Success or exile: Warrior Yenni faces unyielding options in Given by Nandi Taylor

(cover image courtesy Wattpad Books via Gizmodo)

Unable to watch her father waste away from a mysterious illness, fierce warrior Yenni, of the Yirba tribe, sets off for a distant empire. Determined to find a cure for her father, Yenni travels to Cresh, where she comes face to face with culture shock, prejudice, and a brazen shape-shifting dragon, Weysh. As her gods, the Sha, watch and judge, Yenni only has two options: succeed and save her father, or fail and face exile. To complicate her journey, Weysh believes that Yenni is his Given, his destiny—if only he knew that falling in love isn’t part of her plan. (synopsis via Gizmodo)

Described by Gizmodo as an “Afrofuturistic adventure”, Given is a brilliantly energising breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre.

Following hot on the heels of recent Afrocentric stories such as Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James and Everfair by Nisi Shawl to name just recent entries in this burgeonin sub-genre, Given comes across, thanks an excerpt on Gizmodo as bright, clever, engaging and full of rich characterisation and engrossing action.

Try this short passage on for size:

As if it had heard her, the creature took off, its legs glowing with ach’e as it galloped through the tall grass. Yenni flared the speed runes on her thighs and calves, relishing the familiar warmth of energy coursing through her, and shot after it. Two of her cousins jumped up out of the grass. “Weh! Weh!” they shouted, waving their arms. The n’ne zipped right, where her younger brother, Jumi, kept pace, his runes blazing blue-white on his dark legs. He dove, arms wide to tackle the n’ne, but it slipped free and left him tumbling. Yenni grinned, until she realised the creature now ran right at her. If she scared it, it would turn tail and head straight for her cousin Ade-Ige. He would no doubt catch it and then . . .

Yenni releases today.

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