Review of Ebi Robert's The Creed Of The Oracles By Hannah Onoguwe


When Ebi told me that his new novel was a fantasy novel, I was excited because I write speculative fiction as well. Not many Bayelsans write speculative fiction, and probably with good reason. In an essay I wrote earlier this year I mention how African writers are often told that we have an obligation to showcase social ills with our writing, speak truth to power, do our part in righting societal wrongs. So literary fiction takes the day most times.

But African writers don’t always want to write about societal wrongs, and we don’t always want to write literary or realist fiction. There are other genres we can employ to write about prevailing issues in our world, if we so choose. Ebi Robert has done that, convincingly, with The Creed of the Oracles.

For the uninitiated we will define the fantasy genre. According to Wikipedia, “Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and drama.” The genre often includes elements or characteristics such as world building, magical forces, fantastical creatures, a dangerous quest, and so on.

Popular stories in our present day that come to mind include Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series and many others which have made the jump from the pages of literature to the big screen. The Creed of the Oracles might very well soon be added to this list.

The Creed of the Oracles by Ebi Robert, a fantasy novel, consists of 204 pages divided into 30 chapters. The chapters are titled, giving an inkling into what each contains. From the first few sentences of the first chapter, “A Visit to Koob”, which by the way is the famous library in HEH, three things will strike you:

1.           This is no lightweight novel. It is not fluff, something you can digest over breakfast and pick your teeth with a belch and put down.

2.    The brilliance of the author in building this new world of HEH, located in the First Earth, complex as most worlds are, with characters of varying personalities and concerns, both selfish and generous, bearing uncanny resemblance to our own Earth in many ways.

3.    The language of the narration, told in the omnipresent POV. It is the language of lore, of epic tales told around a fire under a full moon, majestic, deep, riveting, lyrical in its prose as well as the poetry the author treats us to, somewhat hidden within these pages.

The second chapter, “Tresses of the South, and the Curse of Piercing”, introduces the reader to the Queen’s Castle in HEH, as well as to the complexity of the legal system of the Ring and the Brotherhood. You won’t be surprised that Ebi demonstrates to the reader early in the novel what is more or less a court proceeding. Oracles “were the chief protectors of the scroll of the Rol, the foundation of the freeman’s essence.” Replace the word “Oracles” with “Lawyers”, “The Ring” with “The Courtroom”, “Vectors” with “Judges”, “Cursed” with “Accused”, “Quizzing” with “Questioning”, “Pegged” with “Found Guilty”, and “Holding” with “Judgement” or“Ruling”, and you might be better able to follow what goes on in the Council of the Hat.

Having broken down a bit of the justice system, I’ll briefly introduce you to other groups of people you will meet in The Creed of the Oracles:

1.    The Disciples of Maggi’s Hill, who “crazily craved to meditate on some common things of life (page 17).” Also called thinkers, we can call them philosophers, our primary thinker is Lord Zucks, the principal of the Hill, a man of advanced age who also believes quite strongly in the gods and is later favoured to be their Crier.

2.    The Deserters, or Women of the Wild, “willing ladies of HEH who were hurt by their misters’ betrayals and all those who despised men for no reason…gathered to build on their own will of self-living, devoid of any interference from the arrows of men’s loins (page 36).” We can call them feminists of a peculiar sort.

3.    The Zagbars, “fierce warriors, soldiers of self-defense—freemen without conscience …who only lived for themselves and fought for whatever they collectively believed in (page 52).”

4.    The Right-Hand Votaries who “were the preachers of the principles of the pureness of the heart; they were considered weird freemen, strangers to First Earth and ostracized for what they believed (page 91).” Let’s call them missionaries or evangelists.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

5.    The Six Forces of the Earth: Zend, the goddess of the rain; Tamra, the goddess of the wind; Eva, the god of the moon; Qoick, the god of lies; Eliana, the goddess of love; and Zox.

Capricious, unpredictable, often giving a gift with one hand and five slaps with the other, Laina, a Disciple, muses to himself: “The gods are not as beautiful as we laud them (page 153).”

6.    The Mad Men of Daglor, whose origin no one knew, “considered mad and cursed by the gods for their profanity”, “feared because no sword made by men could slay them except when their heads were cut off (page 183).”

Some of these players are brought together for various reasons, but beyond that, experience within them conspiracies, betrayals, conflicts, and transient alliances in the major quest outlined in this novel.

What is this quest?

We follow Lord Zucks, the principal or shepherd of the Hill, who is visited by Winterwell, the Short Seer and the chief priest of Tamra, the goddess of the wind. Winterwell informs Lord Zucks that he has been chosen as the Crier of the gods. This means he has been given the task to first find the Billet of single page which only he can read, which will then give him direction as to the next steps to take in finding the freeman who will be crowned a demigod by the sextet gods. The journey is rife with obstacles, traps, fake shrines, disappointments, and plenty of twists and turns as freemen from the ends of HEH all seek to be crowned the demigod.

