Written by Philip Davies
Published by Books to Treasure
Review by Charlie Britten
It’s ten days before her eighteenth birthday and her Coronation as Queen of Anestra and Kat (officially Princess Katelin) is dreading a life of royal duties. Kat’s parents having been killed in battle when she was small, the country is currently ruled by regents, her Uncle Ethabos and Aunt Sirika, whom annoy Kat to distraction. When her aunt attempts one last attempt to break her (in other words, to bring her into line) Kat helps herself to one last adventure, by scaling down the wall from her bedroom, escaping from the palace and buying a sea passage on The Oyster Shell. Captured by slavers, she is taken to the land of Lasseny, but the crew of The Oyster Shell, who promised her safe passage when they accepted her fare, buy her back in the slave market.
Lasseny is not a nice place to be, its residents ground down by punitive taxes levied to keep the evil Duke of Lasseny and his son, Count Bassilius (who thinks he’s going to marry Kat), in luxury. Kat, however, is with new friends: Armus, a cleric; Hedger, a mercenary; Sigzay, a female mercenary, barbarian and Hedger’s girlfriend. On a quest for missing segments of the Anestran Crown, said to be in the possession of the Duke, Kat and her companions become aware of fighters and armaments being mobilised in readiness for an imminent attack on Anestra. They set off on a long trek on foot back home, not only to warn the Anestran Court of the coming Lassenite assault, but because Kat knows, in her heart, that she must return and be resigned to her fate. Then comes the twist, which I did not anticipate at all.
Published in September 2015, this is Philip Davies’s first novel, available in paperback only. Targeted at the young adult market, Destiny’s Rebel, like many others in the fantasy genre, is set in a fictitious world and a broadly medieval setting, in which royals live in castles and fighters do battle with bows and arrows, bolts and battering rams. There are no fantasy animals, though, or magic forces, just humans.
What is significant is the modern role of women: both Kat and Sigzay fight alongside men, and appear to have no obvious domestic roles. Sigzay, however, is jealous of Kat in a bitchy way, which makes her vulnerable, thereby gaining her the reader’s sympathy. Sigzay is a particularly well-drawn character. Kat is a likeable gutsy girl, who wins the reader’s confidence within the first few pages, although she has her flaws, which make realistically, and endearingly, teenage.
A gently Christian novel, Destiny’s Rebel evokes the Biblical story of Jonah, who, not wanting to go to Nineveh where God had sent him, ended up in the whale. The Anestrans worship the gentle good goddess whom they call ‘The Divine’, to whom they owe a distinctively Christian duty of love and obedience, while Lasseny is presided over by the evil devil Ilbassi. Note that ‘The Divine’ is a woman.
A thoroughly readable first novel by Philip Davies, a page-turner, but thought-provoking. Hope the young adults enjoy as much as I, an older adult, did.
Charlie Britten has contributed to Every Day Fiction, Mslexia, Linnet’s Wings, CafeLit, and Radgepacket. She has also written a couple of book reviews for Copperfield Review. She writes because she loves doing it.
All Charlie’s work is based in reality, with a strong human interest element. Although much of her work is humorous, she has also written serious fiction, about the 7/7 Bombings in London and attitudes to education before the Second World War. Charlie lives in southern England with her husband and cat. In real life, she is an IT lecturer at a college of further education. Charlie’s blog: http://charliebritten.wordpress.com/.