Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor is the sequel to the young adult fantasy novel Akata Witch. Where Akata Witch focuses on building a fascinating world based on Nigerian mythology, Akata Warrior delves further into storytelling and expanding the magical world. Although, many of the creatures and concepts seen in Akata Witch may not be novel to those familiar with Nigerian and other West African lore, much may be new to the average Westerner and Okorafor gracefully presents some of these aspects to the reader. In addition, pressing questions left in the first book are answered in this follow up.
Our protagonist, Sunny Nwazue, and her friends have matured since the harrowing events of Akata Witch. After Sunny, Chichi, Orlu, and Sasha stopped the murderous Black Hat Otokoto’s plan of resurrecting the evil Ekwinsu to wreak havoc, the coven members continue their training. Sunny not only grows stronger physically, but mentally as well under the tutelage of Sugar Cream. Being a free agent, Sunny still has much to learn about the leopard society.
Although Ekwinsu failed to materialize into the world of our heroes, his defeat at the hands of Sunny and her friends made him realize how powerful Sunny was, motivating him to stalk Sunny. Throughout the world are beasts residing in different environments such as the river beast of the first book, the lake beast, cousin to the river beast, and even a wilderness beast, who have aligned themselves with Ekwinsu and do his bidding. These creatures often attack Sunny, but people around her protect such as the water deity nwibide and the former prowrestler turned guardian angel in Akata Witch. Ultimately, the river beast successfully attacks Sunny, separating her from her spirit face. Normally, when this happens to someone, the leopard person doesn’t live long. However, Sunny survives this attempt on her life.
Separated from her spiritual face, Anwanyu, Sunny must go on a journey to reclaim their connection. This time though, she will not have her other self to help her overcome the ensuing obstacles. We find out that before the events of the first book, Anwanyu/Sunny fought and defeated Ekwinsu only as her spiritual self. During their second encounter, Sunny defeated Ekwinsu as both her physical and spiritual self. It seems that her final task would be to defeat Ekwinsu with only her physical self.
At the end of the book, we learn that Anwanyu, was called to the supreme creator. This left Sunny to face a test on her own. Although, we are told that Sunny and Anwanyu were separated by one of Ekwinsu’s henchmen, the supreme creator was in control all along. This parallels the story of the temptation of Job in the Bible. In this story, Job was a wealthy man who believed and praised God. One day Satan told God that the only reason Job is good is because God has blessed him with much wealth. Then, Satan asked for permission from God to punish Job believing that he could make him curse God. Job then goes through several devastating losses including the loss of all ten of his kids. Ultimately, Job remains faithful and God replaces everything that Job lost. The similarities between Sunny’s story and that of Job being that both were tested by their supreme being and the ultimate authority lies with them.
I would say that the theme of the book is that the power and the strength to overcome obstacles and lives within oneself. This does not preclude the help of others of both divine and worldly origins as Sunny still had some help along the way. Even when we think we are alone or going through trials and tribulations, we have our personal angels present helping us ultimately overseen by The Supreme Deity.
The author’s frequent use of water is pretty interesting, perhaps used as a symbol of life.
The use of Grasscutter reminds me of The NeverEnding Story. The big white flying dog. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I think it would be interesting to see what has happened to the former covens that were formed because sunny and her group were the only group bring the only coping that ever existed. But just something I just thought of thought it would be interesting to see what happened to these covens as they grow older.
One aspect that I felt was somewhat overlooked was Sunny’s status as a free agent. In Akata Witch, this played an important role in explaining her relationship to this new magical world (fish out of water/boy under the cupboard), but in this book, it appeared to have minimal impact. I think it would have been interesting to see more consequences of Sunny being a leopard person continuing in this book even though she has learned much more.
Also, there is always something going on with Chichi. In Akata Witch, Chichi summons a masquerade, which whispered something to her. In Akata Warrior, the masquerade returns for her and basically tries to kill her but also in the first book after she summons that masquerade, she was taken by the counsel and punished for her actions. This time, something is going on between Chichi and the giant spider, but we don’t exactly know what’s going on. So, we probably won’t find out about that until the next book. Akata Woman?
Good book. Good follow up. Looking forward to more.