The Shadow King

The Shadow King

by

, literary-fiction, les-arcs-de-triomphes, 2020-booker-longlist, read2020, brilliant-badass-female-characters, modern-lit, booker-longlist, historical-fiction, giveaway-wins, man-booker-nod, ethiopia, women-write, audio, historical-fiction, audiobook, africa, Historical, Fiction, Cultural, Eastern Africa, War, Literary Fiction, Novels, Literature, Audiobook

A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.

With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilize his strongest men before the Italians invade. His initial kindness to Hirut shifts into a flinty cruelty when she resists his advances, and Hirut finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and overwhelming rage. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s technologically advanced army prepares for an easy victory. Hundreds of thousands of Italians—Jewish photographer Ettore among them—march on Ethiopia seeking adventure.

As the war begins in earnest, Hirut, Aster, and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms against the Italians. But how could she have predicted her own personal war as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers, who will force her to pose before Ettore’s camera?

What follows is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

Title:The Shadow King
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780393083569
Format Type:

    The Shadow King Reviews

  • Paromjit

    On the Booker Prize Shortlist!!Maaza Mengiste's blend of poetic and lyrical historical fiction and fact that focuses on little known aspects of the beginnings of WW2 is an extraordinary and gripping l...

  • David

    Well. This is a story that deserves to be told. I learned more about Ethiopian history and culture than I knew before. There is some wonderful - sometimes stunning - descriptive writing. But I would r...

  • Nenia ? I yeet my books back and forth ? Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest DNF @ p. 194This book is set during WWII, under the reign of Mussolini, and it's about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. There are three mai...

  • Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Now shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. “She does not want to remember but she is here and memory is gathering bones” I bought this book as I felt (not least to the back cover blurb by Lemn ...

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I ended this book in tears and I'm not sure I can articulate why. It starts and ends in 1974, with an old woman walking with a box of letters and photographs. The majority of the book is about the sec...

  • Roman Clodia

    This is undoubtedly epic in scope and intention but I sadly found it slow and oddly uninvolving. It takes a long time for the story outlined in the blurb to emerge and I thought there would be more at...

  • Prerna

    Shortlisted for the Booker prize 2020.What he knows is this: there is no past, there is no “what happened,” there is only the moment that unfolds into the next, dragging everything with it, consta...

  • Katia N

    Reading this, I remembered a line long time forgotten, but the line that has helped me to go through a lot when I was younger. I am not even sure where it is taken from. It might be from “King Lear...

  • Hugh

    Deservedly shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020Another impressive contender on what is looking a very strong Booker longlist. Mengiste's story of women fighting in Ethiopia's war against Mussolini wa...

  • Neale

    Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.The backbone of the narrative is the war that was fought between Ethiopia and Italy when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, with Mussolini a fascist and megalomaniac...