Cover Image: Belle Révolte

Belle Révolte

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Member Reviews

“We were all nothing but lightning in a bloody bottle.”

Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the advance copy in exchange for my review.

This book is about two girls who switch places so that one can get the education she wants in the midnight arts and the other can follow her dream of training in the noonday arts and becoming a physician. And then they get involved in the revolution. 

I thought this book was so much fun to read! The magic system was super interesting. I’m always a big fan of “magic training” books, especially if we get to see different types of magic in the universe. I think it’s fun to see how the characters grow into their powers and how it develops the storyline along the way. The different things they were trained to do and how the training different along their chosen magical field was pretty cool to see. 

I loved all these characters. Everyone, even the side characters, were so interesting. And you have to love a really good found family story. I simple adore seeing a cast of characters band together and fight for each other. We could have so easily seen Annette and Emilie simply treat their relationship as a business transaction and instead we got a lovely friendship and a whole lot of them looking out for one another throughout a war. 

There’s a lot of diversity in regards to sexuality and gender in this story. Annette is asexual and she has explicit conversations about what this means for her. Another of our side/main characters is a lesbian and many characters we meet are transgender or nonbinary and many use they/them pronouns.

I really adored everything about this book and while I think the story ended wonderfully, I think this is the first time I’ve been sad that something isn’t a series.
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This ARC was provided for review, but in no way affects the following impartial and unbiased review:
Pros: A refreshing take on magic systems. Interesting world-building. LGBT leads and rife with representation and diversity. Immersive battles. Depicts a proletarian revolution in a fantasy setting. Romance took a back seat.
Cons: Jarring and underdeveloped beginning. Anti-climatic ending.
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I don’t read a ton of high fantasy because I have a hard time remembering all the new names of places and new ideas. It’s not impossible for me, but it does feel exhausting. That being said, I’m so glad I picked this one up! 

The thing I loved the most about this novel was how much beautiful diversity there is. There’s a ton of sexuality and gender diversity. One of our main characters, Annette, is asexual. This thrilled me, there’s just so few books with asexual MCs in it. Annette is also either panromantic or biromantic, which is awesome! There’s also a transgender man and several non-binary characters who use they/them pronouns. There’s a cute lesbian couple as well, which I’m always game for. Overall, the diversity was beautiful and felt so organic and I wish every book I read was like this. 

Another wonderful thing about this novel is how the magic is used. I’ve never read anything that wove magic and fighting so well. This was so cool. Especially how they describe Emilie using noonday magic to like open old wounds or heal people. It was so so so cool. I wish I could describe this better, but you’ll just have to pick it up to see for yourself! 

I did struggle a little with the world building, but like I said at the beginning, that just come with high fantasy and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. 

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a standalone or a series, but I kind of hope it’s a standalone. I really dug how it ended and don’t think it needs anymore. 

I highly recommend picking this one up!
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A sweet and sour epic magical story where society (and magic users) are restricted in very tight labels and customs so people who step outside of them have to fight their way through to live the lives they really want. There is amazing representation of lgtb people and a magic system with consequences to its use. Wonderful, funny but also heart-wrenching.
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“Power demands sacrifice.”

Belle Révolte is a stunning story about rebellion and fighting for what is right, about overthrowing an unjust ruler and uniting for a better cause. Loss is a central theme in this book, and since a war breaks out during the course of the story, death and violence are, too. Linsey Miller paints such a devastating and realistic picture with this book that it broke my heart at times. But then, there’s also magic and friendship and that makes it so, so worth it. This is such a powerful story and I’m so glad I got to read it!

I loved getting to know Emelie and Annette, the protagonists of this story. Both of them are strong and determined characters, both of them have a passion and a purpose and are willing to do whatever it takes to follow it. I feel like you’d love both of them, if you enjoy reading about these kind of “Slytherin” characters, à la Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince.

“I would prove myself, prove I wasn’t a disappointment or insult, and I would change Demeine. If the world wouldn’t give me the chance, I would would take it myself.”

