‘O Bebedor de Horizontes’ by Mia Couto

My rating: 4 stars

O Bebedor de Horizontes is the last instalment of the trilogy As Areias do Imperador (Sands of the Emperor) by the Mozambican author Mia Couto. One of the main differences between this book and the previous two, Mulheres de Cinza (Woman of the Ashes in the English translation) and A Espada e a Azagaia, is that it gives more prominence to some historical figures, although Imani continues to be the main character. The novel is at its best, in fact, when it focuses on her more personal experiences.

Set in 1895 and 1896, mainly in Mozambique, it explores the aftermath of the Portuguese offensive against Ngungunyane, the emperor of the State of Gaza. The narration in the first person by Imani, a young woman from the Vachopi tribe, is complemented by a variety of letters sent to her not only by Germano, but also by other characters, such as Bianca. We learn that within the Portuguese military there’s a conflict between Mouzinho de Albuquerque and Álvaro Andrea. Germano believes Andrea to be a much better person overall. But it’s Imani who has to deal with both of them.

The style of the prose changes slightly depending on what is being conveyed. When Imani is reporting on what other characters did, the writing style is more straightforward, less embellished. On the other hand, when she is being more introspective or recalling her own experiences, words come together more graciously and metaphors abound. Continue reading

‘A Espada e a Azagaia’ by Mia Couto

My rating: 4 stars

Being the second book in the trilogy As Areias do Imperador (Sands of the Emperor), A Espada e a Azagaia continues to delve into similar topics to those put forward in Mulheres de Cinza (Woman of the Ashes in the English translation). It explores not only how characters dealt with one another within the constraints of colonialism, but also how they faced their own personal tribulations, desires and doubts. Overall, it paints a believable social and psychological portray of various inhabitants of Mozambique.

At the end of the first book (about which there will be spoilers ahead), Imani, a young African woman from the VaChopi tribe, fired a weapon at the Portuguese Sergeant Germano de Melo, hurting his hands, in order to save her brother Mwanatu. So, this novel, which is set in 1895, starts with Imani taking him to the only hospital in the Gaza region. With them were her father, her brother and the Italian Bianca Vanzini.

On their way to the hospital, they stopped at a church. The priest there, Rudolfo, had seen so much violence that he neither performed masses anymore nor believed that praying was useful. An African woman who lived there insisted on doing a ritual that according to her would turn Germano into a fish, so he could return to the sea. Throughout the book there are, in fact, various depictions of African rituals and superstition. Continue reading

Book Series – What I’m Reading

Reading book series is a great way to become fully immersed in a fictional world. I’m currently sinking my teeth into five book series and, until I finish at least one of them, I don’t plan to start a new one. Whenever I complete a book series, the plan is to replace it with another one of those on my wish list. I’m only mentioning on this post the series that I’m not caught up on (reason why the list below doesn’t feature A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) and that I want to finish.

 

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

This is the first trilogy in a larger fantasy series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. So far, I’ve only read the first book, Assassin’s Apprentice, which is set in the Six Duchies, a land ruled by the Farseers. Fitz, the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, is trained as an assassin and in the traditional magic of the Farseer family – the Skill. Not only is this book full of court intrigue, it also delves into various human emotions.

After finishing this trilogy, I’ll certainly read the other series set in the same world. Although I considered the possibility of reading all the series featuring Fitz first and only afterwards picking up the remaining ones, I’m now more inclined to read them in order of publication. Continue reading