Book Review – Rebellion of the Black Militia by Richard Nell


Goodreads Synopsis:

“On the twenty-first of May, in the three-hundred forty-second year of God-King Marsun’s rule—I, Johann Planck, Apprentice-Scribe of the fifth mark, have been sent to stop a demon.”

Things only get worse from there…

Johann, bastard and scribe of the tower, is yanked from his quiet, peaceful life of academia, and told to capture a creature of legend.

Beside him and hopefully guiding him rides Lam the squire—incessantly rude, incessantly smoking, and possibly insane. Or maybe fearless.

Together they must track and capture the demon Sazeal, an ancient, unkillable creature of darkness, and somehow in the meantime, discover how it was released in the first place. If it was released at all…

From the author of Kings of Paradise comes a world of muskets and cannon, knights and demons. This is the story of one man’s crucible, one man’s war against evil, and himself, brought about by rebellion…


I picked this up after seeing a recommendation for it in a list of Kindle Unlimited books. As it was a novella, I figured it would be a perfect quick read although that didn’t exactly happen. This was an okay enough read (at first) but whenever I stopped I felt no particular desire to return to it and so it sat on my Kindle, half finished, for quite a while as I read other, more compelling reads.

The main character, Johann, is an apprentice scribe in an academic setting and as much as I love academia and academic characters, I never grew to like him. I didn’t dislike him, I was just indifferent towards his character, although I did dislike how judgemental he was. Because of this indifference, I think that is what caused me to have no real desire to pick the book up whenever I took a break as I wasn’t invested enough to want to see what happens to him and if his story continues, I won’t be reading it.

The worldbuilding was interesting enough, I was really interested in how they capture demons and how this affected the hosts. I probably wouldn’t have finished the novella if not for the setting as that I really enjoyed, that and Lam who was a great character.

Unfortunately, just as I was starting to enjoy the novella and growing to like Johann, there was a horrible scene at the end of the book that completely soured me on the whole thing and has put me off reading anything by the author again. In the scene, Johann has returned to the scribes tower and saw a character who “bullies the squires”. He realises that this character is cruel and enjoys exerting his power over those lower than him, and then he proceeds to kiss him and grab his ass to make the character uncomfortable. What this did instead was make me very uncomfortable as there was literally no need for this scene, unless the author really wanted to develop Johann’s character as somebody who thinks it’s fun to commit sexual assault.

Due to that uncomfortable scene at the end, I do not feel comfortable in recommending this, nor will I be reading anything further by this author.


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