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This is book number 1 in the The Alamaxa Duology series.
From debut author Hadeer Elsbai comes the first book in an incredibly powerful new duology, set wholly in a new world, but inspired by modern Egyptian history, about two young women—Nehal, a spoiled aristocrat used to getting what she wants and Giorgina, a poor bookshop worker used to having nothing—who find they have far more in common, particularly in their struggle for the rights of women and their ability to fight for it with forbidden elemental magic
As a waterweaver, Nehal can move and shape any water to her will, but she’s limited by her lack of formal education. She desires nothing more than to attend the newly opened Weaving Academy, take complete control of her powers, and pursue a glorious future on the battlefield with the first all-female military regiment. But her family cannot afford to let her go—crushed under her father’s gambling debt, Nehal is forcibly married into a wealthy merchant family. Her new spouse, Nico, is indifferent and distant and in love with another woman, a bookseller named Giorgina.
Giorgina has her own secret, however: she is an earthweaver with dangerously uncontrollable powers. She has no money and no prospects. Her only solace comes from her activities with the Daughters of Izdihar, a radical women’s rights group at the forefront of a movement with a simple goal: to attain recognition for women to have a say in their own lives. They live very different lives and come from very different means, yet Nehal and Giorgina have more in common than they think. The cause—and Nico—brings them into each other’s orbit, drawn in by the group’s enigmatic leader, Malak Mamdouh, and the urge to do what is right.
But their problems may seem small in the broader context of their world, as tensions are rising with a neighboring nation that desires an end to weaving and weavers. As Nehal and Giorgina fight for their rights, the threat of war looms in the background, and the two women find themselves struggling to earn—and keep—a lasting freedom.
Hadeer Elsbai is an Egyptian-American writer and librarian. Born in New York City, she grew up being shuffled between Queens and Cairo. Hadeer studied history at Hunter College and later earned her master’s degree in library science from Queens College, making her a CUNY alum twice over. She has published short stories in The Dark and Anathema. Her first novel, The Daughter of Izdihar, published in 2023.
“Elsbai’s Egyptian-inspired fantasy world is compelling and fascinating.” — Washington Post
"A wondrously rich fantasy that highlights the true struggle to revolutionize a society. You will cheer and mourn alongside Nehal and Giorgina as they dare to discover new magic, fight for a more just society, and find love in unexpected places. A debut not to be missed!" — Shannon Chakraborty, bestselling author of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi
“Forbidden magic, social revolution, and political intrigue—in The Daughters of Izdihar, author Hadeer Elsbai has written a powerful story of sisterhood, love, and struggle within a rich, vibrant world with complicated characters that leap from the page to smash the patriarchy!” — P. Djèlí Clark, author of A Master of Djinn
“With a focus on women, magic, and political schemes, this novel is cleareyed regarding social issues, timely, and above all, an engrossing fantasy. Sympathetic yet flawed characters set against a complex society on the edge of change bring this novel to vibrant life.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This debut fantasy is an impressive feminist feat, with immersive world building, fascinating, complex characters, and a plot that hooked me from start to finish.” — Buzzfeed
"Recommended for fans of unique settings and feminist fantasy, like The City of Brass, by S. A. Chakraborty, A Master of Djinn, by P. Djeli Clark, or The Power, by Naomi Alderman." — Booklist
"The Daughters of Izdihar is a gorgeous, clever feminist fantasy novel rich with magic, politics, hunger and fire. An absolute must-read." — Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne
“Action-packed, magic-filled, and led by two fierce, vividly-rendered women, The Daughters of Izdihar is a compelling and empowering debut.” — Ava Reid, bestselling author of Juniper & Thorn
"The Daughters of Izdihar is a thrilling tale of two women’s fight for rights in their patriarchal society, peppered with elemental magic, politics, and a relentless desire for that which is wrongly forbidden. I loved the characters—each one flawed but also trying their hardest to make things right." — Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter
"A powerful fantasy novel filled with clever magic, intriguing politics, and compelling characters who forge a path toward justice, no matter the obstacle." — Chelsea Abdullah, author of The Stardust Thief
"I had such a wonderful time with these ladies--these magnificent, complex, compelling ladies, who yearn and strive and rage so vividly and relatably! I thrilled at their magical discoveries and relished the steel of their grim determination in the face of oppressive expectations and their own justified fears." — Davinia Evans, author of Notorious Sorcerer
"An absolutely enthralling tale of two women striving for a better world. Filled with magic and politics, The Daughters of Izdihar grips you and doesn't let go. I couldn't put it down!" — Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of The Queens of Renthia series
"Hadeer Elsbai has set a wonderful story set in a beautifully imagined world, one I predict will have most readers on tenterhooks for the conclusion to this duology. It is absolutely a must-read for anybody who enjoys feminist fantasy stories, and one I will recommend for years to come." — Fantasy Book Critic