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Since her birth, Tarisai has only known Bhekina House, a small dwelling unseen to those but her tutors and her mother. While she knows her tutors well, she knows very little about her mother, known only as The Lady. She rarely sees her mother and even more rarely gets to be held by her. This lack of connection makes Tarisai yearn for a family, for people who aren't afraid of her and love her freely.

Luckily for her, she may just have a chance to get exactly that when she's ferreted off to the capital. There, she joins other children around her age in a test to eventually become apart of Prince Enkudayo's Council of Eleven. Only those who love the Prince and are able to connect to his Ray can be accepted into his Council. Unluckily, The Lady has ordered her to kill the Prince as soon as she's accepted into the council. Will she be able to get the family she's longed for or will she end up destroying it?

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Raybearer is a YA fantasy novel by Jordan Ifueko. It was released in 2020 with a sequel, Redemptor, set to come out in August of 2021.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • The Lady used to leave Tar alone for months and kept her locked up in Bhekina house with no one but her tutors for company. She also used her wish to brainwash Tar into being a sleeper-agent to kill the crown prince. When Tar meets her again as a teenager, imprisoned by the emperor, The Lady guilt-trips her for trying to resist the wish and gaslights her about all the abuse she's suffered, showing not even a lick of remorse for her neglectful and narcissistic parenting.
    • Sanjeet's father used to send him to the fighting pits to earn money and would regularly beat on him and his mother. He also send Sanjeet's brother Sendhil away with a band of mercenaries because he believed Sendhil was too soft.
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    • The emperors could be counted as this. Any child of an emperor that doesn't have the Ray (or is female) is abandoned at birth and forgotten. Raybearers are never allowed to know who their mothers are and judging by how little Olugbade and Ekundayo interact in the book, do not get to form a real bond with their fathers either.
  • Achilles' Heel: Raybearers can eventually attain immunity to all types of death save old age by anointing members of their Council - and these anointed ones subsequently become the only people who could potentially kill them. (A highly unlikely occurrence, given that the Ray will only work on those who have formed a truly loving bond with the Raybearer, but still a weakness which the Lady attempts to exploit.)
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • "Dayo" for Ekundayo.
    • "Jeet" for Sanjeet.
    • "Tar" or "Sunshine Girl" for Tarisai. The latter is used exclusively by Sanjeet.
  • Asexual: During their "date" underneath Enitawa's Quiver, Dayo confesses to Tar that while he's had crushes on men and women before, the idea of actually having sex makes him severely uncomfortable.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tarisai and her friends have successfully uncovered the imbalance in the treaty with the abiku towards Songland and have stopped the treaty from unfairly dooming another generation of Songland-children. Tar has also proven the existence and legitimacy of female Raybearers, meaning the empire will be ruled by both emperors and empresses in the future like it was meant to be. However, Tarisai had to become a Redemptor in order to save the Songland children and the children of Aritsar and now she must anoint a council for herself in the timespan of two years, a near impossible task. Not only that, in order for her Raybearer-blood to be potent enough for the new treaty, the Anointed Ones must be the rulers of the twelve realms of Aritsar. Save to say, Tar will have her hands full in Redemptor.
  • Child by Rape: Tarisai. Melu certainly didn't want to sleep with The Lady, but was forced to, due to still owing her a wish.
  • The Chosen One: The Kunleo-bloodline as a whole. Children have a chance of being born with a power called the Ray, which lets them link their minds to eleven people they've formed an intimate connection with. Said connection will provide them with an immunity against one way to die. Later in the book, it's revealed that every generation is supposed to have not two, but four Raybearers: an empress, an emperor, a prince and a princess.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: Redemptor children are born with markings on their bodies that form a map of the underworld they will be sent to. These marks are permanent and won't fade for as long as the child lives, even if they managed to escape from the underworld.
  • The Cutie: Dayo. He's a kind, empathetic soul with not a bad bone in his body. It's no wonder his Council is completely smitten with him.
  • Deal with the Devil: The Redemptor-treaty between Aritsar and the Abiku, a race of malevolent demons. It dictates that every child born with the markings of a Redemptor is to be sent into the underworld before their eleventh birthday. In turn, the Abiku will withhold from declaring war, ensuring that Aritsar can live in peace.
  • Declaration of Protection: Tar made one to Dayo when they were children. She remembers this event right as her ehru-brainwashing forces her to near-fatally stab him.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: At one point in the book Tar watches Sanjeet spar topless and is obviously pleased by what she's seeing.
  • Fake Memories: Tar is able to give people pleasant dreams, based on their desires and memories.
  • Family of Choice: The Council of Eleven serves as type of close family to that of the Raybearer.
  • Fighting from the Inside: When The Lady reactivates the wish, Tar's body goes on complete auto-pilot and lures Dayo away to a remote location to kill him, all while the small part of Tar that is still aware is mentally screaming at him to run. While she cannot stop herself from injuring Dayo, her will is strong enough to make the injury heavy but non-fatal.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are a lot of hints scattered throughout the story that Tar is a Raybearer.
      • Tar is frequently associated with the sun and the warmth of sunlight, down to Sanjeet's Affectionate Nickname for her being "Sunshine Girl".
      • Tar is immune to fire. She at first suspects this to be because of her being half-ehru. In reality, it's the immunity in her Ray she was born with.
      • Both Tar and Dayo have an almost immediate connection to each other, feeling that they are incomplete on their own. It's the subconscious instinct of two Raybearers, knowing they ought to rule together.
      • Despite not having been anointed at the time, Tar is able to hear Dayo's call for help over the Ray during the Children's Palace-fire. Because she has it too.
    • Tar mentions that Dayo frequently interferes whenever she tries to speak with Mbali, the former Swana-representative and does his best to prevent the two of them from meeting. This is later revealed to be Dayo's slightly misguided attempt to help Tar fight the wish, by keeping everything that could remind her of Swana and thus The Lady away from her.
