#SPFBO Review : Beggar’s Rebellion (Resonant Saga #1) by Levi Jacobs

BeggarsRebellionBeggar’s Rebellion is the third (well, fourth if you include my own) finalist I’ve read as part of the second stage of the SPFBO competition and, a few issues aside, it was an enjoyable read.

The story follows two characters who are very far removed in terms of background and nature but very similar in the tangled situations they find themselves in.

Ellumia (sometimes known as Ella) is a young woman who works and travels continuously aboard a riverboat.  Tai is an orphan selling blackmarket goods with a small team who have become like family to him.  Both of them are living a little on the edge and their worlds are about to become more complicated.

The world here is the most fascinating part of the story for me. This is a world of magic, it seems that most people have the ability to use magic but in order to do so they need to take Yura – a small mossy type pill that helps people to ‘resonate’ or tap into their abilities.  The magic takes different forms, Ellumia, for example, can timeslip – which means she can effectively slow down everything around her, other magical users can mind read or become fast and strong.  Of course, the discovery of Yura and the desire to be economically in control of the substance led to war and the eventual rebellion alluded to in the title.  The country here is very much divided between the ‘haves’ (the conquerors, sometimes known as lighthairs) and the ‘have nots’.  Oppression is very real and resentment runs high.  On top of the magic most people seem to have a voice inside their head, believed to be an ancestor or in some circumstances a friend who has passed away.  Not much is known about these voices and this is definitely something I would be interested in learning more about.

The characters share similar page time and indeed similar feelings in political terms.  Ella comes from a privileged background but is in hiding from her family.  She travels back and forth on board the riverboat working for the passengers as an accountant.  She isn’t actually licensed to undertake this work so although her ability isn’t in question she would still face trouble if her lack of credentials came to light. Ella wants to make changes and has ideas of joining the Councilate to try and push change from within.  Tai, joined the rebel movement in its early days but after his magic spiralled out of control took to the streets instead.  When his new street family fall into danger he finds himself making difficult choices and once again joining the rebel movement.  Both characters play quite different roles and I think this will make it highly likely that readers will enjoy their alternating povs.  Ella is very measured and plays a more thoughtful game whereas Tai becomes very much involved in the action and fight scenes.  Both Ella and Tai are a little naive in some respects and definitely make mistakes along the way – but I like that element to them, it makes them a little more relatable but, at the same time, I would also say that I haven’t at this point formed strong attachments to either of them.  I enjoyed reading their chapters because the story is fairly quick paced but I didn’t have that sense of tension when either one was faced with difficulty.

Apart from the world building and magic, the other aspect of this that I particularly enjoyed revolved around the discussions about change, and more, the idea that rising up and fighting the oppressors, to install a new system that is simply a reflection of the old one, is fundamentally flawed.

In terms of criticisms.  I didn’t have anything major but there were a few little issues.  I wasn’t overly keen on the made up cursing – if you’re going to curse in a book you might as well just go for it.  I really don’t see the point in saying things like ‘what the mech’ – we all know what that really reads as don’t we?  Curse, or do not curse, there is no mech.  That’s only a small quibble but it was something that I found a bit irritating.  Strangely enough I found myself liking the first half of the book more than the second half.  I say strangely because the second half is action packed but for some reason the action started to feel a little repetitive for me and I found myself preferring Ella’s chapters which felt more interesting due to the dual game she was playing.  This brings me to my other little issue which revolved around a slight groundhog feel to some of the chapters.  Basically, both characters relay their side to the story and this inevitably involves some repetition.

On the whole though, this was an enjoyable read, the writing is good and the pace is strong.

I would rate this as 7 out of 10.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

14 Responses to “#SPFBO Review : Beggar’s Rebellion (Resonant Saga #1) by Levi Jacobs”

  1. Tammy

    I’ve read so many books lately with made up curse words, it is strange to me too.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I can understand why author’s go for the made up words but it does distract me.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Ooh, the magic intrigues me…I don’t know why, but I’m always fascinated by magic systems in fantasy worlds that involve the ingestion of something 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, this has had a lot of readers comparing it to Mistborn because of that and also the different types of magic. The worldbuilding is quite good really, the strongest element to the story for me anyway. It was an easy, fast paced read. I did have some issues so it would be interesting to see what the second book reads like.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Invented curse words can be either fun or (as was the case for you) annoying: I guess much depends on the level of inventiveness and the frequency of use – it’s a delicate balance and it does not always work…

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I don’t always mind it, but at the back of my mind I figure if you’re going to curse then just do it 😀

  4. Levi

    Lynn thank you so much for this review! I am glad you enjoyed it as well as you did. In the last week I just finished a revision that ‘tones down’ those in-world swears–on reread I also thought they felt a bit heavy-handed! I appreciate you taking the time to judge for SPFBO, and hope you are finding some gems!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks Levi, it was a good read and fast paced. I had a few issues but they definitely didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
      Good luck with the SPFBO.
      Lynn 😀

  5. sjhigbee

    I do use made-up curse words, as I find it helps with the worldbuiling – but it is very easy to get it wrong:)). As ever, a detailed and well written review.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I’ve had it before in books and to be fair, even though I’m not sure why, it doesn’t always irritate me. In fairness, sometimes when I used to listen to my children growing up I thought they were making up a whole new way of cursing without me knowing.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        lol… yes, teen slang and catchwords come and go. I really like the ‘Oh my days!’ currently going the rounds:)

  6. waytoofantasy

    I get what you mean, most of the time I don’t like made up cursing (with a few exceptions). Glad you still enjoyed this one for the most part though!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I did enjoy this. The cursing wasn’t a deal breaker and it’s not always a problem – I think maybe in this instance the words were too similar somehow if that makes sense?
      Lynn 😀

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