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The Two Doctors Review

The Two Doctors Review analyzes books and board games of all shapes and sizes. We’re fair yet critical, though we believe value rests in every story told and every game designed. Feel free to reach out to us for a review!

A Worthy Analogy of the Revolution

Rise: Birth of a Revolution, by Mark Moore, intrigued me because it sounded similar to a project I’m writing. The American Revolution is a topic ripe for exploration through fiction, both through traditional historical fiction and through less orthodox approaches. Hamilton, the upstart Broadway musical, comes to mind as the most infamous re-imagining of our country’s formative years.

Rise explores themes of revolution through a fictional setting. England’s counterpart is the nation of Braiton: their colony, Riccha, is the American counterpart. Through this setting, readers follow a man named Damien Flynn as he navigates the rebellious rumblings occurring in Riccha. Readers also follow the tales of a number of other characters on both sides of the conflict.

Overall, Rise: Birth of a Revolution is a strong, character-driven narrative that will entertain a wide variety of readers. If you love historical fiction, you’ll enjoy the parallels throughout the story to real world events from the American Revolution. If you love fantasy, you’ll enjoy the careful and deliberate worldbuilding accomplished by Moore. If you just love fiction, Rise includes romance, action, adventure, and thrilling conspiracies all inside its pages.

The writing is solid, though it falls into over-explaining mode at times. My only major fault in the story comes in the book’s approach to the “Native American” counterparts portrayed on the page in the second half of the story. I felt like the narrative to easily pushes a few common “savage” stereotypes upon the culture (Verundi, I believe they’re called) which acts as the Native Americans of the continent on which Riccha resides. While those perceptions could be purely through the perspectives of the characters, some of the actions they take too seem to be easily portraying them in a sour light.

For better or worse, people of the real American Revolution and the late 1700s had very specific and often incorrect beliefs and perspectives about Native Americans; given the story is purely through the eyes of colonists and imperialists, and not through the eyes of the Verundi, a lack of nuanced approach to the foreign culture is understood. My hope is future installments in the series will explore the Verundi with more depth.

By the end of Rise, you’re invested in the characters and looking forward to where they’re going next. And a surprise twist at the end, something well outside the traditional “American Revolution” narrative, will leave you wondering in what other ways the story will significantly differ from its real-world counterpart.

And a quick note for the genre of Rise: It’s alternative historical fiction. It’s the second book of this genre I’ve read, after Empire’s Daughter by Marian Thorpe. I’m really starting to dig this magic-less “fantasy” genre; makes me want to consider writing it at some point in the future.

Writing: 7/10. Well-written, though at times it fell into the trap of over-explaining its worldbuilding outside of a character’s POV.

Character: 9/10. Loved Damien, loved Beckett, loved Jennifer, loved the King, loved Cromwell. And many other characters. The only character I really disliked was Victoria, and I think that’s intentionally written.

Setting: 7.5/10. It’s good world building, but there’s nothing that stands out as spectacular about it. I was also left unsure of the exact size of Riccha as a colony in comparison to Braiton or the other countries of the world. Still, the locales explored in the book felt real, and their counterparts were obvious.

Plot: 8/10. While obviously inspired by the American Revolution, Rise deviates significantly and in important ways, especially at the end. And as a character-driven tale, the “big picture” of the Revolution isn’t as important as the relationships between the characters.

Overall: 7.9/10. A clean four stars, great job, Mark!

C. D. TavenorComment