  • Forgiveness: An overarching theme of the story. Tarisai, despite all that The Lady has done to her, manages to let go of her bitterness toward her mother for the most part and forgives her for the years of abuse at the end. Contrasting this is The Lady's unwillingness to forgive Olugbade and his council, going so far as to try and murder his son via her half-ehru daughter.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Lady was born a Kunleo and was allowed to live in the Children's Palace, after her older brother Olugbade grew fond of her. However, he came to resent her when she demonstrated greater political talent than he and became more and more popular among his candidates. The nail in the coffin came when the Lady, innocently believing that proving herself powerful would mend their relationship, revealed to him that she, too, had the Ray. Olugbade accused her of being a fake and using dark magic, then evicted her and the candidates she had anointed from the Children's Palace. The Lady and her Anointed Ones were forced to live on the streets for years. The Lady swore revenge on Olugbade and his council and made plans to overthrow him and become empress.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Despite her rather tragic past described above, the book never once pretends The Lady's abuse of Tarisai is in any way justified. Tar herself ultimately rejects the notion that her changing the empire for the better was her stepping in her mother's footsteps and while she does forgives her mother, she also makes it clear that the way The Lady treated her wasn't right.
  • God-Emperor: The emperors of Aritsar are treated as this. Their Ray is said to be a gift from Warlord Fire himself and represents their divine right to rule.
  • Half-Breed Angst: Tar agonizes a lot over her non-human heritage, not helped by most of her tutors being unwilling to touch her in her childhood because of it and Woo In and Kathleen routinely treating her more as The Lady's pet than her own person. She often refers to herself as a demon or a monster and it only worsens after the wish almost makes her kill Dayo.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Tarisai is half ehru and half human. Her ehru side is what allows her mother to control her through a wish she made to her ehru-father Melu.
  • Human Mom, Non-Human Dad: In order to ensure her child would have a Hallow, The Lady forced an ehru to bed her. Understandably, there is no love lost between mother and father.
  • It's All About Me: The Lady sees Tarisai mainly as an extension of herself rather than her own person; she almost never calls her by her name (given by her ehru father), referring to her instead as "Made-of-Me," and talks about the wrongs done to her by the emperor as though they had been done directly to Tar as well. It's also later revealed that she lied to Woo In about intending to fix the loophole that has all Redemptor children born in Songland, simply because she knew the other kingdoms would balk at this and thus impede her chances of them accepting her as Empress.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Invoked deliberately by Tarisai on herself. After Dayo chooses to make her one of his Anointed, she uses her Hallow to erase all memories of her past, even The Lady, which temporarily frees her from the wish's control.
  • Love Triangle: Seems to be set up with Dayo, Tar and Sanjeet. Tar has obvious feeling for the latter, while a lot of people also suspect she is interested in the former. Ultimately subverted, as neither Tar nor Dayo like each other that way. All the better, since Tar and Dayo are later on revealed to be cousins.
  • Magic Music: Kirah's Hallow is the ability to heal others through song.
  • Manchurian Agent: Tar is meant to be this to her mother The Lady. In her childhood, The Lady showed her a picture of Dayo and wished for her to kill him once he anointed her, to which Tar was forced to comply due to her ehru-heritage. When she sees his face for the first time, she is immediately overcome by murderous rage and only held back by the clause in the wish that said she had to be anointed to kill him. When The Lady gets Tar back under her control years later, this trigger returns with a vengeance and Tar has to fight tooth and nail to not strangle Dayo whenever she so much as glimpses his face.
  • Meaningful Name: Invoked in-story. Tarisai's name means "Behold what is coming". Fitting, since Tar's arrival brings some pretty major changes to the empire in the end.
  • Mind Manipulation: Tarisai's Hallow is a form of this. Whenever she touches somebody or something she can see their memories and experience them as if they were her own. This works better on living beings, as they're better at storing memories.
  • The Nameless: The Lady doesn't seem to have an actual name apart from her title. Even in the empire's official records about her, she is only called "Lady X". This is most likely because of her being a female Kunleo, who spent part of her life in the Children's Palace. She has no name because she was never given one.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Every Raybearer is born with an immunity to one type of death, and gain a new immunity for each person they anoint. Once they have a full Council of eleven, they are effectively this and can only ever die of old age (or being killed by one of their anointed).
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Lady presents herself as a viable alternative to Olgubade, especially through her promise of finding a way to save Songland's children from the Redemptor-curse. In truth, she is just as selfish and tyrannical as he is. She doesn't even intend to keep her promise towards Woo-In and Songland, as that would mean offering up the children of Aritsar instead, a course of action that would most certainly turn the rulers of Aritsar against her.
  • Parental Neglect: The Lady would leave Tarisai for months at a time, leaving her in the care of her tutors.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Close to the end of the story, Dayo reveals that he's known about Tar being a Manchurian Agent since their childhood. When they slept next to each other, she once accidentally put her hand on his forehead and shared her childhood memories with him, including The Lady's wish. Despite this, he believed she was more than what The Lady wanted her to be and dedicated himself to help her break out of the wish.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Woo-In is extremely loyal to the Lady and at one point sets the Children's Palace on fire under her orders to kill Dayo. However, the reason he does this is because the Lady promised him to liberate Songland from bearing the brunt of the Redemptor-curse every century. The second he realizes The Lady was using him for his connection to Songland as its former prince and never intended to lift the curse, he turns on her and joins Tar and her friends.

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