The road to power... is paved with blood and magic. Cleo   is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica ...

BOOK REVIEW: REBEL SPRING BY MORGAN RHODES

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The road to power... is paved with blood and magic.

Cleo
 is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people.
Magnus stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia.
Lucia is haunted by the outcome of the breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms.
Jonas watched at the palace gates a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius.

After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over...

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas's hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia's, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus's, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand.

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden Mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long-smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius's road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences.



And then there were three (love interests).



In Rebel Spring, the fantastical trifecta that are Limeros, Auranos and Paelsia continue to suffer under the tyrannical reign of King Gaius. Enslavement, public executions, and oppression have all but become the norm. Limeros and Auranos, now vulnerable and unprotected, sacrifice their manpower for a road the king is suddenly very keen on seeing built. In Paelsia, this manpower comes in the form of slaves, forced to work construction under the threat of whips and death.

But fear not, fallen kingdoms (see what I did there?). The rebels are coming...

... to get themselves killed in glorious, spectacular ways. Again. And again. And again. Just when you thought The Scarlet Guard from Red Queen had no equal in terms of Rebel Failure Movements, you will be introduced to Jonas's crew. And Jonas's crew will rock your world.

As they die. Painful deaths. Accomplishing nothing.

But, hey, entertainment for the masses! At the rate King Gaius is going, soon all kingdoms will be desensitized to blood and gore, and Jonas's repeated harebrained schemes that result in mass casualties will become the kingdoms' favorite pastime. And we thought the rebels had no purpose.

Meanwhile, behind palace walls, the royals are... sleeping a lot. About a quarter of this book is reserved solely for dream sequences. With dreams the only means the Watchers have of communicating with the mortal world, these golden hawks now do more than lurk. They... scheme. And manipulate. And instigate the impending race in the search for the Kindred among the ones who want it the most. King Gaius builds roads and seeks magic under the command of the oldest Watcher alive. Lucia, stuck in her own dream world, learns about elementia and her place in it with the aid of a fascinating Watcher Alexius. And Jonas himself is trailed by a hawk who he suspects is something more. Each forges their own path toward power, freedom and magic.

But mostly, they sleep.

Which is perhaps fortunate, because Lucia's character rapidly deteriorates from sane to dull and then to mildly alarming. The King, who has always been alarming, is at least less of a threat while asleep. His neck-snapping propensities are kept well in check in dreamland. As for the rest...

Awake, we are treated mostly to Magnus, Cleo and Nic. As Magnus and Cleo's wedding day draws nearer, Magnus's sass reaches new heights, Cleo's insults reach new lows, and Nic's dismay... pretty much sustains him. And as this wedding day draws nearer, we are treated to yet another episode of Jonas's Attempts to Kidnap People And Be Useful.

More death. More destruction. More failed strides toward freedom.

And the wheel keeps on turning.

***

Have I lulled you into a false sense of security yet? Good. Now to explain the missing star in my rating (apart from Lucia's dreamworld sequences being dull). Things are about to get preachy. Beware.

I have one particular bone to pick with this series despite my enjoyment of Magnus's sass. Every now and then, a random nameless side character will make a sexist remark, only to be punched in the face, usually by a girl, before the argument shifts to matters of consequence. Which is to say, I often feel like the series is attempting to check off the "deals with gender inequality" box without actually dealing with gender inequality. I would much prefer it if this was either left out of the book entirely or actually addressed in a coherent manner - especially one which eventually shows progress on this front. More suggestions:

  • Wouldn't it be far more impactful if these sexist sentiments were expressed by prominent characters, so we can actually see an arc of progress and understanding?
  • Or if at least one of the three kingdoms was, in fact, a queendom, or in some way progressive in these matters. (But they aren't. They differ in every way imaginable, except for sexism. That's universal.)
  • Or, alternatively, if the very fiber of these societies was shown as persistently sexist, and the women at the forefront got to tackle these issues openly and consistently.
  • Or if any of the girls in the story was capable of making good decisions for an extended period of time.
  • Or, if instead of punching the offender's lights out, there was actual debate to be had.
  • Or if Jonas stopped fantasizing about Cleo's breasts instead of bothering to really know her. Or if every single male in the book with the possible exception of Magnus stopped manhandling Cleo, to which she replies with an affronted "Unhand me!" time and time and time and time again. Or if she rescued herself just once.

Any of these? Anything?

Next book. One can dream.




Are you a rebel sympathizer? Or more of a palace lakey? One way or another, get them all to pull themselves together, please. But before you do, please let us know how you enjoyed Rebel Spring in the comments below. Or, if you have yet to start the book, tell us your expectations. Or just argue with this review. We welcome that, too. (But you will be publicly executed. Apologies. Our impending world domination plans can't stand for rebels. It's why we enjoy this book so much. Failed rebellion is a thing of beauty and chuckles.)





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