Fair Rebel (Castle 5) Paperback – 24 Nov. 2016
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A hugely entertaining, smart and passionately rendered novel. (SCIFINOW)
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Earlier this year I stumbled onto the news that there was a new novel coming out. To say I was excited, well they'd certainly be accurate. Fair Rebel picks up pretty much from where the series had left off. Saker, former Lightning of the Circle, has given up his immortality and his daughter Cyan is now the archer, though she is plagued by challenges. Saker's lover, Swallow, has killed herself because the Emperor only gives immortality to warriors, not to artists. And then the terrorist attacks begin. The introduction of rifles and gunpowder to the Fourlands from the other-dimensional shift has been turned to bombs and strikes at the Circle, trying to bring it down. The Circle is put on the back foot facing two sets of threats.
The novel brings a new status quo to the novels. I had, back in the day, been concerned that Swainston had drained the metaphor of immortality in the Fourlands, but the story here uses the changes in our world to create a situation that comments quite strongly on inequality and the manner in which the old power structures do not understand the common man. The events of the last year make this incredibly timely.
There is less humour in this novel, the stakes are too high and events push so hard that there is little space for it. The novel is beautifully written for the heaviness of the subject matter. It focusses primarily on the relationship between Jant and Saker, which is always compelling and given extra frisson in that Saker is now aging and mortal, becoming the father figure to Jant that we see in our parents as they age. Perhaps the antagonist Connell never gains our sympathies as well as she might, but she is fighting the force of four previous novels and people we have grown to know and love, despite their faults.
That we know there is another novel already in the pipeline is an excellent gift.
The writing is crisp, the character faulted and for me thats what helps bring them to life, the fact that no matter what foibles they have their acts of heroism really stand out for the fact that they feel like real people. Add to this great dialogue alongside a plot that once it sweeps you up won't let go all round makes this a thrilling ride. Magical.
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Waiting for the next installment.