The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The basics

Title: The Gilded Ones


Series: The Gilded Ones #1

- The Gilded Ones (2021)
- The Merciless Ones (2022)

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Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity--and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki--near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire's greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she's ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be--not even Deka herself.

Read a full summary of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Gilded Ones and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

What happened in The Gilded Ones?

  • Deka is going through the Ritual, which is supposed to tell whether she is “pure”. It tests the blood, which should ideally be red. If it’s gold, it means the girl is alaki – demons.
  • Deathshrieks appear as the Ritual is happening. Deka controls them, and the villagers don’t like this at all. Deka is killed, and her body is taken to the temple. Her father and the village elders kill Deka over and over again – a total of nine times – in order to harvest her golden blood.
  • A woman called Fatu shows up to take Deka away. She’s working on behalf of the emperor, and Deka calls her White Hands. Others call her the Lady of the Equus.
  • Fatu wants to take Deka to train her with the other alaki to protect the emperor. Deka meets another alaki called Britta as they travel together to Hemaira.
  • Deka and Britta both get paired with main recruits who are there to protect the alaki. Deka’s partner is called Keita.
  • Deka’s training begins. After several weeks of just the alaki training, the males join them. The alaki are hesitant to fight with them at first, but Deka brings them together.
  • Deka researches the alaki. She finds a list of women who served as spies for the emperor and finds her mother’s name in it.
  • Deathshrieks attack again. An alaki called Katya freaks out and is killed. Deka takes command of the Deathshrieks and tells them to leave. She passes out.
  • Keita tells Deka she can help her control her powers. Deka instead accepts help from White Hands, who is training up an elite group. White Hands also gives Deka private lessons.
  • The alaki starts looking for Deathshrieks and destroying their nests. The group becomes known as Death Strikers.
  • Deka comes secret temples of the Gilded Ones in the nests. She also finds a shapeshifter called Ixa which she keeps as a pet.
  • The emperor asks to see the Death Strikers, so they prepare for the emperor’s arrival.
  • White Hands teaches Deka to understand the Deathshrieks.
  • Karmoko Calderis gives Deka golden armour. Deka asks Karmoko to create armour for the others too, using her own blood.
  • The group heads into the desert. They’re attacked by Deathshrieks and Britta is injured. Under Deka’s orders, Gazal gets Britta to safety.
  • They all head into the mountains and are attacked again. This time, Katya appears as one of the Deathshrieks. Deka listens to Katya, who tells her that the alaki become Deathshrieks when they die. Katya tells the other Deathshrieks to protect Deka.
  • The emperor wants Deka dead. Keita intervenes and tricks the others by pretending that dismemberment will kill Deka once and for all.
  • Keita dismembers Deka and then takes her to a mine. White Hands and the Deathshrieks arrive. White Hands tells Deka that the Gilded Ones are goddesses, and Deka was created from their tears.
  • White Hands explains that she’s the daughter of the Gilded Ones, and she helped Umu conceive Deka in order to free the goddesses.
  • Keita kisses Deka’s hand and leaves.
  • Deka returns to the group and gets the alaki to fight off the men by working with the Deathshrieks.
  • Deka flies with Katya to the temple in the mountains.
  • They learn that the Gilded Ones were once imprisoned by male descendants using the blood of their daughters. The emperor is one of those male descendants and has magical powers because of his bloodline.
  • Deka goes to fight the emperor and defeats him.
  • The goddesses are freed using Deka’s blood, and Deka plans to go ahead and free women everywhere.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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