In Savage Bounty by Matt Wallace the previously impenetrable physical and social walls of Crache are starting to look very shaky as the Savage rebellion gets louder outside and the troubles of the Planning Cadre and the Protectorate Ministry grow more fervent within. Book two of of the Savage Rebellion trilogy does not take its foot off the pedal, and if Savage Legion was right in your low / dark fantasy sweet spot, you are going to be very happy with where book two takes you.
Leader of the renegade Savages, Evie sets siege to the Tenth City of Crache. Every assassin in Crache seems to have been sent to kill her, and every battle feels like it must be their last before failure, but she has a mission—to free the Savages and show the people of Crache what their leaders have done. Dyeawan sits at the head of the Planning Cadre, putting her significant intellect into both maintaining her majority leadership position in control of Crache, while also trying to manage and survive the internal political workings of her colleagues and foes. Lexi has survived assassinations and political manoeuvring, only to land in the dungeons of a secretive family who have spent a the last thousand years attempting to regain what they lost. Like Evie Before her, Taru finds herself thrown into the Savage Legion and sent to the front. Only her pressing into the Legion is far more involuntary.
Wallace does a great job of escalating the conflicts created in Savage Legion and expanding on the world, while also setting us up for an exciting conclusion in book three. Getting to see more of the Planning Cadre’s inner workings and politics was enjoyable (and odd, at times!). The Protectorate Ministry just keep getting more and more comic book villainy–something I kind of enjoyed, for once–and I am really hoping that now Wallace has shown off the Savage Legion and the Planning Cadre, that we get to the see inside the ministry in book three. Savage Bounty does suffer from being more of a bridge between books one and three than a book that really holds its own, as I didn’t feel there was a beefy enough story arc that started and finished within its pages. However, it is of a short enough page count and reads at a fast pace, so you can treat it as such without heavy time investment or suffering world / story burn-out before jumping straight into book three.
Wallace was a little lighter handed in depicting the social themes of Savage Bounty than book one, trusting the reader a bit more to pick up on what was not written. Once again, diversity is a key theme, and I feel that the lighter hand used by the author made the conversations between characters regarding diversity feel more natural than they did in book one. There were also some excellent scenes with thoughtful commentary which would land with those interested in First Peoples and traditional land ownership–something that is a big topic in many ex/colonial countries, such as Australia (where I live).
For grimdark fantasy fans: once again we have very villanous villains which aren’t really going to scratch that nuanced antagonist itch we constantly chase, and this 2D nature was generally reflective of the non-Savage supporting cast. However, the POV characters are great fun to ride along with. Evie, Dyeawan, and Taru remain the three characters who captured me the most, with Lexi’s character seeming to run into the more ridiculous of villains taking away some of the enjoyment of her sections, for me.
Savage Bounty by Matt Wallace is an enjoyable book two in the Savage Rebellion trilogy, with explosive bloody action, dark political machinations, and engaging social commentary smoothly worked into a medieval fantasy world. I’m off to get straight into book three.