Last Gate of the Emperor

Last Gate of the Emperor


Kwame Mbalia

Prince Joel Makonnen


An Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this journey to the stars.

Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime — 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 are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them.

Together with Besa and the Ibis — a game rival turned reluctant ally — Yared must search for his uncle… and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war.


I feel like I missed something while reading Last Gate of the Emperor. Why did things hinge on Yared? Why weren’t they able to defeat the bad guys ten years prior? Clearly, I missed something, and I didn’t skim, so I’m not sure how.

For once, I liked the male hero of a middle school book. Normally they’re brash and stupid and so full of their own abilities. Yared had those moments, but when push came to shove, he chose correctly. He wasn’t stupid, which I liked.

The world created was interesting, and I loved the sci-fi aspect, though I thought the last line in the book was eye-roll-worthy. I liked the characters, but ultimately this was a book not written for my age group, so I’m not going to rate it. I read it because Kwame Mbalia was associated with it, and I’ve liked the Tristan Strong books. It would probably be a good introduction to sci-fi for young readers, and hopefully, they wouldn’t miss what I clearly did.


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