July 14, 2022

BLOG TOUR The Royal Trials (Last Gate of the Emperor #2) by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE ROYAL TRIALS (LAST GATE OF THE EMPEROR #2) by Kwame Mbalia & Prince Joel Makonnen Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Kwame Mbalia & Prince Joel Makonnen

Pub. Date: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 272

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org, Libro.fm, Book Depository

*Please note - this post contains affiliate links, from which we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase

From Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel David Makonnen comes an Afrofuturist adventure about a mythical Ethiopian empire. Sci-fi and fantasy combine in this epic journey to the stars.

Yared has traveled a long way to find his place in the universe. Light years, even. Though the battle of Addis Prime is over, the spacefaring Axum Empire is still fractured. The kingdom once gave their technology away free of charge, to better humankind. Now, having been missing for over a decade, they’re returning to the planet where their galaxy-spanning civilization began―Earth.

But they find the planet in disarray. Old Earth’s atmosphere is a mess of junked shuttles and satellites. This is especially true of Debris Town, an orbital flotilla where poor spacefarers―left to rot by the Intergalactic Union that rose up in Axum’s place―have taken to piracy to survive.

Yared is set to speak at the opening of the Royal Trials, a competition of the best exo pilots in the Sol System. But on the day of his speech, the pirates launch an attack!

The siege sets off a chain of events that will lead Yared into the depths of Old Earth―and the jaws of a cruel betrayal. There’s more to the pirates―and Debris Town―than anyone saw coming.


Check out my review of the first book here!

REVIEW of The Royal Trials (Last Gate of the Emperor #2) by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen
Rating: 4 Stars
Format: eARC (Provided by Publisher and Rockstar Book Tours)
Publisher: Scholastic

After the events of Last Gate of the Emperor, Yared has unraveled the secrets surrounding his past and had his whole life changed. Now, instead of just being Yared the Gr8, he’s Lij Yared the First, Prince of Axum. Instead of it just being his Uncle Moti and his bionic lioness Besa, now he’s got parents, bodyguards, and a whole set of advisors to deal with. Will Yared be able to make it into the Royal Trials (the biggest video game tournament ever), deliver the speech of his life, and save the galaxy all while staying out of trouble?

First of all, the worldbuilding in this book is incredible. In the first installment, the story mostly stuck to the area around Addis Prime. Now, the world has been opened up more with characters traveling between different planets and space stations (in sometimes less than fashionable shuttles shaped like pigs *cue amused laughter*). I loved learning more about the royal family, the history of Axum, and all the different pieces of technology the authors dreamed up. I was also really impressed by how the video game references and mechanics were incorporated into the main storyline - if this book ever gets made into a project on the big screen, I imagine it’s going to be epic.

The characters were once again a highlight of the book as well. Yared is an insanely engaging and humorous narrator - his inner commentary and one-sided conversations with Besa and other AIs in the book always had me laughing. I also enjoyed getting to see the growth of Yared’s relationships with his newfound family members and some of the newer characters that were introduced. 

Although there’s obviously a lot of big stuff that Yared has to learn now that he’s a prince, I appreciated the authors featuring the small moments too. For example, one particularly meaningful moment for me was when Yared asks his father (the Emperor) what he was supposed to call him. It’s an interaction that takes less than a page, but it stood out to me for some reason and stayed with me for a while after I finished the book. 

Overall, The Royal Trials is another fantastic book from Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen. Being a crossover between genres, I can see this book (and the series as a whole) appealing to fans of diverse fantasy (like Mbalia’s Tristan Strong series), die-hard video game enthusiasts, and lovers of science fiction action-adventure tales. I look forward to reading more by these authors in the future, especially since the ending of this book leaves the door open for more stories in the series!

Thank you to the authors, Scholastic, Jaime at Rockstar Book Tours, and Edelweiss for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review The Royal Trials immensely! Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed this book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way.

About Kwame Mbalia:

KWAME MBALIA is a husband, father, writer, a New York Times bestselling author, and a former pharmaceutical metrologist in that order. He is the author of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, a Coretta Scott King Honor book. He lives with his family in North Carolina. Visit him online at kwamembalia.com.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads


About Prince Joel Makonnen:

PRINCE JOEL MAKONNEN is the great-grandson of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, the last emperor of Ethiopia. He is an attorney and the co-founder of Old World/New World, a media and entertainment company focused on telling powerful African stories that inspire global audiences through film, TV and books. He lives with his wife, Ariana, in Los Angeles.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE ROYAL TRIALS (LAST GATE OF THE EMPEROR #2), US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog



Ya Books Central



Kait Plus Books

Excerpt/IG Post


Two Chicks on Books


Week Two:


Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post



IG Post


Little Red Reads




Review/IG Post


Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog

Review/IG Post


The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post


Lifestyle of Me


Week Three:


The Erudite Labyrinth




IG Review


Locks, Hooks and Books



Two Points of Interest

Review/IG Post


The Bookwyrm's Den



Books and Zebras

Review/IG Post

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