|Series: Resonant #1||Rating: 5.56/10|
|Date of Publishing: February 17th 2019||Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy|
|Publisher: Self-Published||Number of Pages: 368|
The Councilate controls everything except the truth. I have nothing save my discovery—but with this shall I destroy an empire.
Tai Kulga lost the rebellion and his best friend on the same day, stripping him of his will to live even as a strange power flooded his bones. When the friend returns as a spirit guide, it feels like a second chance—but his friend is not who he was, and the Councilate is not done oppressing his people. When trouble with lawkeepers lands Tai’s surviving friends in a prison camp, he must go underground to find the last of the rebels and convince them to break his friends free.
Along the way he meets Ellumia Aygla, runaway Councilate daughter posing as an accountant to escape her family and the avarice of the capital. Curious about the link between spirit guides and magic, her insights earn her a place among the rebels, and along with Tai’s power help turn the tide against the colonialists.
But as the rebels begin to repeat the Councilate’s mistakes, Tai and Ellumia must confront their own pasts and prejudices, before the brewing war turns them into the monsters they fight.
Belle’s Review – 2/10
I apologise in advance. I struggled hard with this book. I wanted to like it so much, and there are things I do like about it, but unfortunately, they didn’t outweigh the flaws for me.
I did enjoy the plot, and the characters. Being able to see both sides of the conflict was a great way to get a feel for everything happening. I appreciated their unique perspectives on what was going on, and it was easy to care about each of them.
The magic system was also very interesting and it’s almost worth continuing the series just to learn more about how it works and where it comes from as we’re left not entirely sure whether it’s innate yet enhanced by specific foods, or whether it comes solely from the food. I also found the inner voices/spirit guides interesting, especially in how they affected people’s ability to use magic.
That said, I very much struggled with the writing. Having whole scenes that we’ve experienced rewritten from the other POV was tedious and didn’t add anything new to the situation. There were also constant continuity errors, characters changing names (sometimes in the same sentence), inconsistencies in how magic was used, inconsistencies in the timeline and I am still confused as to how Tai flew threw as many windows as he did without being torn to shreds.
I also found the constant reinforcing of “light hair = good, dark hair = bad” to be … well, racist, really, especially as there’s a side of White Saviour thrown in as Ella specifically travels all this way to learn from the quaint natives, discovers how bad things are, and sets about trying to save them.
Ultimately, it’s a promising book, but it definitely read like a draft to me, and needs some more editing, maybe also a sensitivity read, to truly shine.
Jen’s Review – 7/10
Two people from different sides of the track meet and find love, er…nope, just kidding. Actually, they get involved with a rebellion and turn a city on its heels; there’s death, mayhem, super-power type magics, and a lot of stuff getting burned.
We follow two characters:
Ella. She is currently like the H&R block of the Sea, doing taxes and bookkeeping for seafarers, so they can be about their business as soon they come ashore.
Saving her money to go to an elite school, she’s been hiding her identity while living aboard. She’s not licensed as a calculator (this world bookkeepers) and gets herself in a spot of trouble when her secret is outed and her savings stolen. Ella is smart, thinks on her feet and has plans to change the world. She’s very idealistic, righteous and quite naïve.
Her special ability/magic (called Resonances) is time-slipping, she can slow down time. One thing I liked about this was the way it was written when she slipped was that it did feel like we actually were sped up and they were slower or at a stop.
Tai lives on the street using his smarts to survive with a few kids he calls family. When Tai gets into it with one of the local peacekeeper types, it causes a backlash of trouble endangering his “kids” and forcing him to look for refuge down in the mines.
Tai wants the world to change but probably wouldn’t have rocked the boat except his kids were endangered. His special ability/magic is that he is a Wafter – he can run fast and jump really high. He also has the advantage of not needing the Yura to use this ability (more on that below). Like Ella he is also idealistic, righteous, and naïve at times for a street kid.
The magic called Resonances was pretty cool. Kind of superhero type powers. There are six abilities that can be accessed through the Uai (the inner power that fuels the magic) and it seems like quite a few people are able to use their Uai with the help of Yura (a type of moss). This has made Yura a top commodity for trade and black-marketing. In the capital where it’s all the rage- a little ball is worth quite a lot of money.
There is an added twist that some people don’t need to use the Yura, they have “pleased their ancestors” and have reached the next level of their ability (this has progression fantasy magic feel since they are already quite strong and they gain access to stronger abilities as they “level-up”).
