cohesive storyline. This is an excellently plotted duology as the first book really laid all the groundwork for this finale. As a person who loves the belief system aspects of world-building, I loved the lush descriptions of ceremonies, paintings, and Kushaila poetry as it brings the world to life on the page.

Overall, Mirage is a stunning and criminally underrated duology more people need in their lives. Daud’s writing is lush and poetic, transporting the reader into the Moroccan-inspired world she created. The pacing is a little on the slower side, but the story and its characters are captivating. Everything is woven together so well and builds to the action scenes. This is a duology where the stakes feel real and kept me on the edge of my seat to make sure my cinnamon rolls would be okay.

Representation: Moroccan-inspired world & characters, f/f romance, LGBTQIAP+
Content warnings: colonization, grief, mentions of abuse, off-page murder of a child, racism

eARC sent to me by Flatiron Books for my honest review. This has not affected my opinions in any way. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon final publication.

Have you read Mirage or Court of Lions yet or is this duology on your TBR?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

10 Comments

  1. amanda

    September 23, 2020 at 10:22 AM

    Great review! I totally agree with all your thoughts. I loved both books in this series.

    1. Kal

      September 24, 2020 at 8:18 PM

      Thank you so much, and I’m so glad you love the duology as well!!!

  2. Haley

    September 23, 2020 at 1:24 PM

    I just read Mirage a couple of weeks ago, your review has me so excited for this sequel <3 Great review as always Kal, can't wait to get both their POVs in this!

    1. Kal

      September 24, 2020 at 8:23 PM

      Excuse me, but why didn’t you SCREAM at me about Mirage?! *glowers* I can’t wait for you to read this though, Maram’s perspective is delightful

  3. Mary

    September 23, 2020 at 3:56 PM

    This truly was a stunning finale to this duology, and I’m just so over the moon with how beautiful Daud’s writing is. Like, damn. These characters, the intricately woven plot, the gorgeous descriptions, the culture, the world–UGH, all of it is just so good.

    1. Kal

      September 24, 2020 at 8:24 PM

      Right?!?! I literally keep thinking about the series and just… it makes my heart soar! I need to buy a copy of Court of Lions, but I am still kinda salty about the cover change so my editions won’t match lol. My copy of Mirage is personalized and I treasure it.

  4. Shon

    September 24, 2020 at 5:58 AM

    I went ahead and purchased this yesterday. It’s entirely your fault. The book buying ban has been broken once again. How dare you tell me the sequel to one of my favorite reads of 2019 was fantastic! Maram POV? Gimme. She was such an intriguing part of the first book and I can’t wait to get a more in-depth exploration of her character!

    1. Kal

      September 24, 2020 at 8:25 PM

      I’d apologize… but to be honest, I’m not really sorry because YOU DESERVE THIS! I adored Maram’s chapters so much and her character development is just *chef’s kiss* I can’t wait for you to read it!!! (sorry about the ban)

  5. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    September 25, 2020 at 9:06 AM

    Yessss! I’m so glad you loved this! I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet, but I need to fix that ASAP.

    1. Kal

      September 26, 2020 at 2:05 PM

      I swear, this sequel seems to have flown under the radar and that’s a TRAGEDY. I hope you love it as much as I do when you pick it up!!!

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