Book Reviews

The Rebellion Awakens: Sentrys of Terrene: Book I

War! A strike from underground bases won the Insurgency's first victory against Vranom Imperials. During the battle, Insurgency spies intercepted a blueprint regarding the Imperials’ superweapon, the Fusion Bomb, constructed with enough Source energy to wipe out an entire landmass. Commander Tage-Ras Svendson intends to celebrate the Insurgency's victory after relaying the stolen plans before a confrontation with the notorious Venn Rhine forces him into a Vranom stronghold. With only a disembodied voice giving directions, Tage faces the ultimate test of faith. Meanwhile, in Vranom’s capital city of Sunrise, two insurgents stumble across a girl who may hold a key to restoring justice to the lost world. The Rebellion Awakens is Book I in the post-apocalyptic dystopian military science fantasy Sentrys of Terrene Series. Inspired by Star Wars with a touch of Avatar: The Last Airbender, join Tage-Ras Svendson, Sabre Kjaergaard, and Ren Elk-Jaer as they battle the People’s Republic of Vranom and expose the global superpower’s lies regarding the extinct Sentry Order.

I started 2022 with a review of a book from TC Marti’s Elementals Universe (or, as The Rebellion Awakens’ backmatter now refers to it, The Renegades Epic), and it is somewhat serendipitous that my first review of 2023 brings me right back there. While The Rebellion Awakens marks the first book in “Phase II” of The Renegades Epic and the first book in the Sentrys of Terrene trilogy, it follows the first wave of books, as chronicled in Elementals of Nordica (Wind Wielder, Wind Master and Wind Keeper), Chronicles of Rondure (Civil War), and Terrian Chronicles (Tarja Titan, along with Liza Fury: The Discovery, and Liza Fury: Catch 22, which I haven’t reviewed).

While jumping into The Renegades Epic and catching up on everything is a mammoth task (however, I do note that Marti has handily collected Phase I into an omnibus format), a great joy with this universe is that each series has its own unique identity, occupying their own space within the Elementals universe, while having their own unique feel and subgenres. This continues with The Rebellion Awakens, which, while it kicks off the second phase of the author’s narrative, stands well enough alone that it can be read in isolation from what came before. It’s worth noting, however, that this is still the first part of a trilogy and has the requisite cliffhanger ending, beckoning the reader to pick up the next book. If, like me, you’ve invested your time into The Renegades Epic, much like the majority of the books within the universe, The Rebellion Awakens rewards your dedication with linkages to what has come before. It’s a delicate balance, which as time goes on, I imagine becomes all the more difficult, but the author does an admirable job in ensuring new readers aren’t lost, while returning readers can see how everything fits together.

Shortly after the Sentrys of Terrene series (and no, I don’t know why this is spelled “Sentrys,” rather than “Sentries,” a spelling used throughout the novel) opens, readers are introduced to protagonists Tage and Sabre. The novel follows two separate plot threads, which when combined, don’t follow chronologically. It’s an entertaining device that builds an air of mystery, until towards the end of the first act, the book reveals the connection between Tage and Sabre. As the storylines progress, they soon converge, unveiling further mysteries about the world, in particular the titular Sentrys, while the plot moves towards its epic conclusion.

At 274 pages in paperback (at the time of writing, I can’t say how many swipes this will be on your Kindle), The Rebellion Awakens is a moderate length book that sits within the upper range of Marti’s books. As with those other books, he packs in plenty of story, and moves through at a speedy pace without it ever feeling rushed. A lot happens here, interspersed with action scenes that are always lively, and consistently act as highlights of the book. The author’s works often take inspiration from various parts of pop culture, and the book’s blurb and author note mention a major influence in this entry is Star Wars; something that comes through clearly throughout. The blurb itself reads like an opening crawl to a Star Wars film, the title The Rebellion Awakens feels like a Star Wars episode name, the Sentrys and their opposing force, the Venns feel reminiscent of the Jedi and Sith (explicitly mentioned in the notes, along with other Star Wars-inspired aspects), and the book even features a play on “Do, or do not; there is no try.” Despite these similarities, the book stands on its own, rather than feeling at all like a clone.

The book’s story is underpinned by its themes of government control and overreach, something that has been a recurring theme throughout The Renegades Epic. The Rebellion Awakens takes its exploration of these themes further than the previous entries, providing a glimpse of totalitarian governments, and education systems that only want to teach their version of history. While this novel’s main objective is to entertain, these are resonant themes add a little more meat to the story without bogging it down.

As fast as The Rebellion Awakens’ pace is, and as smoothly as it generally flows, the book features large amounts of exposition. While it is necessary information for the book’s story, at points I found it got in the way of the narrative and plot, hampering the flow. While it’s not enough to hinder the overall story, I can’t help but feel that it could have been massaged into the story in a more natural way. Some of this exposition comes from dialogue, with the occasional monologue explaining what’s happening.

Aside from this exposition, this is a dialogue-heavy story. Thankfully, the dialogue is handled well, with each character having their distinct voice. This dialogue works as an extension of these characters. The book features a large cast of characters, who bounce off each other well. These characters are well-rounded, engaging and entertaining. The major focus is on Sabre and Tage, who provide the points of view seen in the story, and these characters are great to follow.

As the reader follows Sabre and Tage, the author presents their story in an engaging way. The prose is written in a free-flowing manner that often comes across as casual. Although written in the third person, this fits the book’s protagonists as we experience the world through their eyes. Marti’s style in The Rebellion Awakens is engaging, drawing the reader in and keeping their attention.

If you’re already a fan of The Renegades Epic, The Rebellion Awakens expands on the Elementals universe in entertaining ways. If you’re not yet a fan, it is a great introduction to the world Marti is building. While some of the exposition interferes with the story’s flow, it remains a thoroughly entertaining science fantasy tale that serves to expand a great universe.

Favourite Passage

Something rustled in the brush ahead. The sound came from the right, then behind.

“They’re not Reds or Rangers,” Ren said, eyes narrowing.

A group of spear-wielding people stepped out from the brush from all angles. They wore animal-hide clothing and possessed a wild look, but Educators taught Sabre that wild meant uncivilised. And one look at their expressions showed otherwise.

The Rebellion Awakens: Sentrys of Terrene: Book I, Chapter Twelve: “Underlingers”

The Rebellion Awakens: Sentrys of Terrene: Book I was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.

The Rebellion Awakens is available in paperback and on Kindle, exclusive to Amazon).

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Interested in purchasing The Rebellion Awakens?

Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.

The Rebellion Awakens (Sentrys of Terrene Book 1)

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