THE FINAL STRIFE de Saara El-Arifi

An African-inspired debut epic-fantasy novel following Sylah, a young woman who was raised as a weapon to destroy an Empire, but is now a drug-addicted drifter… until a chance meeting with a man she thought dead reinvigorates her purpose. First volume in a planned trilogy.

by Saara El-Arifi
Del Rey, 2022

The Empire is cruelly divided: red-blooded Embers can work magic with their blood, Dusters are blue-blooded and downtrodden, and pale-blooded Ghostings are mutilated at birth to punish them for their failed rebellion four hundred years earlier. But not everyone accepts the status quo. Stolen from her noble crib as a child, Sylah was one of ‘the Sandstorm’: twelve Ember children raised by rebels to one day bring down the empire – until a massacre left her the lone survivor. Years later she spends her days numb from addiction, fighting (and winning) in the ring to fund her habit. But when her long-lost stepbrother returns, determined to fulfil the purpose they were trained for, Sylah is caught between her blood, and her loyalties. Forced to confront everything she has run from, and the truth of her past, can Sylah achieve the destiny she was trained for?

Saara El-Arifi‘s heritage has always been intrinsically linked to the themes of her stories. She was raised by a Ghanaian/British mother and a Sudanese/Arab father—who were both brought up Christian and Muslim respectively. When she was reaching her formative years her family moved from the Middle East to a village outside of Sheffield, Yorkshire, where she learned what it was to be Black in a white world. Saara initially specialised in theatre directing, achieving a 1st BA Hons in Theatre Studies from Kent University, a Diploma in Directing from RADA and a badge for acting from Brownies. Her creative writing and specialism in theatre led her to the big screen, where she worked in film marketing and communications for nearly a decade.

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