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The book presents the paradigm of a magnificent black African civilization: Kush (Nubia) was a powerful and wealthy ancient civilization located just south of Egypt. Their kings used stallions and elephants in royal pageantry and warfare and built grand palaces and pyramids. Kushites were also internationally renown for their archery skills, trade, and manufacture of iron. All these facts are interwoven into the story.
The plot is meant to appeal to both blacks and whites alike. Idealized in the genre of European children’s stories, magic is nevertheless kept to a minimum so that the heroine and hero must solve their own problems via ingenuity and imagination. Philosophical issues are subtly addressed by the main characters—such as slavery (which every civilization employed) and the important role of books/knowledge/ technology in building a strong civilization. The story takes place in the first century B.C., so the general public still believes in idolatry--although the idols are smashed in a final dramatic scene and a new head priest is employed who worships only one God.
Long ago in the ancient land of Shaba, there lived a black African princess named Ashaki. The name Ashaki meant “lovely” or “beautiful” in the princess’ native homeland. And true to her namesake, Princess Ashaki was very beautiful--not only in physical outward appearance, but also more importantly from within--skin-deep--radiating confidence, poise, intelligence and integrity. The young princess had wide-set eyes that sparkled like two black opals--piercing deeply into all eyes that gazed upon her, while imparting wisdom and understanding in return. Her long ebony hair dangled shoulder-length, finely braided and set with golden bands and sparkling precious gems of diamonds and lapis lazuli. Her dark chocolate skin was as smooth as satin, gleaming with health and vitality. Frequently laughing and teasingly playful, the princess exuded a joy and reverence for life.
The king and queen of Shaba guided their daughter’s development so that she would become as learned and talented as she was beautiful. They saw to it that the princess Asha (as she came to be called) had the best education befitting a true African princess. Tutors taught Asha and her friends reading, writing, history, science, and philosophy. The princess also received instruction in singing, dancing, etiquette, and gymnastics.
On a given day, the Princess Ashaki and her many friends could be found reading, playing games such as mancala, or climbing the tall trees which grew throughout her homeland of Shaba. Ashaki had become so proficient at tumbling that she could flip and somersault in the trees as easily as she could walk on the ground. The princess had to be reminded to take her present and future regal responsibilities seriously, as she preferred running and laughing with her friends at play.
During this time, the country of Shaba was a wealthy land, from trading its vast reserves of copper and gold with Egypt and Kush--its two powerful African neighbors in the north. The king and queen of Shaba were both good and capable rulers, and the people of Shaba prospered under their rule. As Ashaki was an only child, the queen and king began to consider the prospects of a marriage alliance to maintain the peace and prosperity of the land--especially now that Ashaki had reached eighteen years of age…
Posted August 7, 2001
I thoroughly enjoyed this young adult novel. It has wonderful and colorful character development, centering on a young princess of an ancient east African kingdom. The author cleverly mixes science with an exciting plot to produce a first rate adventure. Anyone with children/grandchildren in the 10-14 year old range won't go wrong with this one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.