Cover Image: The Battle Drum

The Battle Drum

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Member Reviews

You know when you read a book and you absolutely love it, but then after enough time has passed, you start to wonder "was it really that good?" only to pick up the sequel and go "oh, yes, yes it was that good."

The Battle Drum was that book for me. I loved the final strife so much, and was scared that maybe I built this world up a little too much in my mind. On the contrary, this was even better than I remembered/expected and Saara El-Arifi is officially an autobuy author for me. 

Read this series for:
- Complex moral discussions around class, race, and more
- Sapphic yearning (LOTS of yearning)
- A queernormative world
- Fantastic plot twists
- Past-paced plot
- and more!
-----5/5 stars!

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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It was nice to get back into where we left off with these characters. I really enjoyed The Final Strife, it was a wonderful debut and beginning to a trilogy that I know would be meaty and substantial. The Battle Drum was definitely meaty in the way that there were a lot of things happening. I feel like part of The Final Strife that made the book so great was the character work, and there were full character arcs that evolved. I can't really say that the characters went anywhere else in this book. Nothing wrong with plot heavy books twos because thats usually what has to happen in order to get to the third book, but I did really want a little more character work for all parties. Thats a me thing, and thats ok. The audio book was great to listen to, and I am looking forward to book three in this series. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey for an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Review posted to TT:

I really think this one was me. I know I'm not a huge fan of sequels, and for 40% of this book I was having a good time. But the end half felt so random and unconnected, I was missing my characters being together and solving things, and the whole setting changed. I'm really hoping this is just middle book slump and book three will be so amazing, becuase I did truly love book one in this series. 

Thanks to Del Rey for a copy of this arc in exchange for an honest review!
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A bit too slow paced for my liking so I ended up DNFing. Hoping to return to this when I have a bit more focus.
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This was an amazing sequel that truly built on the first book. The character development for all the characters was so good and the plot lines were so intriguing.
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The Battle Drum by Saara El-Arifi has one of the best endings to a book 2 I’ve read in a long time. There are new POVs and while at times I wasn’t sure of that story line, the way everything pieces together makes it more than worth it. I adore Anoor and her character growth. And Hassa continues to be my fav. If you feel the story is lulling, stick with it! The ending is worth it.
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This book was a great continuation to the trilogy.  
It has world building. It's action packed and unpredictable 
Highly enjoyed this read.

Be sure to read Book 1 to fully grasp storyline.
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I raved about Saara El-Arifi's first novel, The Final Strife. The Battle Drum is second in the series following Anoor, Sylah, Hassa, and Jond on their individual journeys toward their fates. Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't read the first book yet. If you haven't, stop here and know that book two is also good, go read them both.

At the end of The Final Strife, Sylah leaves her beloved, Anoor, for the Ghosting sanctuary on a mission to get to the fabled mainland and find assistance. Anoor has just won the trials to become warden disciple, the role Sylah was supposed to have won in order to bring revolution to the empire. Hassa, the Ghosting woman, has befriended Anoor as well and stays on in her household as a servant, her untouchable status making her nearly as invisible as her clear blood. Jond is taken prisoner by Sylah, unwillingly dragged along on her quest. So The Battle Drum begins: the core group is separated and face their own destinies, which lead to some thoroughly surprising results and more than one unexpected twists. I always appreciate a book I can't predict, and this fits the bill. 

The Battle Drum does drag in places in the way sequels often do. I put it down to read other things more than once, because some of the journey and intrigues slowed the pace for me. However, the various detailed development of multiple facets in the story that occurs during the first half of the book is important for the characters during the events of the second half, and when they tie together toward the end it's a chef's kiss of brilliance. 

Overall I love El-Arifi's writing style, which brings out all the emotions of the characters as they move through their universe. The unexpected tenderness of a new romance is just as effective here as the occasional brutality is, both graphic and implied, there. As the story progresses we discover hidden secrets and tragic sacrifices right along with the main group, and by the last third of the book I was back to having trouble putting it down. 

The world-building in this novel is fascinating. The way magic works and how it affects daily life is well developed. The way the climate is changing to more deadly events like acid rain, tidewinds of sand that scour bodies to bone in a few hours, torrential flooding rains, and tsunamis all feel uncomfortably familiar to real life, and provide a rich backdrop for how the societies work in the different lands of this universe. The Battle Drum is a bridge of growth and transformation for all the main characters, which sets the stage expertly for book three. I can't wait to read the next installment.
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The battle drum is the sequel to the final strife, three women seek the truth in the empire's past. The truth reveals leads to the power to ignite a war.  Anoor is accused of a murder that she didn't commit. It's up to Anoor to clear her name and fights a political battle without Slyah.  Slyah the warrior is off to fight. The men in this series play secondary. it is rare that the women making the decisions and fighting the battles. At times I felt this sequel is both very YA and Adult Sci-fi fantasy. I'm looking forward to the third book in this series.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow! This was an action packed sequel with so many areas of note. Hassa is still my favorite character and without her there would be no revolution coming for the Ghostings. I love Hassan’s strength and how she sees everything. Sylah and Jond had some crazy adventures in this book and Jond has had his redemption in this book. I really enjoy that Sylah is so jaded and she just goes to work to make things happen and she is a strong character who won’t let anything knock her down again. I am fearful for Anoor’s future as it felt like she was really being manipulated in this book and she has so much potential to be a force of change in this world. This was a great sequel and a new character was introduced who is really going to make some crazy stuff go down in the next book. I cannot wait for the next book in this series! I hope Hassa gets a happy ending because after the ending of this book she really needs it.
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**Thank you, Netgalley and publisher, for giving me an electronic ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

This was a fantastic sequel the final strife! The characters are wonderful and full of life. Even though the pacing was a bit slow compared to the first book, I found myself still sucked into the vibrate story. The revelations about the world and magic system along with the history and lore with other characters had me at the edge of my seat.

