Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud is the sequel to her debut novel Mirage, which is now a finished duology. Be sure to check out my review of the first book for a refresher on what’s happened until now.
Court of Lions will be available in the US as of August 4, 2020.
Quick recap of Mirage
Mirage ended with Princess Maram discovering that Amani knew about the assassination attempt on her life. Consequently, Amani’s failure to come forward to Maram about her ties to the rebellion shattered the princess’s trust (and friendship) toward her. This treachery means punishment and isolation for Amani.
Nadine, Maram’s Vathek head stewardess, is the one to punish Amani. She forces her to watch a video recording of her parents and brothers as droids beat them.
Through this, we learn Nadine serves Amani’s father, King Mathis. She is power-hungry and vile, using her close position to Maram to try and control her. And to Nadine’s credit, it seemed to have been working for a number of years. Until Amani.
Book one ends with Amani glimpsing a tesleet, a symbol of hope and strength, then vowing to fight for what she believes in: the freedom of her people—the Kushaila—and all Andalaans throughout the galaxy.
How will Amani rise up from her dire circumstances, and how will her relationship with Idris, Maram’s betrothed, pan out?
I was excited to find out.
Court of Lions summary (spoilers!)
The first chunk of Court of Lions is Amani moping around, afraid to do anything else that might put her family in danger. She is alone, gets no time with Maram, and spends the days weaving tapestries while pining over Idris.
Before long, it is Maram’s wedding day to Idris. Maram orders Amani to stand in for the ceremony (and wedding night) on her behalf. This pains Amani because she is in love with Idris. She sees the situation as a cruel form of punishment.
Court of Lions shares chapters from Maram’s perspective, and some date back to several weeks before the wedding. These scenes show us that Maram has a soft spot for her mother’s heritage and that she’s been experiencing some inner conflict on how to secretly embrace her Kushaila side while being the heartless Vathek ruler her father Mathis expects her to be.
We also learn she’s gay, which explains why she has zero interest in marrying the handsome Prince Idris (that’s great news for Amani!).
As the story goes on, Amani works with Idris and members of the rebellion to take down Mathis and place Maram on the throne. This is all the while Amani stands in for Maram for the two-month-long wedding formalities as tradition requires.
Court of Lions ending
Amani is by far the strongest character in the duology. Though dispirited at times, she shoulders the most responsibility of everyone. She balances her feelings for Idris and her duties to Maram with grace to ensure the safety of her family. And she rallies and unites a number of families against Mathis. This is with no help from Maram, really.
Maram is preoccupied with reconciling her Kushaila heritage with her feelings for Aghraas. I thought their burgeoning romance was one of the sweetest in the duology.
The final showdown to take out Mathis occurs during the last stop of the wedding tour, at the Court of Lions in Qarmutta. The rebels fight against Mathis’s faction in the skies and on the ground. And eventually, they clash with Mathis and his guards inside the palace. Mathis dies, and the same fate awaits Nadine. Maram has her executed.
The victory doesn’t mean the rebellion’s work is immediately over, though. City by city and planet by planet, the rebels face opposition and have to stamp them out.
By the end of Court of Lions, everyone gets a happy ending. Maram makes Amani a princess, and she and Idris end up together. Maram gets to be with Aghraas and rule. And we get to see Amani united with her parents and brothers. We also find out that Amani’s mother is a famous general. She is Moulouda al-Farisiya, the daughter of Mustafa el-Fatihi, the dowager’s exiled brother.
The duology ends with a scene between Maram and Aghraas. Maram realizes her mother’s dream, and looks forward to shaping a future of justice and love for all.
Book review: Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud (Mirage #2)
I rated Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud 4 stars on Goodreads. If you read my review of Mirage, you might recall I had a few questions about Amani’s supposed passion for writing poetry, and about where Maram was disappearing to for days and weeks at a time. I’m happy to report the second book answered half my questions.
On the one hand, we find out Maram was off getting in touch with her Kushaila roots and falling in love with Aghraas (which I was thrilled Daud went this direction with one of the main characters).
Unfortunately, there still weren’t any scenes where Amani herself was writing poetry. Maybe I’m mistaken in that she only liked to collect poetry or recite it rather than write any of her own, but I was a little disappointed. But maybe now that she’s married to Idris and doesn’t have to worry about her family’s livelihood, she can afford that luxury.
I struggled with pacing. Daud spends an entire page talking about architecture or Amani’s outfits and jewelry (this happens frequently in both books), yet when it comes to major plot points, she speeds through them. For example, Mathis’s death and Nadine’s execution. Or the wedding ceremony. These scenes were all really significant, but they didn’t have any climax.
I would have liked these scenes to be more detailed and to see how these deaths emotionally impacted Maram.
I also would’ve liked to see what happened with Amani’s best friend—the one who was wounded in the coming of age ceremony. It seemed like a lose end to me.
All in all, I would recommend, Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud. It was a world unlike other sci-fi-fantasies I’ve read, and I always enjoy stories that cast strong women leads.
Court of Lions quotes
I will hold off on sharing my favorite Court of Lions quotes until the book is officially available in August.
Until then, you might enjoy The Lost City by Amanda Hocking. The Lost City is book one in the final trilogy set in the world of the Trylle. I will be reviewing book two, The Morning Flower, in the next couple of weeks. So if you like YA fantasy novels that have diverse characters, definitely give it a read!