Author: Stephen Whitfield
Narrator: Curt Simmons
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In a squalid ancient city on the edge of a desert (based in part on the African Sahara’s Empty Quarter) a weary, thrill-seeking thief named Omari sets his home afire to start anew and to cover his many crimes. When the entire city is unintentionally destroyed by the flames, the cornered thief tells the displaced people a lie about a better place which only he can lead them to, across the desert. With the help of an aged, mysterious woman who knows a better place actually does exist, they set out. The desperate people must come together to fight their way through bandits, storms, epidemics, and more. As a result of Omari’s involvement with Saba, a fiercely independent woman who is out to break him in the pay of a merchant whom he has offended, his ability to lead – his very life – is jeopardized.
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Note: I received this book from Jess at Audiobook Promotions in exchange for an honest review as a part of this tour. The tour is being sponsored by Stephen Whitfield and Curt Simmons. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Although not a story I would usually reach for, Omari and the People was a solid read.
First of all, the narration in this book was fantastic. Curt’s slight accent kept me captivated and coming back for more. With a relatively slow plot and overall story arc, that was important for me. It also serves to further highlight that this was not, indeed, a european setting. I’m not great with accents, but I believe his was possibly arabic.
Omari and the People is largely character driven, rather than plot heavy. The characters, while slightly hard to keep track of due to similar sounding names on audio, were interesting and developed throughout the story. Umal, an older lady, was my favourite character as she was the most intriguing – shrouded in mystery, constantly surprising everyone, incredibly wise, and perhaps even possessing paranormal abilities, Umal was always one to look forward to. Sofia, mother of two young sons, and Umbaric, former captain of the city guard, were also quite interesting.
On a quick side note, shout out to Dab of Darkness for including character names in her review, for otherwise I would have no idea what any of them were (save Omari and perhaps Saba).
The setting, according to Stephen, is loosely based off Africa, but to me – perhaps because of the accent Curt assumes – it appears to be more Middle Eastern, the characters Arabic. However, due to the nature of the descriptions, the desert could really be anywhere. The whole “exodus across the desert” is reminiscent of the story of Moses, but there are no real religious mentions – with the exception of a few characters having possibly supernatural gifts. So, again, the story is one that encourages readers to build the overall world and time for themselves.
A character-driven exodus of a people lead by hope and just looking to survive, this story does have some elements of romance but it is more a side element than anything. I recommend giving Omari and the People a read (or listen, as I would suggest) if you’re looking for something slightly different but enjoyable none the less.