- Date published: 1st October 2012
- Publisher: Orbit Books (Hachette AU)
- Format: Paperback, 540 pages
- Series: The Tainted Realm, Book 2
- ISBN 13: 9780733624285
- Categories: Fantasy
- Goodreads / Booktopia / Bookworld
- Source: provided for review by the publisher
Hightspall is dying.
Every year the winters worsen, and the realm’s protective magic disappeared with the traitor-king, Lyf, two thousand years ago. Now Lyf is back, bent on wiping Hightspall off the map and rebuilding his ancient land anew.
A slave orphaned by Lyf, Tali holds the key to saving the realm – or destroying it. Can she stop him before he tears Hightspall apart, and plunges the world into perpetual darkness?
This stunning sequel surpassed all my expectations and left me in awe of Irvine’s writing and world building skills. As usual, the build up is paced slowly, but the climax speeds along, ending with a cliffhanger that will distress all readers!
The rebellion that the Hightspallers stage after their the enormous defeats at the hands of the Cythonians in Vengeance forms the major plot line for this book. The world building is amazing – the cultures, values, and traditions of both peoples are well realised and I enjoyed the story expanding to show us more of the world. Garramide, in particular, is an amazing place and vividly portrayed, and it’s importance to both sides ensures us that we will be returning there in the next book. Another setting I love is Tirnan Twil – a tower set on a cliff accessible only by five narrow arched bridges. I have always loved the amazing settings that Irvine creates in his worlds and was not disappointed in the least in Rebellion.
The other plot elements are no less interesting: Lyf’s continuing struggles with gaining access to his lost king-magery, Tali’s determination to free all the slaves in Crython, the difficulties Rixion faces in regaining his honour and will to live. I’m still invested in Lyf and sympathise with him, even though he’s the enemy (or is he?). While the plot elements are woven in skilfully amongst the action and intrigue, I feel the novel is needlessly long. Irvine is never one to use one word when ten will suffice, but I found myself taking a lot of breaks while reading Rebellion because the action unfolded a tad too slowly for my liking. This is the only real negative point I have to make about it.
The main characters continue to grow and learn throughout the novel, and I was impressed with Rixion in particular. The death of his parents and the ruination of his House really matured him up, and although he still made mistakes, it’s obvious how much he has changed from the moment he arrives at Garramide. Although his trusting nature gets him into trouble a few times, I hope that the war and its consequences don’t rob him of his goodness. Tali also grew admirably, discovering her strengths and finding courage inside herself to do what needs to be done. Rebellion also introduces us to a host of new characters, my favourite of which has to be the mysterious Holm. He is written as the archetypal old-guy-who-knows-everything and rather conveniently meets Tali just as she needs guidance with her magic, but he proves to be an intriguing character none-the-less.
Rebellion is a great book that builds upon the foundations that Vengeance laid out beautifully, and I recommend the series for fans of Irvine’s works and those who enjoy epic fantasy. One of the greatest things about all of Irvine’s works is that they stay away from the overused ‘swords and sorcery’ tropes. I am looking forward to reading the conclusion to this series, Justice, next year.
Rebellion will be available to UK and US readers from Orbit in March 2013.