I also just love how Belle Révolte is so unapologetically queer. One of the protagonists is biromantic and asexual; during the course of the story she falls in love with a woman (I adored their relationship)! Additionally, there are multiple non-binary characters, a transgender character as well as an important lesbian side character. Even after reading more LGBTQ+ inclusive fantasy books in the last few months, my heart is still beyond happy to see so many queer characters in a story. I’m truly thankful for Linsey Miller and the world she created in this book and for telling us that it’s worth to fight for what is just.

More than anything, I feel like what Belle Révolte wants to say is this: if you see injustice in the world, fight to change it. People might underestimate us, but we can turn our future into something so much brighter. And along the way, we might find people who understand us and who love us despite it all, and doesn’t that alone open up a world of possibilities? I will end my review with this beautiful quote from the acknowledgements:

“We lose people in life, but we find them, too, whether in books or the real world.”
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This book was so much more than I knew to expect. Based on the cover, I anticipated a little punk rock feminism in victorian France. What I got was magic, queer+girl power, conspiracy, espionage, and outright class warfare. 

In Belle Révolt, the practice of magic is restricted under a strong monarchy and class system. Women and poor people are barred from high level magic, and can only aspire to be 'hacks:' energy sources who don't learn to access their own power. Within this world, a young comtesse and commoner trade places, pursuing educations on their own terms.

The treatment of gender, sexuality, and race in this book are so excellent. There are a ton of queer, trans, enby, and ace characters, with they/them pronouns used casually and no deadnaming. There are several romantic arcs, and I adore them all. Though race doesn't seem to play into the class system, the character descriptions always include skin tone (including when they are white!), painting a racially diverse world.

There's a strong current of contemporary feminism in the story. Women aren't allowed to learn medicine, but instead of dressing as men, our aspiring physiciennes come as they are, making their skill impossible to ignore. 

There's so much to see in the role bodily autonomy plays in the story. I have so much to say about that that I'm just gonna say nothing. Read it and circle back cuz I wanna talk about it!

I did struggle a little with the worldbuilding. I've never been interested in court intrigue – and sometimes the descriptions of monarchy and titles read like a catalogue of ships. For me, I would have loved this to be in a little plainer English, though I suspect for more familiar readers, this hit the mark. There were a few rough spots where I was confused about the rules and language of the magic system – though I suspect these were errors in the ARC that have since been ironed out. 

Even with these issues, I loved the story, magic, and world enough to consider this a five-star read.

I had nightmares about this book – I mean this as a compliment. The book isn't scary, but it can be deeply creepy, and my brain has been weaving dreams out of some of the resonant, terrible concepts in the book.

I've woken up thinking about this book every morning since I started reading it.

And even though I have the ARC, I'm planning to buy the book so I can read the final edit.

The stakes are life and death, and there is death, abuse, and violence on page; but it's also a story about coming together, accepting people as they are, and being greater than the world expects you to be.

So I highly recommend it, and I'm also curious to hear if other readers have struggled with the some confusing elements as I did! Let me know what you think!
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Belle Revolte was a beautifully crafted, intelligent, and gripping fantasy. I loved the nerdiness of the book, the passion the two main characters, Emilie and Annette, displayed for their studies. Annette being biromantic asexual was validating for me as someone who's bi and a=spec. I also grew to love the supporting characters and appreciated the inclusion of a trans boy in the cast. The revolutionaries were easy to sympathize with since it's clear the current government is corrupt beyond redemption, and it was satisfying to watch the regime's power erode and progress to its ultimate demise. I loved the magic system of this world and the detailed descriptions of how the characters channeled and manipulated their powers. The noonday arts were especially fascinating, bloody but brilliant, and the midnight arts proved to be more powerful and useful than they first appeared. The last 1/3 of the story kept me on the edge of my seat as it felt like anyone might die and I wasn't sure who or when. The ending was satisfying and one of new beginnings for the main characters, and I didn't want to say goodbye.
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Belle Revolte is the latest high fantasy novel to spring from the mind of the one and only Linsey Miller. If you’ve looking for a novel full of excellent representation, then this is a book worth checking out. It was the rumor that there’s an ace main character that drew me to this book, and I imagine I’m not the only one.
Emilie des Marais only ever wanted to be a physician and failing that, a hack. It’s what her magic called her to do, but unfortunately society – and her family – were not inclined to listen to her calling.
Annette Boucher is a daughter passed over, with all of the family efforts focused on her brother. But that’s all the more reason for her to jump at an opportunity when handed to her. For all she’s ever wanted was to be trained in magic.
When these two girls cross paths, they hatch a plan. One that would allow them to both get what they want. But it is not without risk. But what risk wouldn’t be worth the chance to actually do something with your life?

