Rebellion of the Black Militia by Richard Nell
In all my years reading speculative fiction, I haven’t dipped my toes in the “flintlock fantasy” genre until picking up Richard Nell’s “Rebellion of the Black Militia” novella. I first became aware of Richard Nell having recently finished the remarkable “Kings of Paradise,” so I was eager to explore more of his work. This novella utilizes a vastly different setting and playbook than “Kings of Paradise,” and I’m happy to report that Nell’s talent for character building, detailed action scenes, and skilled pacing shines brightly throughout the story.
The plot centers around Johann, an apprentice Scribe who has spent the majority of his life in a castle tower reading and researching the history of the realm. He is a (mostly) pious young man, but not familiar with the harsh realities of the surrounding empire. At the onset of the story, Johann is summoned by the knight Lamorak to help him defeat and capture a demon. Johann would then proceed to bind this demon, therefore removing it from further threatening the land. Once the pair start their journey, Johann quickly realizes that his knight companion and the realities of the world around him subvert his expectations and worldview, and redefines what measures must be taken in order to serve the laws of their king. Soon, the pair become entangled with a rebel militia under the demon’s command, and Johann quickly realizes that his life’s path might not turn out the way he thinks.
Lamorak is a vulgar and battle-hardened knight with decades of war and blood under his belt, and a lot of early enjoyment is extrapolated from the relationship between him and Johann. They both have varied histories and conflicting morals, and their conversations and attitudes helped to breathe life into their characterization while also building upon the history of the surrounding empire. I was impressed at how much world-building information was tactfully delivered, as well as how well-defined Johann and Lamorak felt by the end of the story. Johann’s metamorphosis felt earned, and his decisions and changing viewpoints seemed like a natural reaction to the events he was experiencing. Character progression was one of the strongest parts of this story, and it speaks to Nell’s considerable talent as a writer to have his protagonist come so far in a relatively short novella.
Similar to “Kings of Paradise,” there is some magic in the world, but it was reserved until the final act of the story, and its placement and usage added a lot of tension and gravity to the final battle scenes. The binding of demons, the powers it grants, and the consequences of such actions were a driving force through the end of the story. It was thrilling to watch our heroes battle with cannons and powder-based firearms in a bloody and oft-horrific showdown, with several surprises and twists revealing themselves along the way. At first, the combination of muskets and super-powered demons felt like a strange combination, but Nell’s attention to detail and vivid descriptions of the sights and sounds of the battlefield made it feel natural and earned.
This novella is part of a planned trilogy of novellas that will serve as a prequel series to something much larger that Nell is working on down the road. While this story feels complete, it also opens that door for potentially many more exciting missions and quests in future installments. “Rebellion of the Black Militia” is an excellent introduction to the world of Johann and Lamorek, and I hope it won’t be the last.
This Rebellion of the Black Militia book review was written by Adam Weller
Have you read Rebellion of the Black Militia?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Rebellion of the Black Militia reader reviews
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Raven Tower
For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unres...
Red Queen's War
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
A Song of Ice and Fire
George RR Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robe...
The Inheritance Trilogy
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the...
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies...
Legends of the First Empire
Michael J Sullivan
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god f...
Nona Grey’s story reaches its shattering conclusion in the third instalment of Book of the Ancestor.THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN....
As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this...
The Goblin Emperor
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his fath...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: