The Sword of Power is a story about love and omens. It speaks to the foundation of power and the place of the metaphysical in shaping human narratives and experiences. The protagonist, Prince Yazidu, is a prince of his father’s ruined palace in the Baghdad Kingdom. He, with his men, sought refuge in Bornu from its King, Sarkin Ali Yaji who gave them Mantuha, a land which has “nothing but breed dangerous animals over the years”, to dwell . As a prince, he was also a valiant warrior who was central to Bornu’s territorial peace and stability because of his rout on the Forest people who were sworn enemies and plunderers of the Bornu people. The book equally tells the familiar story of love and its fragile connection with associated variables like betrayal, privilege, heartaches, failed hopes, customs and traditions.
The story opens with a prologue where Mekwashe, driven by gratitude for a past correct foretelling, craves to know what his future holds. And like a hovering, ominous air, the supernatural verdict he sought, which somewhat mirrors the identical fears of Sarkin Ali Yaji’s consistent thought of the Great Oracle’s warning that the saviour would set his eyes on the throne, his throne, drives the hub of the plot of the story to its conclusion, perhaps, its transient conclusion. The story also ends with another portentous warning from the Magadja who is considered the mouthpiece of Alledjena about how the one who wields the Sword of Power will wreck havoc with it. These two points are separated by the personal narratives of wars, struggles, disappointments, hurts, etc. of Prince Yazidu, Nafisa, Sarkin Ali Yaji, Mekwashe, and Kuruda who are the major characters in the novel.
One of the major strengths of this text lies in the way the writer aptly domesticated cultural narratives with ease. There is an exciting re-presentation of what looked like mythological narratives, historical tale of legends and conquered territories. The writer was also able to give a cohesive plot graph. Even when there was recourse to flashbacks, readers are not left in doubt as to whose past was being narrated and when brought back to the handy scenes in sequence, readers can equally easily connect the lines. I suspect that the novel engages different levels of human existential realities to depict the balance of life especially within the African experience. This is significant. From the natural to the supernatural, to the cultural and community life, to the dynamics of power and the narrative of love, and also to the inter ethnic and inter border wars and clashes that define the sense of life’s totality.
However, there is a sense in which the language appears forced than effortless. One could be tempted to conclude that the writer perhaps wrote cautiously. There is no doubt that the emotions of a writer help in shaping his narrative; the novel at some points is stifled by the feeling that the writer allowed his head get the better of his heart. However, sex scenes are deftly handled with finesse, and with explicit and graphic descriptions. Also, the work seems too dominated by the writer’s imprints. There are moments the text reads more like commentaries. The pacey, lyrical flow of thoughts and conversations often associated with prose works are largely hindered by the writer’s seeming expository interventions.
But she did not want to belief that he had changed a bit… (Page 148). That word should be believe.