“You are not the people who love you or the people you’ve lost. They’re just parts of you. You are so much more than you’ve been led to believe.”

Warnings: Belle Revolte may cover a fantasy world, but it touches upon some very real – and sometimes upsetting – subjects. These instances include gore, medical neglect, abuse, sibling death, neglect, and drowning. Just to name a few.

Belle Revolte was a fascinating and thrilling read, one that hooked me and refused to let go. I loved reading about Emilie and Annette, especially as the novel got further into the story – and the dangers they faced.
Okay, so I actually had a bit of trouble getting into this book. That was a surprise to me, since I was insanely excited to get my hands on it. But once I hit about the thirty (maybe forty) percent mark, I was well and truly hooked. So if you’re struggling with this read, just give it a few more chapters and see how you feel. It worked out for me.
Honestly, there was a lot to love about this novel. The setting, for instance. It’s a fantastical version of France, one full of magic, and of course, politics and expectations. That makes the perfect framework for the magical system, which intrigued me right from the get-go – and with good reason.
I also adore that this is a standalone novel, and thus is very easy to get into. Add in the amazing level of representation and consider me sold. I feel like a lot of people will be able to resonate with the characters in this book, so I hope that it really helps somebody out there.
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Emilie would rather be a physician than a noble lady and Annette would love for the opportunity to be trained in magic. So when Emilie approaches Annette and suggest that they switch lives she accepts. But when their nation decides to go to war the girls decide to help the rebellion find out the truth before it’s too late. Belle Revolte is a Prince and the Pauper retelling, both girls are swapping lives to pursue their passion. In a world that has magic women are supposed to learn midnight arts which include scrying and divination while men learn daytime arts which include medicine and weaponry. I was very confused for most of the book there’s two POVs Annette and Emilies and a lot of characters that they interact with, and it was hard to follow at times. Annette and Emilie are great in their own ways and I loved how determined Emilie was to succeed as a hack and to become a physician. Annette was also determined to succeed in the arts. Both girls end up taking part in a revolution to save their country. I wanted to like this book but I thought it was hard to get through. I found myself rereading parts because I didn’t understand what was happening. I did like the ending though. This isn’t a book that I would reread mainly because of how I was struggling to understand what was going on with the plot and characters. I wanted to like this book it sounded interesting, but unfortunately this wasn’t the book for me.
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Belle Révolte is the story of two young girls switching lives to finally obtain what they really want. It’s a story about girls going against the patriarchy to show that it’s not about your gender but about what you can do.

I liked how, for a standalone on the short side (380 pages), the author immersed us in the world she created. She succeeded in created a world well built enough without burdening the reader with a lot of info dumping. The author tackles important subjects as gender equality, privilege, patriarchy and how it fobides girls to seek what they really want to do. I especially liked how the privilege part was done. I believe the author made great commentary about how, the noble girls were still privileged even though the patriarchy kept them from doing what they truly wanted. Some of them were so rich they didn’t know how the commoners were living, how what they were doing could affect the others.

