The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi (Amina al-Srafi #1) | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural.
But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will.
Yet the deeper Amina dives, the more it becomes alarmingly clear there’s more to this job, and the girl’s disappearance, than she was led to believe. For there’s always risk in wanting to become a legend, to seize one last chance at glory, to savor just a bit more power… and the price might be your very soul."
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is the first novel in Amina al-Sirafi, a fantasy series by S.A. Chakraborty.
I am sad because I was rooting for this book. I absolutely adore the concept of pirates, especially when it is pirates + fantasy, so when I find a book that has both I will read it without question and hope for the best. The best is sadly not what I ended up getting with this. I knew I might have been in for a rocky journey because I didn't manage to get into her other series, so the odds of me liking this were lower.
I did manage to snag it right away though when my library obtained a copy and went straight to reading it. A rocky journey it ended up being indeed, because it didn't manage to hold my interest at all even right from the beginning.
Let's get into some details.
The reason why I say reading this book started off rocky was because of the writing. We initially follow a scribe named Jamal, who is recounting the adventures of Amina al-Sirafi. We do follow Amina at the moment through these recounters, but Jamal's interjections throughout the book made it confusing to follow because I wasn't sure whose perspective the story was being told through. I wish the perspective was a lot more straightforward and clear, kind of like how it was done in The Name of the Wind.
While my interest was held slightly initially, it was only due to the author's note giving the historical context (which is always appreciated) as well as the comments regarding the portrayal of women throughout history as they are told through a male lens. Interest was quickly lost as soon as the story went ahead, however. I just didn't find Amira's adventure to be all that enthralling, though I wouldn't say it was bad. It was just very 'meh', which again is disappointing because I wanted this to really work for me.
The only compliment that I can give the book is that it did end up setting up the direction for the rest of the series in the end, should that be the direction the book goes in. The story did stretch a bit to get there, which resulted in me not liking the more fantastical side of the story so much.
When a story focuses entirely on the events of the life of someone, I need to find said person interesting. Amina just didn't do much for me as a character. Before you even meet her, she is set up to be this grand pirate who everyone knows about and has done so much in her lifetime, but she fell kinda flat for me. That is partially because of her lapses of logic in certain situations throughout the novel that made no sense to me. I ended up liking some of the side characters more than her.
This was a huge swing and a miss for me. I had this on my list of most anticipated books of the year, and for it to fall so flat for me is hugely disappointing. It wasn't bad, just disappointing. Will other people enjoy this, probably, but it sadly didn't work for me.