The battle is over. The heroes lower their weapons as the crowd cheers. The evil overlord has been defeated, and the hero’s people are free.
That’s the question asked in Rebellion’s Song by J.E. Brand. Earlier this year, I posted about how much I love The Freedom Game, my sister’s first book. Now, the sequel is out, and I have to gush about how great it is, too.
The rebellion is over. The real fight has just begun…
Recently victorious in her rebellion against the crown, Ethlynn must now keep her newly freed people alive. Though they won their first battle, they have no functioning government or trained army, and Ethlynn’s magic alone won’t be enough to protect them. Desperate to never wear a slave collar again, she resolves to travel with her brother Kemp to the neighboring country of Seinako to negotiate an alliance
Flying on the back of a dragon and swimming to the ocean’s darkest depths to make deals with mermaids, Ethlynn realizes the world is far bigger than she could have ever imaged – and infinitely more dangerous.
The sorcerers of the crown are furious at her betrayal and enlist the Alpha of Esper’s deadliest werewolf pack to find her, and the huntsman doesn’t plan to bring her in alive. It’s not enough to survive. She must win over Seinako before the new world she created comes crumbling down. Even if that means she must become the cold-blooded killer the crown once groomed her to be…
I’m 100% on board with this plot. Because let’s face it: the good guys win at the end of most stories. We watched the Rebels bring down the Empire and saw the armies of Mordor scatter as the Tower of Sauron fell. But fewer stories deal with the aftermath.
(Although I guess the reconstruction is addressed in the novels of the Star Wars Expanded Universe and all those appendixes after The Lord of the Rings… But none of that made it into the movies, so my point still stands!)
At the end of The Freedom Game, Ethlynn defeated her former master and freed her people in an epic battle involving awesome magic and a huge freaking dragon. But her people had been enslaved for generations and only know how to mine, not how to grow crops or create a functioning government. Plus, they only have a collection of secondhand weapons and armor scavenged from their former captors, leaving them in danger of being quickly conquered again and re-enslaved.
I’ve talked before about how much I love Ethlynn, the main character of this series. She’s a precious cinnamon roll stuck in a crapsack fantasy world where everyone else is just the worst. (Except Wystan. Wystan is cool.) She wants to do the right thing, but she’s constantly forced into situations where there is no clear right choice, and that only continues in this book. Yet she remains a kind and caring person despite everything.
Maybe it’s that kindness that makes people constantly underestimate her, but they really shouldn’t. She’s a badass sorceress and does some epic magic in this book’s multiple battles.
That being said… I think I have a new favorite character?
Rebellion’s Song has several different characters and subplots, one of which follows Ethlynn’s friend Allura and the rest of their people as they await Ethlynn’s return from Seinako with reinforcements and supplies. Allura is elected queen and has some difficult choices to make when it comes to what’s best for her people. I’m a big fan of queens in fiction, both good and evil, and Allura is… honestly a little evil, maybe?
But I totally see where she’s coming from! Her people were enslaved, and she’s getting revenge against their oppressors. And she’s just so sarcastic when she’s in queen mode. I love it.
Ethlynn is thrown headfirst into politics in Seinako as she tries to negotiate an alliance for her people, and I love how many competing goals and motivations are involved. Ethlynn and her brother both want to protect their people, but they often have very different ideas of how to go about it. The leader of Seinako wants one thing from the alliance, which his chief advisor strongly disagrees with, and that’s not even getting into how the people of Seinako feel about the foreign sorceress staying in the palace and her far-off people their soldiers would be sent to protect.
So many layers of conflict fill this book. There’s seriously never a dull moment.
Rebellion’s Song has it all: sorcery, political intrigue, complex characters–and I’ve barely even talked about the DRAGONS. If you like epic fantasy or are looking for a good YA read, you should check it out. Support the rebellion and buy your copy today!
This is the first epic fantasy I’ve read in a while. What are some of your favorite dragons in fantasy fiction? How about your favorite evil queens? Send me your recommendations in the comments!