But I kinda wished the two main characters were more nuanced and more fleshed out. The only thing that really differentiate them was that one of them was a commoner while the other one was a noble. Their motivation and goals were pretty much the same thing and it was hard to know which pov I was reading from. I guess you can say that their stories started and ended at the same point. Even the conflict they faced during their journey was pretty much the same thing. They both made two friends, found a mentor, join the rebellion, etc.

It is something I also noticed about the side character. They didn’t have something that memorable about them and were more side kick than their own characters. I don’t know if it’s just me but them joining the main characters in their fight without really thinking about it seems a bit unbelievable for me. Or maybe I just wished at least one of them to be more reluctant, I guess I’d have felt as if there were more layers to the story. I wanted to see noble girls not wanting to throw away their privilege in a war where they would have lost everything and then change their mind when they finally see how bad the guys in powers were, you know? Because as I was reading, I just saw girls just agreeing with everything that was happening without any nuance.

However I liked the two mentors figure. I liked how they were written and wished I knew more about them. I also enjoyed the last part of the book which was quite packed with action and fight scenes, though I felt like everything was resolved a bit too easily.

Belle Révolte is an interesting story tackling important themes and showing that girls shouldn’t stop at what the society men built told them to do. It’s a story that shows that girl can pursue any goals as long as they want to. But I feel like the story suffers from not being a bit longer which would have been great to flesh out the characters.
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It was okay. I didn't really know what to expect going in, so I can't say I was disappointed. But I wasn't thrilled either. It could've just been my frame of mind while reading, and I will probably give it a second chance at some point in the future, but right now I don't have anything better than "it was okay" to say here. I still say everyone should read it to make up their own minds, but I'm not going to be shouting off the rooftops about it. Just a fairly average book.
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Overall, this book left me with very mixed feelings. There were some things I really loved about this story and some things that didn’t work for me. 

I enjoyed Annette and Emilie in their character growth, strength and resilience. I loved the strong friendships that Annette built and the relationship between Charles and Emilie.  I found the magical system intriguing and would be interested in learning more details of this world. Between the world building, characters and actual writing style there were a lot of things I really enjoyed about this book. 

However, there were parts of the story where the plot and pacing were a struggle for me. I felt some parts were a bit too slow. Then there were several sections toward the end where things moved so quickly that I found myself a little confused about what was happening and had to look back to make sure I fully understood what was going on. I just wish those scenes had been expanded on a bit more. Sadly, with the pacing of the story I didn’t get as immersed in the book as I would have liked.
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This book looked like everything I could want. I love fantasy & the blurb sounded terrific! Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to the hype I built in my head. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't nearly as amazing as I hoped it would be. 

Starting off, the writing style just seemed wonky in areas. It almost felt like there were more words than necessary in each sentence. The unnecessary words were incredibly distracting at times. This got better by the end of the book, but I'm not sure if it was better because I was engrossed in the story or because the sentences became more concise. 

Something else that felt off with me was the lack of differences between the two main characters. Emilie des Marais and Annette Boucher were too similar. Emilie is noble, while Annette is a commoner. I have never read a book where a noble and a commoner sounded the exact same. The words used, the sentence structure, etc. were all the same. There were times where I had to go back and see whose point of view I was reading. Even though the characters voices sounded the same, I really enjoyed the two main characters and the side characters. I liked seeing the relationships between all of the characters, and it was fun to see them grow. 

Though I found some things that I just didn't enjoy, I found other things that I loved! The magic structure in the story was fascinating. I enjoyed the focus on sacrifice and how using magic would wear the body down. The system made sense in my head, and it was interesting to see how the world adjusted to the magic system.  

Just like the magic structure, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. There was something fun and exciting about the story. After the first 20% of the book, I was hooked. The story itself was quick-paced and kept me on the edge of my seat. The politics that were present were frustratingly good, and I enjoyed how much the story grabbed me. All in all, this book has its faults, but the plot and magic truly made up for it. This will be perfect for teens looking for two (a little too similar) kick-ass women who want to make the world a better place.
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This book meant the absolute world to me. Every time I think it I'm just filled with this intense love and emotion. I could flail about this book forever, I swear. It makes me so happy (except for when it's RIPPING MY HEART OUT).

