Cover Image: Like Thunder

Like Thunder

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No matter whether now, 30 years in the future with Brooks or 50 years in the future with Dikéogu, there’s something appropriate about facing a rapidly transforming world as a young man with special resources. A sense of invincibility, increasing autonomy, dangers of isolation, incipient mental coherence, relational insecurity — these are the developmental hallmarks of late teenage boys but also of a world facing a series of existential threats without supervising superpowers.

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Another series wrapped this week. The Desert Magician's Duology by Nnedi Okorafor concluded with "Like Thunder" (and plenty of lightning).

Dikéogu Obidimpka had a real good reason to smite some folks with lightning. And dismantling and industry and exploited and killed children. He has realized the job of saving the world never really ends. After leaving to learn more about his powers his path diverged to a town in which he found love and lost his mind. As his estranged parents continue to spout hate and cohorts turn people against the changed what's a person (who can bring the sky down if the mood strikes them) to do?

Reasons to read:
-They really go through it in this one, but they find reasons not to just smite everyone
-Creatures and technology that works in it's own way
-Great wrap up
-Another finished series? Yes please

Cons:
-Any of those green bombs floating around?

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Much of the political intrigue in “Shadow Speaker” sets the stage and intensifies in "Like Thunder." Beloved characters witness unspeakable acts and must fight for their own existence in a world rife with growing bigotry toward people with their talents.

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I had to DNF this one. The first book was rife with fatphobic comments from the main characters and had some elements that came across as transphobic.

This was unfortunately no different, with some added homophobia from the MCs. No thank you.

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This follow up to the revised "Shadow Speaker" in the "Desert Magician's Duology" picks up some years later, and follows Dikéogu Obidimkpa, who fears he is losing his mind. Dikéogu can call the rain as he is a storm bringer, but things haven't been working all that well for him for a while, as his ability to control his gift/superpower is not in control.

Dikéogu has been on his own for some time, and is happy when he reunites with Ejii Ubaid, his best friend and shadow speaker. But she needs help too, and the problems the pair thought they had resolved years earlier really aren't. So, the two, along with Arif, get ready to fight for their world again.

There is much to like in this book: Dikéogu is a fantastic character, and his struggles following the last war, in the first section of the book, are hard reading, as this young man, for all his wonderful qualities, is reviled by his family, and struggles to be treated with respect thanks to the markings on his face which point to his past life as a slave. This section of the story is compelling, and I particularly liked that it's shown as transcipts from his free-flowing thoughts as he tried to live after the first war, even finding some small measure of peace before that, too, is ripped away from him, along with his increasingly scattered mind.

The second half of the book is where the book began to lose me. It concerns his reuniting with Ejii and Arif, and all their new struggles to defeat the evil that they thought they had vanquished before. It's full of action, interesting character moments, including Dikéogu helping Ejii deal with her trauma from the previous war. Unfortunately, I did not feel as engaged during the book's second half, and also was not sure that the romance author Okorafor included between Dikéogu and Ejii worked, as I preferred them as merely best friends.

I loved the mention of Nsibidi scripts in this duology, which indicates some slight connection perhaps between this and the Akata Witch series.

Even though this book did not entirely work for me, I love the future Nigeria conceived of by this author, and continue to be fascinated by its stories that are a mix of identity, magic and technology.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Astra Publishing House for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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I really enjoyed this sequel to Shadow Speaker! This installment was more angry, sadder, and broke my heart more than book one. It is a book that will stay with me.

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Nnedi Okorafor is one of my auto buy and auto read authors. When I saw this new release, I knew I needed to have it. I was immediately interacted with the writing.

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(4/5 stars) After reading the first book in this duology (The Shadow Speaker, my review here), I was looking forward to the sequel. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I was looking forward to the sequel to see how much Okorafor's writing has evolved since the writing of the first book (2007). I was NOT let down. The second book in this series, following Rainmaker Dikéogu Obidimkpa was rawer and more emotional, but just as beautifully written as the first book in the duology. Like Thunder brings Shadow Speaker full circle in a compelling (and at times heart-wrenching) way.

