Meji, a Sword & Sorcery Adventure in Africa   Leave a comment

 

Meji

In Meji, Book One, the epic adventure story of two brother begins.

 

By C. Michael Forsyth

Meji, by Milton J. Davis, is a powerful novel packed with human drama and pulse-pounding action that vividly recreates the glorious kingdoms of long-ago Africa. It is heartbreaking that the book, available at MVmedia, hasn’t received the attention it deserves, and that most African-Americans have never heard of it, because it’s on a par with many Pulitzer-prize-winning novels such as The Color Purple.

The saga begins at a moment of high drama when the Great Wife of the king of the Sesu people struggles to give birth. Her twin sons survive, but in their society, twins are considered an abominations — and must die. From the first scene in which the boys’ father bargains for their lives with the chief shaman, the drama steadily intensifies, the conflicts mount, the stakes keep rising, page after page and chapter after chapter. Separated soon after birth, the “cursed” twins Ndoro and Obaseki are raised in radically different civilizations and bound for very different destinies, one to become a legendary warrior, the other a powerful sorcerer.

Interwoven with this main story line are subplots involving characters from several kingdoms with distinct cultures: mighty warriors, noble kings, medicine priests, queens who, through craftiness and seduction, are the powers behind the throne. Like Game of Thrones, the point of view shifts between characters from chapter to chapter. As in that popular series, court intrigue figures prominently as dynasties wrestle for dominance. There’s as much backstabbing as there are exciting battles.

 

milton

Author Milton J. Davis

The story takes place on the continent of “Uhuru” and the kingdoms are fictitious. But the world is clearly the product of years of research into every aspect of African culture in late medieval times — the political systems, the religious beliefs, the trade, the weapons, the clothing. The author’s sure-footed descriptions of these things always ring true. Yet one never feels overwhelmed by detail. There isn’t a wasted word or wasted scene, no fat, just all lean muscle. The pace is fast, often exhilarating.

 

In one riveting sequence, young Nboro accompanies the veteran warrior Shange on a cattle raid. As I read, it struck me that this was as realistic, well-told and moving as the soldiers’ trek in Norman Mailer’s classic war novel The Naked and the Dead. But unlike Mailer, who served in World War II, Davis never experienced a cattle raid, nor could he have dug up all the needed details in any book. The scenes are written with the authority of someone who has immersed himself so thoroughly in research that he can extrapolate from it to build an entirely believable world.

One critical ingredient of great fiction is that the heroes are flawed and the antagonists are fully realized humans, not flat stereotypical villains. That’s the case there. One key character betrays his king and family, but in the chapter that leads up to that fateful decision, sympathy is built up for the character and we fully understand his actions.

Davis’s writing style lives up to his storytelling and the dialogue is highly memorable. Each character has a distinct voice.

“I am no demon,” Ndoro tells Shange at one point. To which the warrior responds, “That is the thing about demons. A Sesu does not know if he has one inside him. I think all men do. It is what makes us brave and gives us strength.”

I was delighted to hear that the book will be soon be-released in a single volume with Meji, Book Two in a single volume. Hopefully this time at bat, the book will get the attention it merits.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: