Title: Kazungul Book 2: Sanctuary of Blood
Author: Marcus L. Lukusa
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Coming of Age
Review: Even though this book is the second in what I believe is going to be a series, it is a prequel of sorts to the first book following the past life of Raymond’s mentor Enoch Bahati. I was quite excited for this as we learn little about Enoch in the first book and I was anxious to see what exactly caused Enoch to turn out the way he did. In the opening chapter of this book we learn of Enoch birth as one of the sons of Hadimas and how he came to know Baba Zachery. I really enjoyed this as Enoch and Baba Zachery are prominent characters in the first book and help Raymond find himself and complete his mission without them he probably would have failed early on or found it far harder to complete the individual tests thrown at him. Enoch discovered his holy power at a young age when he is sentenced to ritualistic death where one man must come forward a strike the child should he die then the evil has passed but should the heavens protect him he would be worshipped by all. Enoch of course survives and is taken into the mountain by Baba Zachery to learn the ways of priesthood and how to fully uncover his power and learn to control it as well. This is a sort of passive exile for Enoch but even as a boy he shows no fear or anxiety towards this judgement he just accepts it and prepares for his spiritualistic journey.
This book really mirrors the first one but with Enoch in Raymond’s role of student. Zachery takes Enoch first to Timbuktu where he is taught to read and write and learns of God and how he manifests himself in different forms with a different name depending on the religion. Enoch also learns of various mystical and spiritual people/creatures that resides in the lands where he lives including the Aziza people who are like angels but they come from the Earth rather than the Heavens. Again this book like the first is extremely heavy on religion and spiritualism so if you don’t like or enjoy these features then this series isn’t for you, although I don’t find these subject over exciting in the way of plot I do find them intellectually stimulating. It is at this point during Enoch’s training that he learns of a prophecy where he will mentor the only one of their kinds that can save their race – Raymond – although this will require great sacrifice from himself. During his physically training Enoch’s copper bracelet is broken thus destroying the only barrier he has to prevent his dark side coming forth but the king of the land prevents the full transformation but it leaves Enoch torn and unable to fully inhabit his human body. I loved how much Enoch and Raymond’s journeys mirror each other going through similar events although with far different outcomes for example, Enoch is terrified of the damage his dark side can do while Raymond in the previous novel embraces this and uses it to his advantage is certain dangerous situations. One thing I did notice while reading this series was there are a lot of Buddhist religious concepts including but not limited to enlightenment, Nirvana, higher consciousness and the principle of oneness. I studied religious studies at AS level and this religion is one of the main ones we looking at, including these concepts and I feel as a reader if you aren’t familiar with them you won’t understand these novel as most of the concepts are explaining in great detail or clarity.
I also didn’t enjoy Enoch as a character in this novel as a boy of his age should be really afraid, nervous extremely anxious at certain points but Enoch just isn’t and I know that plays to his character in the first novel helping to keep calm and collected to help Raymond but in this novel it plain frustrated me as he reminded me of a man in his 70’s not a teenager. I think I would have liked him better if he started off like a normal boy and then gradually developed into a higher being as Raymond did in the first novel but it just feels like Enoch was born a higher being and will never be anything other than that, and once or twice it made me want to hurl the book across the room but I endured because I loved the setting and the great fantasy elements of the novel. By the time we reach the second part of the novel we have learnt little about Enoch’s physical life apart from the beginning chapters when he is with his mother but gained far more insight into his spiritual life and his unique gifts, personally I found this overwhelming and felt it needed more reality to balance and solidify the many spiritual journeys Enoch is undergoing. Also Baba Zachery as a character does have some issues the main one being even though he is an ever present figure in Enoch’s young life I felt like he wasn’t really there that he kind of faded into the background a lot and because of that we could have really done with making him a more forward character or doing away with him completely.
It is in this second part that the book really becomes interesting with the Jimina society coming into play as they did in the first novel tracking and spying on Enoch and Zachery, although we have still learnt very little over the two book of the Jimina society’s origins. Although Enoch receives a vision detailing his true mission and what he has been entrusted to do by Uriel and this against his mother instinct requires his to follow Zachery where he must learn to harness the full power of sceptre he received from the five kings. I did find the pace of this novel more erratic than the first with moments of very quick reading which slowed down and then picked up again rather than a consistent, manageable pace like there was in the first book. We also learn of the decedents of Hadimas and how and why they were hunted and killed despite having done no wrong. I liked learning of how Hadimas came to be and with it his power that was passed through his offspring. The task Enoch has been given by Uriel is to create a stone citadel which will act as a sanctuary from their kind but to make sure the city withstands the ages and any dark forces he must collect certain items from the underworlds. For me personally it is at this point that the novel actually starts to pick up everything before this just seems to be storytelling and spiritualistic campaigning.
The remainder of this novel showed an amazing amount of potential but it was never utilized in the way I imagined and because of that I tended to like the first book better. I also felt this second book in a series of 3 I presume in places feels like a filler book. While I was grateful for the insight into Enoch’s life as we don’t learn a lot about him in the first novel as he is an ever-present character there I felt it shouldn’t have been set when Enoch was a boy but as an alternate perspective on the first novel where Enoch coaches Raymond while he reflected on his own life and experiences would have made for far more interesting reading than travelling through Enoch’s actual life. I felt this second book was good in regard to content but I felt it didn’t have to continuity or fluency of the first book making a slightly tedious read and I even had to take regular breaks in order to process the amount of information within these pages. Due to this the book is a long and slightly difficult read despite being only just over 200 pages. One thing I did really love about this book was the bonus artwork in the back as I had always imagined many of these different beings in my mind and seeing them on the page as some like The Shisha Mountains Nymphs had always caught my attention and they were expertly drawn in an amazing style. I also wish these images could have been dotted throughout the novels as it would have helped me through parts of the novels I found difficult or slow to read.
Overall I felt the writing style was still great and there is still a diverse wealth of characters but the timing and pace of this novel was off and it just didn’t flow very well for me as a reader. I preferred Raymond to Enoch as a protagonist as I felt more connected to him and felt his character just commanded the scene better. I would only recommend this book to people who either enjoy spiritualistic writing or aren’t bothered by it, even though this series does have fantasy element they aren’t really used to their full potential I felt and with the coming of a possible third book I would like to see less spiritual aspects and more fantasy and action sequences. Speaking of fantasy and action sequences they are used in the first book and this one but they don’t come into play until about half way through both novels and then again aren’t used to their full potential but I feel Marcus L. Lukusa’s writing has major potential and he could build a huge fan base if he revises and refines the books slightly to cater to a less spiritualistic audience.
This book was sent to me for review by the author
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