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After the amazing first book "Shadow Speaker" (minus the fatshaming and hat at the end) I was looking forward to the second installment in this duology.

From the start on I struggled, because (and that is my own fault) I wasn't aware that this book is not anymore from the view of Ejii but from her friend Dékuoge. In the first book he was okay for my but I liked the character arc of Ejii a lot more. And somehow I couldn't start liking Deku more after being in his perspective. A big part of this is the rather stormy way of storytelling. Even if this is fitting for Dekus powers I felt disconnected from the stations of his journey.

I also didn't feel to happy that his girlfriend has to die so he can finally move on to Ejii and the war that is brewing. As Deku met Ejiis old friend it was nice to see how they start connecting with each other.

But … I couldn't finish this book. I got to around 60 % and had to dnf it. There was the repetition of the fat hate from book 1. But also how Deku and Arif are making fun of Jollof and her queerness was unbearable for me.

I think there is so much in this story. The attempt on genocide is a powerful motive and gives this story another dimension especially as the Hamas attempt of jewish genocide escalated into a war between Israel and the Hamas. But if the roots of the story are based on hate on the aspects that define myself (being fat and queer) it is not possible for me to continue reading the story as I already struggled with Dekus voice of narrative.

Nethertheless I am very thankful to got the chance of reading this book, so thank you very much!

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This story has a different tone than Shadow Speaker, but this makes it even more interesting. We are learning Dikeogu's story and seeing him find his way in this new and dangerous times.

Okorafor definitely writes younger characters that reach for her readers and draw them into their world, which is what keeps me coming back to her works.

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Like Thunder is the second half of the Desert Magician’s Duology, and the follow-up to the utterly excellent Shadow Speaker. Like that first book, Like Thunder is a story within a story, as the whole duology is a tale of a possible future, and a lesson to be learned, told by the Desert Magician himself.

But it is not the Desert Magician’s story, no matter how much that being meddled with the characters and the events that they faced. Just as Shadow Speaker was the story of Eiji Ugabe, the titular shadow speaker herself, Like Thunder represents her best friend Dikéogu Obidimkpa’s side of the events that followed.

Shadow speaking is but one of the many transformations and strange, new powers brought into this world after the ‘peace bombs’ were dropped and the oncoming nuclear catastrophe was transformed into something survivable for the human population.

A survival that seems to be more contingent on the adaptability of not just the humans of Earth, but also the sentient populations of ALL the worlds that have become interconnected after Earth’s ‘Great Change’ caused a ‘Great Merge’ of several formerly separated worlds.

The story in Shadow Speaker very much represented Eiji’s perspective on the world, as Eiji’s first impulse is always to talk, and to listen. An impulse that combines her youthful belief that people CAN be better if given the opportunity, and is likely a result of her talent for speaking with not just the shadows of the dead, but directly into the minds of other people and animals.

Her talent is to see others’ points of view and to project her own. She’s young enough to believe that if there is understanding, there can be peace.

Like Thunder is not Eiji’s story, and it shouldn’t be. Instead, it’s a kind of mirror image. Just as Eiji’s talent leads her to foster peace and understanding, her friend Dikéogu’s talent is violent. Dikéogu is a stormbringer, someone who brings all of the violence of nature and all of the violence visited upon him in his scarred past to every encounter with his friends, with his enemies, and with his world.

And within himself.

The world through which we follow Dikéogu in this concluding volume of the Desert Magician’s Duology is the direct result of Eiji’s peacemaking in her book. Because, unfortunately for the world but fortunate for the reader enthralled with their story, Eiji didn’t really make peace because peace is not what most of the people present for the so-called ‘peace conference’ had any desire for whatsoever.

And have been maneuvering in the background to ensure that the only peace that results in the end is the peace of the grave. Someone is going to have to die. Too many people already have. It’s only a question of whether Dikéogu and Eiji’s feared and reviled powers will save the world – or end it.