More than halfway into the novel, the hero of our story sneaks in, long after the reader must have despaired of meeting him. His name is Erecious Gar, “a retired warrior of the Western HEH who served under the Ox command, one of the best with the spear, sword and bow. He was an Oracle [that is, lawyer] who took the oracle’s oath and recited their creed (page 121)”, a man who nevertheless often introduces himself as “the fatherless son of a motherless mother (page 142).”

We then see Erecious shielding or demonstrating for, that is, defending, Brighten the Disciple after some initial reluctance, before he appears again to answer the riddle set by the gods, the six forces of the Earth. The riddle goes thus:

“Only a union can take two to ‘BE’. It is just like one hundred, which is not one hundred numbers. But do not fall for the deceit of ‘e’.”

What is the answer to this riddle? You will have to read The Creed of the Oracles to know the answer and what comes afterward.Whoever answers the riddle correctly, after passing one final test, will be crowned a demigod by the gods.

It can be summed up in a question Thredous the Tiroy asks Sillees the collector, a wealthy freeman, both of them contenders for the first ear and ultimately the crown of demigod. Thredous asks, “What should be the greatest desire of man?” To which Sillees replies eventually, “Hereafter.” Later Thredous expounds, “You see, not everyone will agree with this as man’s greatest desire, but this is what we know it is, hereafter. A good one, as I said earlier.”

And this is the desire, a good hereafter, which, in the name of religion, has fueled all sorts of atrocities and wars on Planet Earth and continues to be the reason for diverse manipulations of people in our world today, people who are seeking answers, solace and strength. It is no different in Ebi Robert’s novel, as freemen from all walks of life find themselves embroiled in similar atrocities. In the desire for this “good hereafter” we see trickery and fraud taking place, an abundance of treachery, and blood flowing from a thousand swords.

Erecious, to his credit, nurses the thought of becoming a demigod out of the purest of motivations. On page 141, Erecious “resolved that if fairness is to be the victim in the game of truth, then a just man should swing the sword of fairness and another just man should keep watch on the tower of truth. This,” according to Erecious, “must be fixed, and a place in the high places of Second Earth was the only remedy.”

He thereafter goes on a quest to solve the final test set by the gods, but in fulfilling his goal, is forced to face some unexpected truths that will change his life forever as he is told, “The truth is confusing when lies are believed to be true (page 195).”

I encourage everyone here to go on this journey with Erecious by purchasing copies of The Creed of the Oracles. Read it, gift it to your friends, colleagues and family members. Be entertained, be enlightened, be encouraged to think about the parallels that exist in our society and the roles we play—whether with selfish motives or pure.

And stay primed for the second instalment of The Creed of the Oracles. In the words of Prof. Brigitte Poirson who wrote the Introduction: “This is not the end.”

The End 




Profile of Hannah Onoguwe:

Hannah Onoguwe was born in Ibadan and grew up in Jos where her love for writing was birthed. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Ibadan, and a Master’s in Organizational Psychology from the University of Jos. During the day she represents a software company at the Nigeria Immigration Service.


Her stories have been published in Adanna, BLACKBERRY: a magazine, The Kalahari Review, Imagine Africa 500, the Strange Lands Short Stories anthology by Flame Tree Press, as well as in PerVisions, Litro, The Drum Lit Mag, Eleven Eleven, Omenana, African Writer, Timeworn Lit Mag, The Missing Slate, Mysterion Online, midnight & indigo, and in the Mukana Press 2022 Anthology of African Writing, The Newlywed’s Window. Her essays have appeared in Brittle Paper, The Stockholm Review, The Single Story Foundation, and forthcoming in Hydra Press.


Her collection of short stories, Cupid’s Catapult, was one of the ten titles chosen by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in 2014 to flag off the Nigerian Writers Series. Her novellas, Sister Dear and Adesuwa’s Dilemma, are currently available on the Okadabooks app.


Hannah won the Association of Nigerian Authors Bayelsa State Chapter's poetry competition in 2016 with the poem, “Pretty Promises.” She was one of ten finalists that emerged in the 33 Export Lager Beer Pen Down for Friendship Competition held in 2018. She has been longlisted for the Saraba Manuscript Prize, longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and her story, “Yellow Means Stay” was shortlisted for the 2020 Afritondo Short Story Prize.


She is a charter member of the African Speculative Fiction Society and an Associate member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA). She is the current Secretary of the Bayelsa State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors and was the Editor-in-Chief for the most recent edition of their literary publication, The Mariner, for which she also served as Fiction Editor in the previous edition. She has served as a judge for both the Hysteria Writing Competition, which is run annually by the Hysterectomy Association in the United Kingdom, and the Bloody Parchment competition originating in South Africa.


Hannah has taught Creative Writing to primary and secondary school students in various schools and is currently one of four Climate Imagination Fellows at the Centre for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University. See for more information. Wife to one and mother of three, she lives in Yenagoa.


 Click here to buy a copy of "The Creed Of The Oracles" on Amazon. 

Read the profiles of the panelists and virtual panel session on the public presentation of The Creed Of The Oracles.


Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)

#buttons=(Accept !) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Learn More
Accept !