ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Somaiya Daud is a PhD holder from the University of Washington. She took to writing from a very young age. Somaiya pursued a degree in English literature with a specialization in world literature and nineteenth-century Orientalism. She worked as a bookseller in Washington DC while pursuing her master’s degree. Somaiya Daud is passionate about Arabic poetry and the cosmos. Mirage is her debut novel and the first book in the Mirage duology.
The story is set in the fantasy world of Cadiz, a lonely moon to the planet Andala in the Mizaal Galaxy. It has been captured by the ruthless and brutal invaders from the planet Vaxor – the Vath empire. The Vathek are determined to wipe out the entire civilization of Cadiz by destroying their customs, traditions, and language.
Amani emerges as the protagonist of Mirage. She lives in a poor and impoverished village in Cadiz. Amani is a dreamer, who loves poetry and believes in the power of hope. She wanted to leave Cadiz and explore the other stars in her galaxy and beyond. And then the Vath showed up.
Amani is kidnapped by the Vath during her coming-of-age ceremony, which marked her entry into adulthood. She is taken to Andala, their mother planet. In the royal palace of Andala, she meets the Vathek high princess, Maram Vak Mathis. Amani is surprised at the striking resemblance between herself and the princess.
Princess Maram is notorious for being as cruel as her Vathek father. She is hated by the people of Andala and Cadiz. Amani has to act as her body double in public and face the ire of the people. Should the need arise, she is even expected to be ready to lay down her life instead of Maram.
Amani is trained to dress, speak, and act like Maram. Although a prisoner in the palace, she learns to appreciate the beauty of the place and forms a deep bond with Idris, the fiancé of Maram. Amani travels to faraway places and takes on unexpected challenges while pretending to be the high princess.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT MIRAGE
Mirage is a a beautifully written fantasy novel. It transports you into the surreal world of Andala. It takes you on a tour of Andala’s magnificent palaces and interesting landscapes. All the characters in the story are meticulously crafted and play timely, significant roles in the plot. The author painstakingly describes the worlds of Andala and its people, culture, and clothes. Finally, the mesmerizing Arab poetry makes the story even more magical.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT MIRAGE
The story is a bit slow in parts. For instance, some elements of Mirage seem too stretched out and readers may end up losing some, if not all, interest in the story line. The intricate details of physical abuse, oppression and imprisonment may be disturbing for its intended target audience – readers aged 13-18.
All may see the stars, but few will see their forebears. And to those whose eyes see golden fire We say heed Us and listen.
Mirage merits a respectable score of 3.5 stars. The world that Somaiya Daud has erected is simply marvelous. Readers will do well not to wish being in the mythical world of Andala, which ends up being conquered by the invading tribe of Vatheks. The author’s attention to detail is quite remarkable. That said, she ends up spending too much time in the build-up. In a plot as slow-paced as this, seasoned science-fiction readers will always know what is coming next. If you are not familiar or experienced with the genre, this is one book that you probably will not regret reading.
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