Book Reviews · Fiction · Historical Books · Mythology Books

In the Shadow of Ruin | Tony Debajo | Book Review

The first book in The Fractured Kingdom series, In the Shadow of Ruin, is a rare glimpse at Nigerian culture, history, and mythology. It is a historical fiction novel retelling traditional West African mythology, more specifically, ancient Nigerian.

About The Book:

Author: Tony Debajo.
Pages: 362.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Series: #1 Fractured Kingdom.

King Jide Adelani has ruled the lands of the Yoruba in West Africa for many peaceful years, but now his kingdom is in turmoil and the cold grasp of death’s embrace is closing in around everything he holds dear.

Jide spent years garnering the respect and loyalty of the tribes in the hopes of uniting them into one cohesive empire when his half-brother, Prince Olise, returns from banishment to claim the throne as his own.

The offspring of a union between the late King Adeosi and the evil enchantress Ekaete, the bitter Olise has devoted the last decade to one purpose; to seize the throne and rule the kingdom. If he fails, he risks his name being erased from the history of the tribes.

With the support of his mother, a powerful witch whose name is whispered in fear across the lands of the tribes, the outcast Olise now seems unstoppable in achieving his goal.

Facing overwhelming military might and dark forces that he cannot comprehend, Jide must either choose to ignore the warnings of the gods, and seek help from those who also practice dark arts; or risk losing his kingdom.

The book begins with a war brewing between King Jide and his half-brother, prince Olise in Yoruba, West Africa. The entire Kingdom is at stake and Jide will do anything to protect his people.

There are several flashbacks that portray the story of Jide and his equation with Olise in their childhood. Through flashbacks, we also discover that Jide’s mother, Bunmi, died shortly after his birth after striking a deal with the river goddess, Yemoja, who demanded a life for a life. Following her death, King Adeosi married Ekaete, a practitioner of black magic known as juju.

Olise, who is King Adeosi and Ekaete’s son, is now at war with King Jide and his mother is using all kinds of juju to support her son.

This novel is told from several viewpoints, each of which is engaging and fascinating. We also see through the eyes of Jide’s three sons: Toju, Niran, and Enitan. Each of the three sons has a distinct personality and an aura of their own which is well narrated by the author. They managed to flee the palace as Olise’s army sacked Ile-Ife, their capital city.


All the characters of the novel from the king to his blood guards to the princes’ blood guards have their own voices and personality.

Jide’s three sons – each has his own voice and own destiny which is well blended into their personality.

Each character is expertly crafted and has been given a space and the right time to grow and develop at their own pace.


Tony’s writing style perfectly suits the plot. It’s concise while also evoking an atmosphere that won’t let you drop the book.

“He could tell a storm was coming, he smelt it in the air and saw it in the way the clouds moved. He relished the rain to come; it had a purity about it, as if it could wash away all his doubts, all his ill intentions and quell his sense of guilt when hard choices had to be made.”

For a debut novel, it is very much commendable. I really appreciate the author’s skill of writing such words that create vivid imagery in the reader’s mind.

What I liked?

I loved everything in this novel.

  • The novel’s core is war, but much more and much greater things are built around it, that gives the plot multiple dimensions.
  • It picked up the pace right from the start and kept flowing smoothly. We are also introduced to various tribes, their Gods and their culture which was pretty interesting to read.
  • The scenes of the war were beautifully described and images played out in my eyes as I read through the words.

A major plus point of the book is the glossary at the beginning the breakdown of all the characters are and the pronunciation of their names.

What I Didn’t Like:

There’s nothing to dislike. I even love the villains. The author has provided them with a backstory that makes them whole and alive.

Final Verdict:

It’s an engrossing novel of inter-tribal conflict, love, deception, and salvation, laced with Nigerian folklore and a generous sprinkling of witchcraft and magic.

It is fiction, but the writing and the plot make it all look real and actual.

What to expect?

  • Warfare
  • Tribes
  • Witchcraft
  • Loss of Loved Ones
  • Family Separation
  • Bloodshed

Tony Debajo was born in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. Shortly after, his parents moved to London, England, where he lived until he was six years old, then the family relocated to Nigeria. He lived there for 11 years before coming back to England.

Tony’s inspiration for his novel comes from his time spent in Nigeria, where he became fascinated with the culture of his heritage.

His passion for reading was built on tales of ancient civilizations. He was enthralled by their way of life, beliefs, and cultures. He devoured any books he could lay his hands on about the Roman empire, the Mongol empire, ancient Greece, Nordic civilizations, but most of all the mythology associated with these people.

He soon realised that his country of origin was equally rich with traditions, tales of ancient gods, and acts of heroism, and decided to tap into that world.

Garnering tales and folklore remembered as a child, some of which would have been passed down through generations and typically told around fires, he began writing his debut novel, In the Shadow of Ruin, which grew as he wrote and will now be a series called The Fractured Kingdom. Tony hopes to bring to life his characters and set them free into the world.

Character Artwork:

All these artworks are designed by artist- Thea Magerand and owned by the author Tony Debajo.

King Jide
Ekaete – King Jide’s Stepmother
Enitan – Jide’s youngest son
Yemoja – River Goddess

6 thoughts on “In the Shadow of Ruin | Tony Debajo | Book Review

  1. I personally like mythology. And this seems a very interesting and unique book. Thank you for sharing your review.


  2. I always look forward to a good new fantasy and this seems like one? Also, I always prefer political fantasies over romance based fantasies! The character art looks really good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds great
    Being an African I can’t wait to read my fellow Nigerian brother’s book. And the plot definitely seems way good to pass on.
    The review was amazingly penned down too.


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