Escape Rating A-: As much as I loved Shadow Speaker, I came into this second book with some doubts and quibbles – all of which were marvelously dashed to the ground at the very beginning of Dikéogu’s story.

Eiji and Dikéogu were both very young when their adventure began, but by the time they met they had both already seen enough hardship and disaster to fill a whole lifetime for someone else. But Eiji was just a touch older than Dikéogu, and the differences between her fourteen and his thirteen mattered a lot in terms of maturity.

In other words, Eiji was definitely on the cusp of adulthood in her book, making adult decisions with huge, literally world-shaking consequences, while Dikéogu frequently came off as a whiny little shit, an impression not helped AT ALL by the higher pitched voice used by the narrator for his character.

Dikéogu had PLENTY of reasons for his hatreds and his fears – but that doesn’t mean that they were much more enjoyable to listen to than they were to experience. Less traumatic, certainly, but awful in an entirely different way.

But Like Thunder takes place AFTER the events of Shadow Speaker. (This is also a hint that neither book stands on its own) Whiny thirteen becomes traumatized fifteen with more experience, a bit more closure for some of the worst parts, a bit more distance from terrible betrayals – and his voice drops. (This last bit, of course, doesn’t matter if you’re reading the text and hearing your own voice in your head, but matters a lot in audio.)

Dikéogu’s life experience, particularly after he was sold into slavery by his own uncle at the age of twelve, have taught him that the world is pain and strife and that he has to defend himself at all times and that people will believe ANYTHING if it allows them to stay comfortable and maintain their illusions and their prejudices.

He learned that last bit from his parents, Felecia and Chika Obidimkpa, the power couple of THE West African multimedia empire. They betrayed him into slavery, they betrayed him by pretending he was dead, they betray him every single time they broadcast a program filled with ridiculous nostalgia for a past that never was and disallows and disavows Dikéogu’s existence as a stormbringer, a ‘Changed One’ with powers granted by the ‘Great Change’ they hate so much.

It’s no surprise that his parents are in league with his enemies.

What is a surprise, especially to Dikéogu, is how much of his story, how much of his trauma and how many of his tragedies, are directly traceable to that first betrayal AND his inability to deal with its consequences to himself and the magic he carries.

So, very much on the one hand, Like Thunder is a save the world quest with a surprising twist at its end. A twist at least partly manufactured, and certainly cackled over, by the Desert Magician. And absolutely on the other hand, it’s a story about a young man learning to live with the person he has become – and very nearly failing the test. ALL the tests.

Whichever way you look at it, it is compelling and captivating from the first page – or from the opening words – until the very last line of the Desert Magician congratulating themself on a tale well told and a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful message delivered.

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Like Thunder (The Desert Magician's Duology #2)
by Nnedi Okorafor
The second book in an African Science fiction story. The book shows the nature of understanding, acceptance and divergence that causes and heals conflicts. The passing on of leadership, and heroic processes from elders to youth. This book shows that heroes although helped by the past have to make their own decision, to live or die. Your only choice is what you are willing to die for. Its an amazingly self analyzing book, looking at your own prejudices and ideology over and over again as the characters face a very dynamic, swiftly changing world that has conflict with ideology.

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I think I would read anything this author writes - she is just fantastic. I never expected to like her books, but I kept seeing her on lists and finally gave in and read Binti and then just kept reading and here we are.

This second book in the duology was just as good as the first one [you MUST read that book first, or all that happens in this book will be tremendously confusing], though much, much different. Still set on Earth [in the not-so-distant future], it is several years after the end of the first book and many things have changed from that time. This time it is the story of Dikéogu Obidimkpa [a Rainmaker], who was a companion to Ejii [who is a Shadow Speaker] in the previous book and has been on his own since they parted at the end of book one, and well, things are REALLY not going well for him [he is, he believes, losing his mind] and so he goes looking for Ejii to see what she can do and if they can continue the mission they thought they'd accomplished already all while finding more of his powers and all he can do and be all while fighting a world that thinks people like himself and Ejii do not belong.