Objectively speaking, this book is far from perfect. I think if this book hadn't hit me on so deeply personal a level, it would have been a solid four stars. Not at all a bad rating, still very much a book I would highly recommend (HI THIS IS ME TELLING YOU TO GO READ THIS BOOK ASAP), but I do recognize it has some flaws from a purely technical perspective (that said I don't care, READ IT, it's gooooood).


- look there were some inconsistencies. not huge things, but a fair amount of little things. it might be that this is just how arcs are, I don't know (I've only ever read like three), but there were... more than felt entirely justified by it being an arc. It was sort of annoying.

- also if I'm being honest.... I was sort of confused by the plot half the time. I like... almost knew what was going on, but sometimes I wasn't entirely sure. I had a good enough sense that it didn't actually detract from the plot, and it is entirely possible that I was just tired and not functioning too well, but I do feel the plots just a little... weak in places. If you're a character driven reader like me, it's probably not bad enough for you to care, but if you're plot driven this probably isn't the book for you.


- the magic ahhhhhh. I was a bit iffy on it at first, because it appears to be gendered magic which is literally never cool, but then as the book goes on you discover that in fact that is 100% bullshit and society just made it up, and if that isn't god tier commentary I don't know what is.
Also I loooooved the way the magic had such heavy consequences. It really helped raise the stakes, and also was just such a unique magic system.

- as I touched on in my last point, there is a lot of political commentary in this book, especially on classism and gender roles, and I thought it was done extremely well. It might make you uncomfortable, but that's why it's so necessary.

- also the representation. The representation. One of our leads is sapphic and ace (!!), and the other lead has a trans love interest. There are also various side characters who are queer, including a few for whom they/them pronouns are very casually used. I can't speak for all the rep, but I thought Annette and Yvonne were fantastic rep, and they meant so much to me.

- the romances. Annette and Yvonne were the literal cutest and their romance made me feel so many warm fuzzies they were so cute!!! And Emilie and Charles... god tier honestly. The rivals to 'I don't like you but please don't die' to begrudging friends to lovers dynamic.... I had no choice but to love it.

- the friendships! I especially loved Annette's group of friends, who were just like... the literal best. I adored their dynamic. but also Emilie and Madeline and Madeline's brother were wonderful!

- .... basically just all the character relationships. the mentor/mentee relationships, the friendships, the romances, the messy familial relationships, everything was so messy and flawed and complex and I LOVED it

- also not to devote four whole points to character related shit but like... the characters on their own were fantastic too, just saying. Annette was just the softest bean, and Emilie was an arrogant snob but she grew so much over the course of the book. This is what I mean when I say I love character development.
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DNF 10% - Just not for me. I don’t like or care about either of the main characters. I also don’t really find the world compelling.
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Lots of LGBTQ, magic and character growth and empowerment! These two girls prove that with dedication and passion you can achieve any dream!
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I loved this book!! Great story!! Received this book from sourcebooks fire from netgally!! 1st book I have read by this author!!
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Belle Revolte presents an interesting premise with a lot of great class discussions and queer characters, but the rushed pacing and underdeveloped world building aren't enough to carry the book to its full potential.

The writing was good and there were a lot of awesome one liners about class and oppression that I really liked, and there were some scenes where the author's dialogue really shined in the form of funny banter. However, the two story lines were so separate it was sometimes difficult to connect the events of one with the other, and it also meant that I as the reader got much more attached to a certain circle of friends and characters instead of tying them all together.

There needed to be at least 50 more pages to the book. The beginning was SO abrupt that it took way longer than it should have for me to be convinced that these girls actually wanted to help each other. And there there's the world building. I understand that there is a heavy French historical influence, and I didn't have a problem with that, but there were some things that could maybe have been made a little more fantastical to make the fact that the book wasn't historical more clear. For example, the king's name was King Henry XII.

