Book Review: This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi

Publication datePages
Feb 1, 2022512

Clashing empires and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.

Tahereh Mafi did not fail to impress in her latest release: This Woven Kingdom. The ending left me breathless—and it’s needless to say that the wait for the sequel is going to be a long one.

Alizeh is a protagonist impossible not to love. She’s intelligent, compassionate, and above all, NOT NAIVE. I can no longer keep count of the number of YA female protagonists who are portrayed as innocent and then make decisions that significantly impact the plot and make no sense. Having a capable female main character like Alizeh was such a refresher, especially as I felt the protagonist in Mafi’s Shatter Me series fell short in that domain.

I couldn’t help but empathize with Alizeh, as Mafi renders her emotional trauma and pain in a raw, honest light.

“Alizeh knew she could survive long hours of hard labor, knew she could persevere thrugh any physical hardship. It was not the burden of her work or the pain in her hands that broke her—it was the loneliness. It was the friendlessness of her existence; the days on end she spent without the comfort that might be derived from a single sympathetic heart.”

This Woven Kingdom, page 145

I appreciated that Mafi gave equal insight into Kamran’s mental health, given that he is a male and authors tend to skip over that aspect when developing a male character. He is presented as a young man burdened with responsibilities beyond his years. His grandfather, the king of Ardunia, is growing old and believes it is necessary to begin transitioning the power of his position to his grandson. As a result, Kamran too feels a sense of loneliness which manifests itself in his volatile temperament.

Now, while Alizeh and Kamran are in vastly different positions, they share the pain that comes with a burdened existence—and even though the time they actually spend together is limited in the first book, their dialogue is lively and humorous, leaving me interested to see how Mafi develops their dynamic throughout the series.

Another thing I loved about this book was the fact that the side characters ACTUALLY HAVE CHARACTER. They play relevant, believable roles in the lives of the main characters and I truly feel the story wouldn’t be just right without them.

Mafi’s world-building was spectacular. Even for someone unfamiliar with Persian or Islamic mythology, Mafi seamlessly integrated the lore with little bits of commentary within Alizeh’s thoughts, allowing the cultural elements of the story to make sense. I loved the way Mafi embraced and presented a culture rarely represented in YA literature and I can’t wait to see more of it.

While the plot development was slow at the beginning, it allowed for Mafi to unravel the spirit of the characters and the dynamic between them. The pacing picked up as the book progressed, and the plot twists at the ending were enough to leave me dizzy. Ok, that’s a little hyperbolic. But I did let out an audible gasp.

I would recommend this to any and all YA fantasy readers because this read is one of Mafi’s best works yet. It has a rich story, immersive characters, and a thrilling ending that cannot fail to leave you intrigued. It’s definitely a 9.5/10, a rating I do not give to just any book.

All I can say is, I need the sequel like yesterday 🙂

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