Title: Rebellion of the Black Militia
Author: Richard Nell
Genre: Black Powder Fantasy Novella
Rating: 3.5 of 5
Thank you to the author for a free copy. That in no way impacts the content of this review (the last free fantasy book I got directly from its author will be making an appearance on my upcoming “worst of the year” list).
Somewhere between high fantasy and steampunk is black powder fantasy where you can expect to find musketeers & mages or dragoons & demons on the same battlefield. This was my first foray into the genre (unless you count Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell which I think of as more of an alternate history) and it was largely enjoyable.
Good world-building is a huge part of what I look for in a fantasy novel, and this book has it. Due to the length, it is not developed in depth, but there are plenty of hints at a rich history, political landscape, and magical system. These are skillfully woven into the story rather than presented in amateurish info-dumps.
The novella’s plot and protagonist were a bit tropey (sheltered apprentice goes out into the big bad world and finds it to be full of flawed heroes, ugly politics, and unexpected responsibilities) but still a good read. The “wise/flawed master” secondary character was especially well executed as were the, unfortunately brief battle scenes. Due to the short length it felt a bit under-developed – rather like the introduction to a longer series…one that I would probably read if the author wrote it.