Vengeance, depending on who you believe, can be an inspirational and monstrous driving force, a dish best served cold or the impetus to dig multiple graves. It’s a also the tried, tested and powerful literary theme that lies at the heart of The Rebel Army, the third and final act in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy.
Having bested the Pirate Queen and survived the trial of The Night of Knives, Prince Maxim Maresh, now ensconced as the head of the Royal Garrison in Verose is about to face the fight of his life and an enemy with whom there is no hope of a treaty and who cannot be bargained with. If Maxim doesn’t defeat him, this enemy will keep on coming and burn the world in his wake. He will never tire. He will never falter. And he will never stop until Maxim and his family are crushed underfoot.
Leading The Rebel Army, a loose confederacy of tired and broken men searching for freedom and purpose, in pursuit of his purpose, Rowan (or the enemy if you prefer) in an unstoppable orgy of violence, bloodshed and destruction slowly draws ever nearer to his goal. Conquering port after port and city after city, Maxim’s foe heads inexorably toward Verose, his date with destiny and final confrontation with the Prince. And when Rowan and Maxim eventually face each other, all hell breaks loose.
Schwab’s unnervingly incredible ability as a story-teller draws the reader straight into the heart of the tale, allowing her characters to take centre stage in a well woven tale of intrigue, adventure, magic, revenge and sword-play. Maxim, his allies and his enemies are complicated, fully rounded creations driven by their own demons and neuroses whose interactions with each other and circumstance help to drive the narrative. Brought to life by the gorgeously detailed, sumptuous art of Andrea Olimpieri , The Rebel Army has, as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins so eloquently suggested, put a spell on me. And given the chance, I’m sure that it’ll do the same to each and every one of you… Tim Cundle
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