Rebellion: Tainted Realm: Book 2 by Ian Irvine

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Rebellion: Tainted Realm: Book 2 by Ian Irvine

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The second of the author's Tainted Realm series drags us back from the cliff over which he dangled us last time only to kick the ground out from under our feet on a few more occasions before the final page. I loved the first but this is even better.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 656 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1841498294

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The former heir Rixium is now just plain Rix as he flees his ancestral castle in Hightspall hotly pursued by the marauding Cythonians, invading his home along with his homeland. Accompanying Rix are Glynnie, a young maidservant and her little brother Benn. Hampered by his entanglement with the enemy resulting in the brutal loss of his right hand, Rix is also still mourning his best friend Tobry, killed when hurled from a tower. Meanwhile, Rix's other friend, a Pale and therefore ex-slave of the Cythonians, Tali has been kidnapped on the orders of the evil chancellor. He isn't the only one after her, just her current possessor. The other is Lyf, the Cythonian King who needs only one more of the legendary black pearls to secure his omnipotence, i.e. the black pearl embedded in Tali's head. Tali's escape from slavery came at a price, but the future for both her and Rix seems a lot more costly.

This second of the prolific Aussie author Ian Irivine's Tainted Realm series isn't perhaps as dark as the first, Vengeance. However, having got the character and world introductions out the way in Book 1 (and quickly recapped at the beginning of Book 2 but please don’t use that as an excuse not to read Vengeance), Rebellion is even more exciting. In fact, as we know everyone that bit better, the twists shock and wind us to a greater extent.

From the first page the author doesn't allow us to sit around and brood over memories of past cliff-hangers. No sooner have we gasped afresh at Rix's oozing wrist (yes, there is some gore and a bit of strong language) and yelled 'No Ian! Not Tobry! Why???' (albeit in our heads so as not to alarm the neighbours) than we're off and running again. As our heroes are attempting to outwit a dual baddie threat there is indeed much running while the flawed goodies split and traverse separate journeys and hazards which feel fresh rather than formulaic.

Rix has developed from the callow spoilt heir we met in Vengeance. He's slowly growing into the mantle of leadership and has a sense of growing responsibility towards Glynnie and Benn. He is also genuinely missing Tobry as the author blends fantasy with realism. Ian isn't afraid to explore the mourning process rather than resorting to a 'He's dead… oh dear… ooh is that a squirrel?' style. He also ensures the bereavement process doesn't retard the action or pace; a feat of some skill.

A quick tip by the way: don't assume that any of the story is just padding, even the discourses about past events. Heed well the history lessons as they will serve you well in the future.

Meanwhile jumping back on my train of thought… It's not just the characters that develop. We learn a lot more about the black pearls, Rix's sword Maloch (and his mother's motive for giving it to him) along with some hugely satisfying battles, a siege, a tower episode that will drag you beyond the edge of your seat and a bittersweet encounter for Tali… bless her! Oh and Rix goes extreme house hunting.

There are newbies; indeed, we welcome Holm to the cast, whoever he may be. It didn't take long for me to cross my fingers and wish hard that he survives. For something we've learnt is that Ian Irvine isn't one who acquiesces to the whims of readers but who prefers to write a yarn we'll never forget, and this he does, with exciting, surprising, creative knobs on.

If you haven't read it, then you'd be missing a lot if you didn't read Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine. If you're already a fan, then you may also enjoy Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan or, if you like your epic fantasy even darker, try The Grim Company by Luke Scull.

Ian Irvine's The Tainted Realm Trilogy in Chronological Order

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