By: Christopher Russell
Series: Divinity’s Twilight #2
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Steampunk/Military Fantasy
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
WARNING: There will be spoilers for Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth
Content/Trigger Warnings are posted in the book.
“A phantom smile formed on Tabitha’s pale lips… “Magic-which you do put faith in-is much like a song or prayer. It is a plea ta da forces o’ the universe ta come ta yer aid and grant yer desires” … “Is there any purer medium for that wish than this? That yer loved ones may be joyous and blessed for eternity?” Christopher Russell, Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant
Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant is the second book in Christopher Russell’s masterful Divinity’s Twilight series. In short, this is how a series is done. Rebirth focused on the downfall of Darmatia, with the incredible airship battles, along with the excitement of the main protagonists, cadets from military school, thrown into battle and evading capture. Remnant picks up right where Rebirth ended, with the cadets trying to figure out where the Darmatian Resistance has fled. This book focused on in-depth character development, combined with Mr. Russell’s signature action scenes. We see further development of the magic system, how Lozaria has changed with devastation of the Sarconian invasion, and flashbacks scenes that add to the character growth. New characters are introduced, both protagonists and antagonists, who play pivotal roles in the book, and I would imagine in the rest of the series. Mr. Russell has the keen ability to write very real, relatable characters, exciting action, while eliciting a range of emotional responses from the reader. Remant was not non-stop battle after battle. The quiet moments of character introspection are just as important, and the change to action scenes become more visceral since we have come to know these characters. The action scenes are very different from Rebirth. Since Darmatia has been conquered, the citizen’s that are left are fighting what I would describe as “guerrilla warfare”. They don’t have the resources for an all-out attack, so they organize and strike in small groups, trying to disrupt Sarconian occupation as much as they can. This is far more realistic and played out very well. Remnant is an excellent second entry into the Divinity’s Twilight series.
The cadets, Vallen, Sylette, Lillith, Matteo, Renar, and Unter, remain the main focus of the book. We know Leon is being used by the risen Sarcon as his “vessel” to regain his full power, although all the others believe Leon died in battle. Most of them suffer from events in their past, few that we knew of in Rebirth. We know Sylette is angry and abrasive from the trauma of being forced to watch her mother die, and then being exiled as a child. The scene in Rebirth where her mother sings to Sylette as she is executed is one of the most moving and heartbreaking scenes I have ever read in fantasy. Knowing this, we can certainly understand that Sylette’s singular motivation is revenge against her father, Emperor Sarchon. Renar, once Vallen’s biggest rival, is hiding a big secret, the revealing of which ventures into spoiler territory. However, what he really wanted was to be an artist, and his talent is unrivaled. His cruel and unyielding father, General Iolus, would not hear of it, and Renar hides his talent from him. Vallen grew up in Sewertown, living with a gang and stealing to survive for both food and water. There are glimpses into his deep friendship with a young woman named Elaine, and while we know she dies, we are not yet privy to how, just that Vallen feels he killed her. It puts his arrogant façade into perspective. I enjoyed this character development that we didn’t get to see in Rebirth. As the stakes are higher with Darmatia conquered, they need to work together. In order to that, they must learn to let go of some of the demons of their past. It is through flashback scenes that Mr. Rusell calls “Idyllic Days” and other, less idyllic days, that we get glimpses into the past lives of the other cadets. These scenes help the reader understand their actions and what molded them into who they have become.
There are other characters that also play a major role in how the story unfolds. From the Academy is major Jis Reev, the Ice Queen of Darmatia, named for her extraordinary ice magic and fighting skills. Next is Colonel Rodale Holcomb, Jis’s former lover and fiancé, who has become a disgraced drunk, but he helps Matteo use his magic. One of the best new character’s is Mother Superior Tabitha, leader of The Way of the Will. She is the leader of the Darmation Church of Light, and “one of the most powerful people in the country-if not the world.” She is Jis’ “mother”, having raised the major since she was a child. Her arrival at the Resistance Base is pivotal. Tabitha is there to see Jis, but also to help the wounded, both in mind and body. It is she who helps Vallen shed one the weights he carries; that he feels he is responsible for Leon’s death. In her wisdom, she tells him he cannot take responsibility for the choices others make, and Leon made a choice. It is only then that Vallen can shed the ghost of Leon:
“That night, after everyone had gone to bed, the lights still off and the fires but ash and smoke, a solitary lantern labeled Leon in crudely drawn charcoal lettering reached the far end of the lake and started its travel to wherever it might go.
Find your peace, Leon. Find your peace.”
Christopher Russell, Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant
We are also introduced to new characters in the Sarconian Empire. Rittermarschal Auvrea Titania, military leader and the emperor’s lover, she is also the new Governor of conquered Darmatia. She is ruthless and cruel, and hiding secrets of her own from the emperor. There are others that we meet in the Sarconian Empire, then mentioning of some would venture into some spoilers. We know that the empire seems unstoppable with their superior air ships and mage-technology. Sarcon, resurrected in Leon’s body, is searching for a way to find his own body. Leon is mentally fighting Sarcon from completely controlling him, remaining sealed off in a corner of his mind, resisting the false parts of his life he shows Leon. Leon’s mind is strong, but it’s hard to watch Vallen’s best friend struggling to keep himself free and losing himself to Sarcon.