Pleasing the Ancestor – The ancestors are like ghosts or demons that feed off your Uai. The Yura helps by muting them for a brief time allowing a person to access their abilities.
Both Ella and Tai have Ancestors. Tai’s is the ghost of his friend Hake, whose sister is one of the kids he looks after. Ella’s is LeTwi a respected scholar.
Because they’re like having two extra main characters they help a bit with the exposition and filling little details of the world, but I also got annoyed with them occasionally with the repetitive arguing.
The story and the pacing:
I was impressed with the amount of detail that was packed in to this book – it was definitely the strong point of the story and the pace was surprisingly fast for an epic fantasy that features this much world and magic building.
But there were also places I felt it was too fast because some of the important events seem to happen lickety-split (the search for the kids for example) and in others it felt a little draggy just because I wasn’t as interested. Most of the instances that felt fast were where I wanted to slow down and explore the repercussions.
I did appreciate not having to sit around doing nonsensical things waiting for a realistic amount of time to pass to build the rebel army etc.
Pet peeve alert – I am sure everyone knows by now how much I hate an overlapping POV retelling of a scene, especially one that adds absolutely nothing to the story. I dock a lot of points for these clunky feeling add-ons and I need a good reason for them to be there to not do that. I want to learn something new from them, not just a rehash of what happened so we can see the other POV’s reactions. That kind of thing should and can be shown the first time around. (IMO)
- Liked the events to do with The High Arbiter.
- Enjoyed all the courtroom trial with Ella and Ordil, the back and forth with the case and quick pacing made it fun to see the proceedings even though I felt the whole thing was a little on the easy-side.
- There was a bit of confusion for me about the magic and its uniqueness to certain people, especially since Ella was worried about people seeing her talking to her inner voice but then later, everyone has magic so I assume they all have a voice as well? This was cleared up by one of the other judges (Lukasz) and was me not putting two and two together about the winter fruits and the regions and the effects on the magic.
Nick’s Review – 7.7/10
Tai Kulga is the victim of a failed rebellion attempt, now forced to work in the worst conditions imaginable in a labor camp run by the dreaded Councilate. The Councilate rules with an iron fist and oppresses those who rose up against them without mercy. Yet Tai is not content to accept his fate so willingly and has been looking for a way out of his confinement. Together with a small faction of like-minded rebels, he hopes he can free his people again and finish the attempted overthrow that was begun years earler.
Ellumia Aygla is a member of the establishment, a privileged daughter of one of the Councilate authoritarians, yet also somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the cowed minority now toiling in the prison camps. When a chance meeting brings she and Tai together, they gradually find themselves unlikely allies in a potential rekindling of the bloody battle that was waged prior.
But the Councilate is very organized and not so easily beaten. They have spent a long time solidifying their power and planting spies carefully among the populace so that any scent of rebellion may be snuffed out before it gets started. To say that it will be an uphill battle would be to put it mildly. It’s a good thing Tai isn’t really the type to give up without a fight, and a fight is most certainly what he and his companions will get.
This was an entertaining epic fantasy that I thought had a number of positive things going for it. The first is the conflict between the rebels and colonialist Councilate. It was very relatable in a historic sense and was very easy to wrap my head around. The second thing that I really enjoyed was the unique magic system. This magic system was based on the concept that if you ingested a certain amount of a “drug” for lack of a better word, you have the ability to timeslip. However, ingest too much and you are in for a world of hurt.
I enjoyed the worldbuilding although I thought maybe a little more could have been done with that. The writing was crisp and the characters were not too one-dimensional in my opinion, although there were times that I felt the secondary characters could have been fleshed out better. But all in all I really liked Beggar’s Rebellion and would recommend it based on the interesting story, the very cool magic system, and the overarching theme of the oppressed trying to get back at those keeping them under the boot. Levi Jacob‘s has done well with this first installment in the Resonant series!
Belle: 2/10 Jen: 7/10 Nick: 7.7/10
Our official SPFBO 5 rating for Beggar’s Rebellion:
Belle’s review missed the point. This book delves into the topic of racism within its world and how its society has been torn apart because of it. Discussing racism is not the same thing as being racist. Writers need to be free to explore difficult topics, including racism, without the fear of being publicly excoriated for it. The author could have written this book without touching on the topic. It could have been another boring, all-white, pseudo-European fantasy novel, but instead, the author chose to highlight the destructive force of racism using “light-hairs” and “dark-hairs” as a stand-in for skin color. The characters only succeed once they overcome their biases and work together despite their differences.