Review | Rebirth – Christopher Russell

About the Book

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.

464 pages (paperback)
Published on September 22, 2020
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This book was sent by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rebirth was a really interesting book to read. Different than I expected, with a unique world that is set up in a way that allows it to stick out from other epic fantasy out there. With air ships and technology and the like, the face of war has changed, and Russell explores these changes and their impacts throughout to book in his carefully woven story. 

The prologue drops you right into the action. In about 50 pages, we are shown a historical time in which a battle rages between three brothers. There are sacrifices and a lot of pain in a battle that pits good against evil. It’s gripping, and real, with brilliantly done character moments and action. And I will say this is both a positive and a negative, as I got so invested in this lengthy prologue and the characters in it, that when it’s over and we flip to about 700 years in the future and none of those characters I liked were present anymore, I felt a bit of whiplash. 

Where Russell really shines is his pacing and world building. There was never a dull moment. The book moved forward at a steady, almost relentless clip. I wasn’t ever bored, and I was interested in where the story was going, as well as where it had been. A big reason for that is because the world building was incredible. Russell packs so much detail into his world, it truly comes to life as you read. And it’s different enough from other epic fantasy out there, I was genuinely fascinated in what he’d created and how he’d done it. Not just the world as it is presented, but all of the history and conflict in it as well. 

Russell has a way with writing that keeps the reader engaged and wanting to read the next page, and the page after that. There’s always something exciting happening, something going on somewhere that I want to know more about. Though I will say, sometimes the book felt a bit too wordy, quality of the prose sacrificed for pacing (this is a personal bugaboo of mine), however, the sheer relentless nature of the movement of the story kept me engaged, no matter what. 

The world itself is split into three different empires: Darmatia, Sarcon, and Rabban, named after the three brothers you’ll meet in the prologue. Each empire has its own distinct personality and ruling style, and each empire exists in a constant war with all the others. This conflict, which has spanned centuries, has become part of the identity of the people who live in these empires, and it’s fascinating and so interesting how Russell has captivated that part of the human experience. There’s a lot of political intrigue, and the interesting evolution of technology has added another layer of complications to the world and the people who inhabit it.

The story is told through numerous points of view, all of them carefully crafted and chosen for their unique position to give readers a different perspective on what is going on. They all fit together well and show numerous sides of the conflict that is taking place, giving me both a window into the world itself, and an understanding of the complexities involved. Furthermore, I truly loved how Russell added some quieter moments that pulled characters together. I enjoyed the bonds of friendship and camaraderie formed, which balanced out these bolder action scenes with personal moments that were just as compelling as anything else taking place.

I will say, I think characterization might be where Russell struggles a bit. I think this also might have been sacrificed in favor of plot and action. The characters never really reached below surface level for me, though there is a lot of potential for that. There were a lot of character tropes I felt had been recycled, resulting in individuals that didn’t really feel unique enough to match the world itself. That being said, this is the first book in a series and I fully expect Russell to build upon what he’s developed here, which, while flawed, shouldn’t be seen as terrible, just not up to the caliber of his world building.

While I do have some criticisms, I really need to pit them against the fact that Rebirth really was a lot of fun. I loved every minute I spent reading it. Maybe it wasn’t groundbreaking, but the series absolutely has potential to be groundbreaking. The world is a unique blend of technology/steampunk/epic that really worked for me. The pacing was relentless, and the world was fantastically crafted. The cliffhanger ending promises more excitement in future installments. Russell has a strong foundation upon which to build the rest of his series. 

I can’t wait to see where he takes me next. 

3.5/5 stars