Review: Rebirth (Divinity’s Twilight #1) by Christopher Russell

Rating: 7.5/10

Synopsis

A world consumed by war . . .

An ancient evil resurrected . . .

A millennia old bargain comes due . . .

When two blades clash, the third will fall, and the fate of all will be jeopardized. To save Lozaria, the failures of the past must be atoned for by a new generation of heroes. The time has come for mortals to cast off sight and, in doing so, truly come to see . . .

Victory is never absolute.

Seven centuries ago, the forces of order won the Illyriite War on the plains of Har’muth. Darmatus and Rabban Aurelian slew their elder brother, Sarcon, the despotic architect of the conflict, then sacrificed themselves to banish the cataclysmic vortex opened with his dying breath. The first advent of the Oblivion Well was thwarted. Even without their vanished gods, the seven races of Lozaria proved themselves capable of safeguarding their world.

Or so the story goes.

The year is now 697 A.B.H (After the Battle of Har’muth). Though war itself remains much the same, the weapons with which it is waged have evolved. Airships bearing powerful cannons ply the skies, reducing the influence of mages and their spells. Long range communication has brought far flung regions of Lozaria closer than ever before. At the center of this technological revolution are the three Terran states of Darmatia, Rabban, and Sarconia, who have fought a near ceaseless campaign of 700 years in an attempt to best each other. The roots of their enmity lie buried beneath the wasteland of Har’muth, a place all three nations consider best forgotten.

However, an ancient power sealed within Har’muth has not forgotten them, and the descendants of those who fought on that field must now take a stand to rectify the mistakes of the past.

Review

Thanks to the author for a copy of Rebirth (Divinity’s Twilight #1) for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Rebirth is quite an epic debut; one that is both captivating and, at times, a tad long-winded. Fans of both the fantasy and science fiction genres will find plenty to like here, and I believe will continue along for the ride to come (which I hear is six (6) novels!). Russell definitely knows how to tell a story and knows what it takes to capture a reader’s attention, which will pay dividends down the road.

Picture the first time you read/saw the Battle of Helm’s Deep (or the Battle of the Hornburg for you super-nerds) in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Now put it at the beginning of the story and you have the 45-page prologue to Rebirth. There is action, death, blood, magic, monsters, ancient powers, and much more. I mean, pretty much a fantasy lover’s wet dream. It is intense, insane, and impossible to look away from. It may be one of the longest prologues I’ve ever come across and felt as if I was reading the culmination of an entire series rather than the beginning.

My main concern with the style with which this story unfolds is the characters. Not that they aren’t fascinating, but moreso that they felt very surface-level for quite some time. I’ve harped for a very long time in book reviews about being able to find a character that I can connect with for the long-haul, and considering the prologue lasted for so long and then I’m given new characters, it sort of… threw me a bit. Darmatus was my boy, and then he wasn’t. Now I have a whole slew of new characters left to pick up the pieces and they took their sweet time doing it. Characterization over balls-to-the-wall action every time.

Having said that, another piece of the puzzle is world-building and Russell packs in enough where you open the bag and there are chips falling out (wouldn’t we all love that? An actual bag of chips that is filled to the brim. I mean, I get why there is air… but like, can you fit a few more in?)

Sorry… back to the review.

But yeah, Russell really excels at world-building, but this is also where the “long-winded” piece of my blurb comes to play. See, descriptions are great, but you can also be beaten to death with them. Become too wordy, and I start to gloss over a bit. But the world he has built is simply amazing, and to see where it is 697 years after the prologue is quite a sight. Instead of magic, we have airships with giant canons. STEAMPUNK FTW.

Can’t finish my review without a shoutout to Chris McGrath. LOVE his artwork. It is part of the reason I was so interested in checking Rebirth out. He has done some fantastic covers in the past for the likes of Sanderson, Butcher, Gladstone, Stout, and many more. Russell chose wisely, and I expect he will continue use McGrath for future novels (DO IT!)

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