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When I first started the Black Panther run by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Ayo and Aneka, two members of the Dora Milaje quickly became the best part of the series for me. So to get a book with a large focus on the two of them was a great surprise. The fact that Roxane Gay wrote this made it even better.
World of Wakanda put the focus on several members of the Dora Milaje from new recruits to veterans as they trained, warded off attacks on Wakanda, and slowly began to question Black Panther and whether he truly was putting Wakanda's interests first. There was a lot of inner conflict for the characters to deal with, and I loved seeing each of them struggle to figure out how to honor their oaths while still doing what they thought was right.
And I just really love Ayo and Aneka. It was nice seeing the start of their relationship and its progression. This book gave me better context for what they're doing and why in the Black Panther series. I now want another book or two (or more) of their adventures.
The only part I didn't like of this book was the very last issue which switched to a story about White Tiger. While I'm sure I've read stuff with White Tiger in it, I didn't remember much about him beyond that he existed, so it didn't help that his story kept referencing things in his past that I wasn't familiar with. This issue read more like a generic superhero story that was completely different from the previous issues. It just felt out of place with the rest of the book.
Despite the last issue, World of Wakanda was excellent. It gave a closer look at some of the most fascinating characters from the Black Panther series and made me want more of them.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed by this one. Not because of any expectations I had going into it since I hadn't heard anything or even read the synopsis when I started. My disappointment had everything to do with the beginning of the book itself. It started with the princess of Pavan and heir to the throne, Aurora, meeting the prince of another kingdom to whom she is betrothed. She and that prince, Cassius, immediately had chemistry and hit it off until Aurora overheard him speaking with his brother about how he was using her. Naturally this led to her hating him, but the two are still betrothed, and Aurora really didn't have a choice since she has been hiding the fact that she did not have the magic powers that run in her family that kept her kingdom safe. To protect her kingdom, Aurora needed a husband with those powers, and Cassius had that.
That setup there was basically perfect for me. It had an arranged marriage romance with a couple with great chemistry that quickly turned to hate on one side due to political scheming by the prince and his toxic family. Meaning it would have been a hate-to-love arranged marriage romance with political intrigue and bad family getting in the way. And I love all those things.
So it really put a damper on my enthusiasm when Aurora chose to run away from all that to go adventuring with a group of storm hunters in the hope of being able to attain magic. And she picked up a new love interest, Locke, in that group who didn't really interest me. Their romance wasn't helped by the fact that he started off thinking she reminded him of his sister. Then he kept getting overprotective and possessive of her. Cassius had been possessive of her too, but he was also presented as bad since he was actively plotting against her and her kingdom whereas Locke was presented as good. Aurora resisted that behavior from Cassius more once she realized she was being used, but her resistance against being treated that way by Locke often was overridden by Locke himself. But I will admit part of my dislike for Locke probably stems from my disappointment of the far more interesting plot getting thrown away for adventuring and romance with him.
The other members of the storm hunter group were intriguing, and I really wish they would have gotten some more focus (and less on Locke). Things got more interesting when Aurora was interacting with them instead.
Unfortunately, the most interesting characters of the book were not the ones in the storm hunter plot which was the main plot line. There were breaks when we saw what characters in other areas were up to and they had the far more intriguing plots. Cassius and his family took over Pavan once Aurora ran away (or was kidnapped as she led everyone to believe), and they've got some big secret that were slowly revealed over the course of the story that really made me wish the book had been what I'd initially thought it would be.
Also in Pavan, Aurora's only friend, Nova, was imprisoned as a suspected conspirator in Aurora's kidnapping. There was not enough of her in the book. I very much liked her.
And there were a few glimpses of a mysterious man with strong storm magic travelling across the land and wreaking destruction. I am curious to see more of him as well.
Roar had a lot of great elements to it. It just chose to go with a story I found less interesting than the one that the beginning set up. But that's more a matter of personal preference than the story itself being bad. There was plenty to like, and I'll probably read the next book when it comes out. I just won't be expecting a story I'm not likely to get.