“The pain intensified. A pain that was somehow familiar, like it had been branded into Leon’s flesh over months and years instead of mere seconds. Screams roared in the distance: his false brothers calling for a doctor…
A blurry shape huddled over him, shrouding Leon in darkness. “Let go,” Archimas cajoled. “Let go and enjoy the dream.”
Leon’s senses flickered…hurling him back into the abyss of nothingness.”
Christopher Russell, Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant
The pacing and prose were excellent. The pacing was even and the character development was excellent. It is once again told in the third person narrative of quite a few characters, but it was never confusing. As noted in the quotes, one can see that Mr. Russell writes beautifully. As he delves into the character’s past, we feel their heartache, we feel their sadness, and we feel relief when they can let go of the past. The battle in Rebirth decimated Darmatia, so the fighting is much different, but nonetheless exciting. The Darmatians cannot hope to match the empire’s air ship abilities, so they rely on guerilla tactics. They are covert attacks on the empire’s forces that give hope the embattled people. This was certainly a brilliant and more realistic way of portraying the struggling, but not quite yet defeated Darmatians. I will say the final battle is absolutely epic. I am in awe of Mr. Russell’s ability to write gut wrenching, emotional scenes, and exciting action scenes that are all so different from each other. I love the creativity he used in developing the air ships that combine magic and technology. The magic is as it was in Rebirth, though we do see further development and training of the former cadets by Major Reev to fully use their power.
“After all, you were right, Tabitha, Jis thought, smiling as she stared at the emerging stars in the twilight sky, each a fledgling light slowly coming into its own. That brat was worth teaching. They all were.” Christopher Russell, Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant
Christopher Russell’s second entry into the Divinity’s Twilight series, Remnant, is another amazing and epic story. I was pulled in from the first page and it didn’t let up until the end. With Darmatia conquered by the Sarconian Empire, Remnant becomes a military fantasy with different strategies. Gone are the big air ship battles, as Darmatia’s were decimated. The citizen’s however, are not without hope. In a genius move by Mr. Russell, they now switch to guerilla tactics to disrupt the empires forces as much as they can. It was just as thrilling and exciting as the big battles. While much of the characters remain the same, we are introduced to new, pivotal characters on both the Darmatia and Sarconian sides. The character development was exceptional, as we delve into the past of many of the cadets. It gives us insight into the trauma that have shaped their lives, and how they are working together to overcome these obstacles. Many of them have heartbreaking pasts, and Mr. Russell has a way of running the reader through so many emotions as we peer into their lives. They are training with what’s left of the Darmatian Resistance, so there is still hope. For me, Rebirth actually focused on loss. Loss of friends, like Leon, and loss of their home, Darmatia. It was also the Rebirth of Sarcon, the evilest of the three brothers who was sealed away by the other two hundreds of years ago, as told in the prologue of Rebirth. Remant, perhaps the remnants of Darmatia, is about hope. The hope that lies with small bands of citizens fighting back, and the remaining forces of the army in a Rebel Base, training to take on the empire. I absolutely loved this book and the ending is epic. I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. I highly recommend both Divinity’s Twilight Rebirth and Remnant.
Power is a curse.
As Vallen and his fellow cadets flee fallen Darmatia, he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past. The friend who perished that he might live. The girl whose smile haunts his nightmares. Now, a third voice joins them—something dark, something ancient. And the more Vallen uses his magic, the stronger it becomes.
Tools exist to be used.
The flames of Sylette’s vengeance are all but quenched. With each passing day, the dominion of the Sarconian Empire grows, and her treacherous father’s throat drifts further from her reach. Sylette’s last hope is a coded message, one that promises a growing resistance against the Empire. But even if she gains the means to avenge her mother’s murder, one question remains: how many ‘tools’ is she willing to sacrifice to see her vengeance through?
What color is love?
Renar has learned to hide a great many things: his emotions, his art, and one truly devastating family secret. But when he must face the man who’s controlled his life from the shadows, will he choose the family he’s always known, or the dysfunctional crew he’s been shackled with?
For every ending, a beginning.
Embers of conspiracy flare in Nemare and Sarconia. A resurrected Sarcon plots to reclaim his imprisoned flesh. As the winds of war swirl and forgotten myths rise, the choices these cadets make could save their country . . .
. . . or unleash something far, far worse.
You can find out more about Christopher Russell on his website at: https://www.christopherrussellauthor.com/
My thanks to Christopher Russell for gifting me an eBook ARC of Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant.
Review for Divinity’s Twilight: Rebirth
Purchase Signed Copies of Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant on his website: https://www.christopherrussellauthor.com/shop
Purchase Divinity’s Twilight: Remnant on Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christopher Russell (native of Williamsburg, VA) is a 29-year-old mechanical and aerospace engineer (graduate of the University of Virginia) who has loved reading since the day he picked up a book and writing since he could scrawl his first letters. After voraciously consuming titles from every genre—ranging from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings—he decided to combine the expertise from his professional education, passions, and Christian faith into a fantasy epic bridging the gap between magic and science. He currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his loyal dog, Vallen, named after the protagonist of his first work. For behind-the-scenes information on all of Christopher Russell’s works, visit christopherrussellauthor.com.