This book is MUCH angrier, sadder and much more heartbreaking than book one. Be prepared to ugly cry. Be prepared to be supremely angry. And be prepared to have a very hard time putting this down [much like book one, I had to force myself at night to stop and go to bed] because once you get started, it is very, very difficult to walk away.

SO. WELL. DONE.

Thank you to NetGalley, Nnedi Okorafor, and Astra Publishing House/DAW for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

**I cannot say enough about the narrator of this book [Délé Ogundiran] as well. She is just fantastic and I would listen to her narrate just about anything, and in the case of these two books, she really brings them to life and I highly recommend listening to them because of this. She is absolutely one of my all-time favorites. **

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Like Thunder is the sequel to Shadow Speaker in which I saw great things but it did not manage to grab me. I struggled with the same things in this book. I can see what Okorafor wants to do but the book never grabs me.

In this book we follow Dikéogu, the boy that Ejii meets during her travel in the previous book. This book is set up in two different sections. The first half is all about what happened with Dikéogu after the ending of Shadow Speaker. What was his path so the speak. Initially filled with rage for slavery and those that wronged him, the aftermath of that brings him in a town where he meets a girl who manages to settle him. I think he managed to feel a sliver of happiness there.

The second half of the book is more of a continuation of the plot from the first book. The covenant breaks and something comes to our side of the portal, sucking people dry of their soul. Dikéogu searches out his old friends to figure out how to stop this.

Again, what I struggled here the most with were the characters and some of the writing. I managed to settle into the first half and found a new appreciation of Dikéogu. But I hate that he found something for himself and that had to be axed for the plot and for him to be able to get together with Ejii at the end of the book. Which was one relationshp that was incredibly forced. There was more interesing tension between Dikéogu and Arif on the page than there ever was between Dikéogu and Ejii.

Sometimes I felt that I was skimming the surface of a story, being dragged along with all these events. But never finding myself immersed in it.

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Like Thunder was a perfect follow up to The Shadow Speaker. While I still had some issues with the fatphobia in the characterization of the antagonist, it was a solid read.

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We open on Dikéogu directly after his time in Ginen. He travels with Jaa’s husbands and a few official agents as they find the various farms where children have been made into slaves – including the chocolate plantation where he had been just a year earlier. After busting up a few such places, and freeing a lot of kids, Dikéogu splits off from the main group to get some additional rainmaker training from Gambo.

Eventually, he feels too restrained, and decides to go after his parents. A short time after striking out on his own, he finds himself in a city. He initially only plans on staying as long as it takes to fix his electronic device… but then, he falls in love with the girl who fixes it for him.

After many months, a group of vampire-like beings called The Adze strike the city, killing Changed Ones and educated women… including his girlfriend. He leaves in a fury, and travels alone for a while. He doesn’t remember most of what happens during this time, and later refers to it as his “lost year.”

By the time he comes to, the peace treaty that he, Ejii, Jaa, and their entourage had negotiated with Ginen has ended. No one has seen Jaa, Gambo, or Buji. No one expects good things to come next.

At this point, Dikéogu meets back up with Ejii in her hometown. We also re-meet Arif, one of her friends from home. They are both Shadow Speakers, but they use their talents differently. They also meet another Changed One named Lifted, and a runaway queen from Ginen named Jollof. Together, they travel and try to stop Chief Ette (of Ginen) and The Adze (who are working for him) from destroying Earth.

I won’t go into too much detail past that point, as there is a lot of action and some death involved.

If you like Nnedi Okorafor’s other writings, or Africanfuturism in general, this one should be up your alley.

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As a afro-futurism girlie, I'm mad that we were not given this series years ago. Even with this being her first books, this series is still before it's time. I don't want to leave this world.

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Thank you to Astra Publishing House and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

"Like Thunder" by Nnedi Okorafor, the concluding installment of the Desert Magician duology, is an immersive journey through hardships, heartaches, and the unwavering spirit of Dikeogu. As he navigates his own challenges after the events of book one and before reuniting with Ejii, his narrative unfolds with vivid imagery, perilous quests, and Okorafor's signature infusion of West African mythology.

