Seed of Rage is great for fans of The Poppy War; it’s a dark fantasy that presents itself as YA but the graphic detail of violence means it can only be an adult adventure. This book is a wild adventure that completely consumed me & I am obsessed with that cover!
I was sent this book to review as part of a blitz organised by Xpresso Tours.
⚠️ Silverlegs is a grimdark fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the late Roman empire. The heroine evolves in an environment that is violent, classist, misogynistic, and homophobic. This book questions religious fanaticism. It contains elements of sexual violence, rape, and graphic violence – warnings provided by the author ⚠️
Will you be fast enough?
A fifteen-year-old girl with a gift for violence and nothing left to lose, Constanter is running. To escape the farm she grew up on in a remote part of the Western Lorian empire. To forget the family and the life she can never return to. She runs east, toward the distant war she knows only from the tales travelers—a twenty-year long conflict, opposing the Western and Eastern halves of the empire.
Mistaken for a boy after she stole the gear of a dead soldier, she is captured and drafted by a band of mercenaries whose leader recognizes her innate speed and agility. Her face hidden under a mask, Constanter surrenders to the anger she wears like a second skin and becomes Silverlegs, a legendary killer, an uncontrollable weapon in the hands of power-hungry rulers and religious fanatics.
As the Western empire spirals into madness in the name of the One God, Constanter will have to choose what she truly fights for, before Silverlegs’s rage leads her down the road to hell…
I absolutely loved this book, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that it’s a chilled out fantasy; Seed of Rage is a very full on story, it’s thick with detail & the violence is very graphic. The book covers a lot of issues, including sexism & homophobia, but in my opinion it does this well & author Camilla Monk has done the girl-dressed-as-boy thing so well that I did that thing where you sit back & think about what you’ve just read before you can continue when some of Constanter’s secrets become known. I was really hooked on this story & sat up late reading it every night until I finished it.
The story gets going in this book very quickly; the first couple chapters are full of discomfort, but then the story becomes calm & Constanter is stuck in this weird in-between where she has to decide where she is going to go & what she is going to do. Once I continued reading I found that this was in-fact the calm before the storm, but it was a nice touch & helped lull me into a false sense of security, where I thought that maybe this was just a YA story, & not a dark adult fantasy. Boy, was I wrong!
Main character Constanter is a hard character to warm to; as the book goes on we find that she doesn’t have any empathy or guilt about those that she kills, both in revenge & in battle, & her complete disregard for other people’s lives put me on edge throughout. Usually when reading a book where there’s a war I don’t feel much for the victims of the protagonist’s wrath, they’re not proper characters so why would I care? But, for some reason I felt sad whenever Constanter killed someone in Seed of Rage; maybe this was because I knew Constanter didn’t care & that in itself made me feel that I had to, or maybe it was the complete senselessness of the battles & the overall war, so the deaths just didn’t seem justifiable. The arguments between rulers seems entirely based on land, & at the end of the book the ridiculousness of how much anger the male rulers feel over land is seriously challenged by Constanter (something which really made me respect her).
As stated in the synopsis above, Constanter is a girl that ends up posing as a boy; girl-dressed-as-boy tropes are seriously vetted in the YA community (I don’t know if they are in the adult literature community) but for me, Camilla did a remarkable job of presenting this theme. Constanter is mistaken for a boy after she cuts all of her hair off in anger; in order to protect herself & to not be forced into becoming one of the army’s “whores”, Constanter goes along with the mistake. Now this isn’t really a spoiler because it’s pretty obvious that Constanter’s secret gets found out; this only happens toward the end of the book though, & it’s handled really well. Often in these scenarios everyone suddenly turns on the character because they lied or deceived people – but in Seed of Rage, no one really cares that Constanter’s a girl (other than herself, but that’s to do with an old fashioned hierarchy of respect & power, & Constanter’s belief that she had proved herself strong enough & hard enough to be recognised as a man); she’s a good fighter & that’s all that really matters. I liked that about this book…. good job Camilla.
The pace of this book was something else that I really appreciated; things move really well & the character development felt realistic & was easy to believe & follow. There is a very minor (seriously, it’s almost non-existent) romantic sub-plot & I liked how much of a slow burner it was; I also loved that it didn’t change Constanter’s view on the world – she has principles & stood up for what she believed in, regardless of what was happening around her. I really enjoyed the pace of this story, it’s length & the plot. I was really interested in Constanter’s life & I wanted her to succeed even though I found myself angry at her for her lack of empathy for the people she killed. The ending was super intense & turned up the action by 100% – it was a fantastic & surprising ending that I didn’t at all predict – every time I thought I knew what was coming next I got it wrong, even after changing my predictions several times after different things happened within the last few chapters.
I can’t write a review of a fantasy & not mention the world-building – normally that is my main focus when writing a review, but there was so much more that I loved about this story, other than it’s Roman-esque fantasy environment, that I nearly didn’t mention it. The world this series is set in has some strong Roman feels, with lots of Roman language & weapons; the Roman era is a period of time that I don’t know much about, but what I do know helped reinforce the descriptions in the book & made it easy for me to imagine the fighters & the scenery. I was so wrapped up in this story that the scenes were easy to imagine, although there were scenes that I wish I couldn’t have seen so easily!
This is an adult book with the essence of a YA coming-of-age fantasy; it’s too violent & gritty to be for a lot of teens or young adults, but it was the perfect combination of brutality, fantasy world-building & YA themes for me. If you can handle books like this (similar examples are The Poppy War & Red Sister) then please do pick up this book – I’m gutted I don’t have anyone to rave about it to!
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com
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