Synopsis from Scholastic:
Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in New Addis — a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family… and his only friends.
Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears.
Suddenly, all the stories Yared’s uncle told him as a young boy — of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters — are coming to life. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.
About: Last Gate of the Emperor is a middle grade science fiction fantasy written by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen. It will be published on 5/4/2021 by Scholastic, paperback, 304 pages. The genres are middle grade fantasy, science fiction, and mythology. This book is Prince Joel Makonnen’s debut and it’s intended for readers ages 8 to 12, grades 3 to 7. According to the publisher’s website, “Scholastic was founded in 1920 as a single classroom magazine. Today, Scholastic books and educational materials are in tens of thousands of schools and tens of millions of homes worldwide, helping to Open a World of Possible for children across the globe” and their mission is to “encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy.” Please see below for more information about the publisher and author.
My Experience: I started reading Last Gate of the Emperor on 4/13/2021 and finished it on 4/18/2021. This book was a great read! Right away, I enjoyed the humor. Since the story was futuristic, I loved the floating market as well as outer space adventures. Yared, the main character, sounded like a confident kid. He knew multiple languages and knew his way around authorities. He thought highly of himself because he called himself Yared the Great. I liked “the Ibis” who was Yared’s competitor in the augmented reality games. Yared’s only friend was the bionic cat so it was fun to read him stumble himself in teamwork and friendship with another kid his own age. I liked when Yared’s other competitors come together. I normally like to know the characters’ age but I don’t think it was mentioned in the book. They are a bit young to drive these flying machines but they did.
This book started with an interview between an auditor and Yared. The interview spread out throughout the story. Then the story began with Yared giving a presentation in class. Yared and his uncle/guardian Moti moved around often. Yared took lessons to self defense himself if he had to, encouraged by his uncle, except Yared think his uncle was unintentionally giving him skills to survive in his thrill seeking/trouble making activities. Currently his rule breaking is skipping school so he could join in The Hunt for Kaleb’s Obelisk, an augmented reality tournament. He’s accompanied by his partner in crime, the bionic cat and his best friend. There are securities all over the place so among his plans was to hide in the garbage chute but the downside was that the garbage being dumped all over him. This tournament was against the rules so it took place in a secret location. When Yared arrived, he found the game required new registration and this time, he’s to partnered up. He didn’t like that, but worse, someone else showed up where he thought that person belonged in stories his uncle told. From there, Yared was led on an adventure where he discover more than he expected.
Last Gate of the Emperor was well written and an adventurous read. There were a few twists that I was not expecting and I liked it. Yared’s chatty personality was actually funny at times. I enjoyed reading the author’s afterword and acknowledgment. I think this story can be relatable to many kids who are adopted because they would be growing up and wondering who their biological parents were. I liked that Yared has a drive for something even if it’s to break the rules to do it. It’s also cool that the story was based on Ethiopia. I do recommend everyone to read this book!
Tag Lines: adventures, humor, outer space, futuristic, friendship, augmented reality game
I rate it 4 stars!
About the Authors:
HIH Prince Joel Makonnen, a member of the Ethiopian royal family, is the great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia. He is also a descendant of the Solomonic Dynasty—the oldest monarchy in the world—which ruled Ethiopia for nearly 3,000 years. The awe-inducing world of LAST GATE OF THE EMPEROR draws upon Prince Joel’s first-hand experiences growing up as a member of Ethiopia’s royal family. https://princeyoel.com (Info provided by the publisher).
Kwame Mbalia is the author of the New York Times bestselling Tristan Strong trilogy. https://kwamembalia.com (Info provided by publisher).