SPFBO Finalist Review: Beggar’s Rebellion by Levi Jacobs

44078583._sy475_Moving right along! This week, I’ll be talking about Beggar’s Rebellion.

Tai Kulga lost the rebellion and his best friend on the same day, stripping him of his will to live even as a strange power flooded his bones. When the friend returns as a spirit guide, it feels like a second chance—but his friend is not who he was, and the Councilate is not done oppressing his people. When trouble with lawkeepers lands Tai’s surviving friends in a prison camp, he must go underground to find the last of the rebels and convince them to break his friends free. 

Along the way he meets Ellumia Aygla, runaway Councilate daughter posing as an accountant to escape her family and the avarice of the capital. Curious about the link between spirit guides and magic, her insights earn her a place among the rebels, and along with Tai’s power help turn the tide against the colonialists. 

But as the rebels begin to repeat the Councilate’s mistakes, Tai and Ellumia must confront their own pasts and prejudices, before the brewing war turns them into the monsters they fight.

The guard sneered. “No one gets inside less we say so.”

“And no one who does gets out,” the other put in, a thick woman with uneven eyes. “So git.”

“And what do I have to do to get inside?”

“Something illegal,” the first one said.

Tai decked him.

This is the story of Tai and Ella. Tai is more or less a street urchin, selling a magical moss called yura in order to help himself and a few kids under his protection survive in a land oppressed by a people known as the Councilate. Tai tries his best to profit from the Councilate’s need for yura by selling it illegally. This ends up with him in trouble with the authorities, and after a short stint in a mine, ends up joining the a group of rebels set on bringing down the Councilate. Ella is a citizen of the Councilate, on the run from her family, trying to survive as an unlicensed accountant. This also gets her in trouble and in digging herself out of it, finds herself meeting Tai and the rebels.

I have heard this story compared to Sanderson’s work a lot in my interactions about it, and that is definitely a fair assessment. It feels like Stormlight meets Mistborn, in a way. The most obvious similarity is that of the magic system, which in this case are called Resonances. People in this world have magical powers, which they can use depending on the foods they eat. Tai’s people, one of the several nationalities of people collectively known as ‘darkhairs’ have access to these powers somewhat naturally and fuel it with heartier foods like root vegetables, while the people of the Councilate, ‘lighthairs’ such as Ella, mostly have to ingest the yura moss to briefly gain their powers. Each set of powers has a name. Tai, who can manipulate the wind, is called a wafter, and Ella, who can slow down time, is called a timeslip.

This was a well written story, which flowed quite well, and read pretty quickly. I sat down to start it one night and before I knew it, I was a quarter of the way through it. Though a few others have complained that it needed a little more copy editing, I have to say that I didn’t encounter too many problems. The version that I read (prime reading) wasn’t chock full of errors or suchlike. Perhaps one or two, but I didn’t notice them so much at all. Each chapter has a snippet of info from various in-world books to give little insights into the world, and I found some of them quite interesting on their own.

As for characters, I quite liked Tai and Ella, and I cared what happened to them. The POV switches pretty often between the two of them, and I found that this was never bothersome, and never left me in a place where the tension at the end of the chapter before switching to the other POV was too high. There are times when the timeline shifts back after a POV change, but usually only when both Ella and Tai are together in the same place, so it’s not very disorienting.

The magic system made sense, for the most part, though it left me with a few questions as it expanded, likely to be answered in later books in the series. Magic usage had consequences, which I quite enjoy in stories. Tai, for example, gets ‘the bends’ when his runs out. It’s not quite as intricate as some of the harder magic systems I’ve read, but it made sense and was entertaining.

My biggest problem with this one was the fake swears that were prevalent enough to be irritating. These characters swear quite a bit, and while much of it is in-world religious cursing (which make sense to me, because that is part of worldbuilding), every now and then, these characters use words that they very clearly wish were the f-bomb. It gives the book a PG13 vibe, being full of characters obviously dropping f-bombs, but without using the big bad f-bomb itself (it’s fuck, for the record). This book has an especially irritating case of the fake swears. It will often use a stand-in for the word shit when the actual word shit pops up a time or two anyway. There were a few times when ‘scat,’ (yes, a synonym for shit, please gods can we just not?) is used in place of the word fuck. I don’t understand why. Fake swears and I very rarely get along, because in many cases it feels like authors are making up new words to try and tiptoe around using ‘strong’ language. In a book where characters are stabbed, sliced, tortured, sexually harassed, and more or less forced into a drug overdose… this makes zero sense to me.

Authors, if your characters are foul-mouthed, just make them fucking foul-mouthed and stop pussyfooting around. Please. If you don’t want cursing in your book, you’re better off just avoiding it altogether instead of trying to create a new language for four or five words that already fucking exist. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

So, with that aside, it was quite a good read, that ended satisfactorily but still left me wanting more. I would have had another entire point worth of fun with it, honestly, if it wasn’t for my having to stop every now and then to roll my eyes. If you aren’t bothered by fake swears, or are bothered by real ones (grats on getting this far, if so ^_^) – then the last few paragraphs are moot. Read this book, like… yesterday.

If you’re a fan of hard magic systems and plenty of action involving them, or protagonists who can fly and slow down time, then there is a pretty good chance that you’ll dig Beggar’s Rebellion. I, for one, plan to read more into the series, because I am itching to know what happens.

Yes, even if I have to fucking swear about swearing some more. 7/10 stars.

Finalist Score:

Kristen: 7.0
Esme: 7.2

Average: 7.1

SPFBO Final Score: 7/10

6 thoughts on “SPFBO Finalist Review: Beggar’s Rebellion by Levi Jacobs

Add yours

  1. Ah, masked swears, such a pet peeve lol. Remember reading the word “frack” in a recent read to substitute our friendly neighborhood “fuck” and just? whoa.

    Sounds like a fun read tho, I should pick this up! The street urchins always get to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Superstar! Glad you enjoyed it, and you’re certainly not the first to have swears about my fake swears! IRL I have a foul mouth, so I think I’m just going to let them fly in the next series.

    Liked by 1 person

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