I also had a lot of issues with the magic system. The way that magic manifested and was used and channeled seemed to change from scene to scene, and not in a way that really made sense. There are physical consequences to the use of magic, but those consequences were very vague and seemed to also change depending on how injured the author needed the characters to be in that scene. How many people in the world are able to use magic? Definitely a large amount, but how common is it to NOT be able to use magic? Why is it that sometimes magic is purely physical, and sometimes they're able to slip into other peoples minds against their will? There are several scenes that offhandedly mention each of the girls going to class and learning about magic, but we never SEE it. I know the book wanted to go the more political route but those scenes would have done so much to elaborate on the world.

All of this sounds like I didn't like this book at all and I DID, especially the last third, but I had so many other problems that it affected my reading experience.
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Belle Révolte was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases. I absolutely loved Miller's other books, so when I heard she was writing a new story with an asexual main character (this was around the time her last book was released, by the way, which was more than a year ago), I was very excited. So when I started it, I was equal parts excited and scared, because I had no idea how it could ever live up to the hype I have built up for this book.

You know what? It did. It was everything I hoped it would be, and more.

So what did I love about this book? The short answer is: everything. The characters were so easy to care about and love, and by the end of the book, all I wanted was for them to live happily ever after. They were two very different characters, but they were both relatable girls, both wanting things society didn't think they should have. But they weren't willing to settle for what society gave them; no, they fought, and they fought hard, to get what they wanted. It was so inspiring and refreshing to read about two young girls who know exactly what they want and are willing to do anything to get it.

One of the reasons why I was so excited when I found out about Belle Révolte was that it would have an asexual main character, so I was a little sad when the asexuality played a very small part in the book. However, there is so much other diversity in this book (one of which is a sapphic romance) that it was okay anyway. By now, I've started thinking of Miller as the queen of diversity, especially LGBTQIA+ representation (read: Mask of Shadows).

Since Young Adult Fantasy is my most-read genre, it's rare to find one that feels completely original and fresh. But Belle Révolte is exactly that. The magic-system is unlike anything I've ever read before, and I found it to be very interesting. The concept of midnight and noonday arts being two different kinds of magic intrigued me from the start, and it was gorgeously written and intricately built. The plot was a bit on the slow side, but it was shock-filled with political intrigue, which kept me on my toes. Plus, it deals with several political issues, not only diversity, which makes it such an important story.

Belle Révolte deserves all the hype, because not only does it have great diversity, but it's also an absolutely gorgeous world with two kick-ass heroines, not because they can kick ass, but because they know what they want and are willing to fight for it. This is a book I'd recommend to anyone, but maybe especially people who, like me, are looking for more diverse fantasy.
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4.5 Stars

Book: Laurel
Me, every time: YANNY

OK, so I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, so of course any well-written novel that takes place in a magical boarding school (and magical university!) is going to win me over pretty quickly. Throw in half my other favourite tropes (characters switching places, fake identities, enemies/rivals to lovers romances, fun mentor characters) and some really great character relationships too, as well as an interesting (if somewhat confusing) magic system, and I'm smitten. Did I mention this book also simultaneously feels light-hearted while every so often punching you in the gut/making you stare wide-eyed in horror? (My favourite kind of read?) And that it's wonderfully diverse? And that the banter is great?

Yeah, Belle Révolte isn't perfect, but it ticked all the boxes for me.

The character relationships were probably my favourite aspect of the book. I love how both Emilie and Annette have complex relationships with their biological family members, and also form strong familial relationships with other characters throughout the course of the story. I especially loved Emilie and her mother's relationship, and Annette's relationship with Estrel.

Did I guess the twists? Just one! Well, kind of. I think. If this novel has one flaw, it's that it gets a bit confusing at times. There are a lot of names to remember, a lot of alliances to keep track of, and multiple kinds of magic, some of which are easier to grasp the nuances of than others. But it didn't bother me that much. I was along for the ride regardless, and what a great ride it was.
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