The story captivates with its rich exploration of Dikeogu's character, highlighting the complexities of his personal struggles and growth. The emotional depth and resilience exhibited by the characters make the journey not just an epic quest but a profound exploration of identity and destiny.

Okorafor's storytelling prowess shines through in her ability to seamlessly blend the mystical and the earthly, creating a world where West African mythology breathes life into this post-apocalyptic setting. While the final battle against a tyrant threatening Earth was pretty anti-climatic as far as conclusions go, the emotionally charged journey to get there was very engrossing.

"Like Thunder" offers readers a unique blend of fantasy, mythology, and poignant human experiences. The Desert Magician duology, with its vibrant characters and captivating storyline, is a fitting addition to Okorafor's impressive body of work.

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First I want to thank NetGalley and DAW for allowing me access to an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Like Thunder is the second book in the Desert Magician Duology. If you haven’t read the first book, Shadow Speaker, then please go do that before reading any further. I don’t want to spoil too much of the first book, but it is important to note that this Duology changes perspective in the second novel. The first book is from the perspective of the shadow speaker Ejii and this, the second book, is from the perspective of Dikéogu a companion of Ejii in the First book.

The Desert Magician duology takes place in a changed future Earth that has been broken, and the barriers between our world and others has thinned enough to allow passage between them. The majority of the events take place in Niger and Nigeria a generation after the Earth and its people were changed. Some people were changed more than others, and they are referred to as Changed Ones. Changed Ones come in a variety of types each with their own special abilities. Dikéogu, our subject for this book, is growing into his power as a rainmaker, and after the events of the first book he has joined up with Gambo, a powerful windseeker, to train his abilities. Part of that training includes facing Dikéogu’s past and the hurt he still carries with him.

I am a huge fan of Nnedi Okorafor, and if you’ve read any of her other books, you will definitely find some commonalities between this duology and other books she has written. I really enjoyed this series as a whole, but I think I much preferred Ejii’s story over Dikéogu’s. This being the second in a duology it is absolutely necessary to finish the story, and my only real detractor is that I don’t particularly like Dikéogu. He is quite often rash and selfish, but he is also young and has a great burden placed on his shoulders, so I try not to judge him too harshly. This second story also digs even deeper into the themes of division and how we grant or withhold personhood to other people. This is a fundamental topic in science fiction and no matter the era it continues to be relevant.

I really enjoyed both of these books, and the series is a must-read for any serious sci-fi fan. If you haven’t read anything by Okorafor before, I suggest reading Remote Control as well and of course Binti. Okorafor is a master of storytelling and crafts beautiful tales of Africanfuturism that will keep you looking for more like it. I hope you read this series, and I hope this helped you find a new book to dive into. Happy Reading!

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In Shadow Speaker we followed Ejii Ugabe's hero journey to find the killer of her father as she learned to use her strange powers. She is known as a shadow speaker, one who can see well in the dark and read people's thoughts and emotions. Along the way she met the rainmaker Dikéogu Obidimkpa. He'd been imprisoned as a chocolate slave due to his parents shame of his manifesting strange powers. Like Thunder concludes the quest of these two changed people in a dystopian 2070s West Africa.

Picking up shortly after the end of the first book, in Like Thunder Dikéogu Obidimkpa is our narrator and with the aid of government agents, is freeing the other chocolate slaves. After the initial quest to free the slaves is completed, he begins to train under a mentor before suffering a mental breakdown and wandering in a fugue state. This time is lost to him, but as he heals and recovers some of the pieces return. Eventually he comes back to himself and finds love, but while he enjoys this return to normalcy, greater powers are at play. In the city, the changed are other-ized by being called cockroaches and begin to disappear alongside those speaking for understanding and acceptance. Is it genocide?

It is a darker story than the first volume, with much of the happiness of the first adventure undone. Our heroes face greater challenges and both endure trauma and loss. But they are older and wiser and still deeply committed to creating and sustaining peace. Both books look at the divisions between youths and elders. As well as the courage and strength it takes to stand up for one's beliefs.

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