If you're wanting to immerse youself in a story I highly recommend this series! I cant wait for book 3!
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I have hand sold this title many times and will always recommend Saara El-Arifi to customers looking for queer/sapphic fantasy. I’m intensely excited for El-Arifi’s next release (Faebound).
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Just like with The Final Strife, it took me forever to get into this one. But once I was in, I was in, and it was hard to put down. (Though I couldn’t tell you how much ACTUALLY happened. . .)

Once again narrated by Sylah, Anoor, and Hassa, here we also meet a fourth woman, Nayeli, and finally get Jond’s perspective. Does five perspectives sound like a lot? It is. It does work, it’s just a lot to juggle, considering our narrators rarely cross one another’s paths. Five narrators also means five different viewpoints on very similar things, and information does get repeated. Nayeli’s perspective opens up the world to crazy extremes, but its extreme detail doesn’t seem necessary until all the puzzle pieces fall into place at the very end of the novel. 

Additionally, not much actually happens considering the not insignificant page count (560 in print form!), but the book is so full juggling all these people that the plot falters slightly. It’s a slow start, with an incredibly big build, definitely setting up for things to come. I have a feeling it will all come together beautifully in the trilogy’s final installment, but The Battle Drum most definitely feels like a second book, connecting dots more so than standing on its own. 

All that being said, it’s worth the patience. Saara El-Arifi is a master at planning things out and I’m highly anticipating the fall out of everything I just read. It’s emotional, and heart wrenching, and beautifully hopeful all at the same time – remarkable in the face of some truly horrendous (and graphic, be warned) plot points. If you enjoyed the first book, I think you’ll feel the same way I do: worth the while, still VERY good, but a bit of a step back as an overall experience. We just have to cross our fingers and hope the pay off is as large as we’re led to believe.

Content warning: human sacrifice, drug withdrawal, colonization, kidnapping, blood, gore, violence, death, murder, torture, trauma, oppression.
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Favorite book of 2023 
Although anor can be mad annoying. Sylah this rough did whatever she could for her again. I found jond less annoying after sylah was sick and in and out of consciousness. 
We learn the world isn’t as small within the first book. Battle drum expands on that and other blood colors. What I wasn’t expecting. The people dying. Omggg. I cried. Anor is trying to save her ass and someone else dies later on. I cried like Baby. I have a feeling 3rd book. Hassa is going to burn everything to the ground. #TeamHassa
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A pretty solid sequel. 

The book does suffer from a long and slow middle, and that affected the overall reading experience. It does manage to pick up eventually, and it ends strongly enough that I am looking forward to book 3.
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This was one of my most anticipated releases for 2023, and it did not disappoint. The Battle Drum is a solid continuation of the story set up in The Final Strife. I loved the new world-building details, and seeing how all our narrative perspectives started to come together towards the end. I did not re-read The Final Strife before picking up this book, and I felt like there was enough re-introduction of significant characters and events from the first book to make sure all readers were on the same page for the events in The Battle Drum. My main critique is that Anoor's character felt a bit too immature, naive, and idealistic for her circumstances- I know she is supposed to have these traits to a point, but in this book it really stood out to me. I do wonder if this was intentional, in order for the ending to have a greater impact, and to set her character up for a more drastic arc in the next book. 
Either way, I'm having a great time with this series and I eagerly look forward for the next installment.
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Thank you to the Publisher for the arc! 

what a fantastic sequel! i fell in love with the final strife when i first read it and couldn't put the sequel down.
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- thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an arc to review! 

- this story was perfect. a sequel to the first book, the final strife, that had its own voice and structure. i cannot wait for the third book.
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Amazing second book with lot of new info and some really heart wrenching scences.  I like the raiin city aspect and teh fact that there are more blood colors then we thought.  The part with the blood plasma was gross and eeery.  Also the two types of blood werks one with the stylus and the ball was uniuqe.  eager for book three.
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No second book slump here! This is an action-packed sequel full of twists. Perfect for fans of political, multi-POV fantasy. 

It was wonderful to come back to this fascinating world where blood is used for magic and comes in many colors that determine your place in the world. Anoor, with her blue blood, isn't supposed to be in power, but is due to many twists of fate. She's doing her best to enact change but that comes to a halt when she's falsely accused of murder and given a short amount of time to clear her name. 

Sylah, Anoor's lover, is sadly far away searching for answers and Hassa is discovering new depths to the empire's evil. A secret cult is gaining power and they might just be on the brink of war.
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