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I’m doing another special book review on book one of the Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight, Resistance. This was a thicccck book, well over 400 pages but it didn’t seem that long once the story got rolling. Having said that, I may miss a thing or two in my content review, but I’ll try my best not to! I did write this post once before but it all got deleted, so yeah I’m hoping I remembered most of it. Also, there may be spoilers below, so read at your own risk.
The Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads)
“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.”
Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.
Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.
Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.
(Christian Fantasy/Clean New Adult/No Magic)
Positive Messages: There are a lot of positive messages in this book, so I probably won’t get them all. Some of them are also covered in the spiritual messages part of this review.
The book opens up with Rayad saving Jace, one of the main characters, sacrificing an important thing to him in order to free him. Even then, he doesn’t know if Jace will harm him or not, but has faith in him. He ends up becoming like a father to Jace, and remains loyal to him even when Jace pushes him away. He also helps Kyrin out, and encourages her to obey God, known as Elom in the story, and help Jace.
Jace for his part, is very kind-hearted, despite his outward coldness. Even when he pushes people away, he does so to keep them “safe” from him. He wants to help people, and sticks with Rayad even when he doesn’t want to go where they’re headed. Despite being a little rude to Kyrin when they first meet, he feels bad for how he acts and eventually tries to make it up to her. When they’re attacked by ryriks, a fantasy species in the world, they offer to let him go if he leaves the girl. He refuses, willing to risk his life to save her if necessary. He also loves his pet and takes good care of her.
Kyrin, the second main character, has a very close relationship with her father and twin brother. She loves her whole family, even when they disagree, and tries to play the peacemaker between her more hot-headed brothers. She’s also kind-hearted, often sticking up for younger children against bullies. When she meets Jace, she instantly feels bad for him and wants to help him. When he says he’s nothing but an animal, she gets angry and corrects him, telling him the truth about himself. She also risks her own life to save a friend and her brother.
A group of believers band together to form the “resistance”. Two other people accept Jace despite his blood, and do not let the prejudices of others affect their view of him. Multiple other characters risk their lives to help others. A father wants to rescue his son, even if it means his death. A young man wants to go to prison in place of his aged father.
Spiritual Messages: The major spiritual lesson in this book I feel have to do with staying strong in the faith despite inward and outward struggles.
Jace experiences the inward struggles with his faith. At first, he believes in God, but after experiencing some hardship and verbal abuse from others, he begins to doubt God cares for him, and believes the lie that he’s unworthy, soulless, and an animal. The lies begin to destroy him, but then God sends Kyrin into his life to help him see His truth. He even obeys the command to love his enemies by rescuing the man who treated him horribly.
Rayad, the man who originally saves Jace from a future of hopelessness, witnesses to him initially. He stands firm in his faith and often tries to help Jace combat the lies that he is soulless and an animal. Even when others speak badly of Jace because of his blood, he remains loyal to him and sticks up for him.
Kyrin experiences the outward pressures of the world which test her faith. As a secret believer working for the emperor, she does her best to hide her faith but also not betray it. When she is finally forced to go to the temple to pray to the false gods, she refuses, announcing her faith in God, and resulting in torture. Other believers help to free her and smuggle her out.
When she meets Jace, she feels like the Lord wants her to help him, and so, despite his rudeness, her own desire to stay in her comfort zone, and doubts that she could ever help him, she obeys, eventually resulting in a rewarding friendship and Jace’s faith rekindling.
Three characters are tortured for their faith, but do not deny their faith or betray their fellow believers. Three other characters die for their faith. One believer turns himself in during an investigation, in an effort to keep another believer safe.
The emperor orders everyone to pray to the false moon gods, Aertus and Vilai. People go to the temple to pray to them. Some people believe a wolf is “possessed” by an evil spirit.
Romantic Content: There isn’t too much romantic content in this book. Some boys flirt with Kyrin. Once she is forced to wear a dress that is much too low for her liking. A boy and girl hug a couple times, but only in friendship. A girl is forced to strip to her undergarments before being imprisoned. A woman tries to seduce a man in order to get him to give her information. Two men vie for the affections of one woman, and one of them steals a couple of kisses from her. It is said he asked her to marry him once. Though not stated at all in the book, I have a feeling there may be a romance between Jace and Kyrin soon.
Violent Content: Seeing as this is set in a Roman Empire like setting, there is a lot of violence in the book, though none of it is too detailed beyond mentions of blood. It opens up with a gladiator fight, but the victor strikes his opponent unconscious instead of killing him as the crowd wants. That decision ends him up pelted with trash.
A man comes across a young man being beaten. The same young man is beaten up multiple times in the book. The man rescues him, but fears the young man may kill him. He doesn’t.
In a military training camp, young trainees get bruises and cuts from their training. People watch as captured ryriks are executed. They also watch other humans be executed. A girl working for the emperor is almost assassinated.
The emperor sends men to capture a fugitive. They murder the innocent people who were housing the fugitive and burn their farm. A character spits up blood because of the smoke, his lungs not able to tolerate it. A pet is injured protecting his owner. A man has nightmares of harming those he loves.
Multiple people are tortured for their faith. A girl nearly has her arm yanked out of its socket. She is then put before a rioting crowd who throws things at her. A rock hits her head, almost knocking her out, and soldiers have to protect her on her way back to her cell. Another prisoner is beaten so badly his ribs are broken and he’s black and blue. A third captive has his thumb cut to the bone, and nearly loses his eye. A girl gets a cut lip. A man is nearly hung for hiding a fugitive.
Characters hunt and kill wild animals. Sometimes they are injured in the process. A group of ryriks attack a boy and girl in the woods. They hurt the boy as he defends the girl, but they kill all but one of them. One is killed with an arrow to the throat.
Soldiers are killed during a skirmish. Two characters are injured in the attack.
Language: There is no language in this book, so all good here!
Other Negative Content: While nothing happens, a boy and girl go alone multiple times into the woods, and one character even warns it could look bad. One character continually goes against the rules and argues with his family. Some men who are supposed to be “believers” beat up another man because he’s different from them. They are punished for this, however.
There are a few style issues I had with the book too, but nothing more content wise. You can read those below in my personal review.
Total Content Rating: 4.42/5 Stars
A friend told me about this series and really liked it, so I figured I’d ask for the book for my birthday. I got it and was honestly shocked by the size of it. I was not expecting it to be so big. Honestly, that, the fact that I haven’t read a fantasy since the Chronicles of Narnia series, and the fact that I’m not a big fan of non-human but humanoid fantastical creatures sort of put me off for a couple weeks as I decided to read some other books first. However I finally picked it up and decided to give it a shot, especially since it did seem intriguing.
The very first chapter really reminded me of the movie Gladiator, and I definitely got Roman Empire setting vibes, which is a positive since I enjoy reading about that time period. I will say after the first chapter, I felt like the next few chapters dragged a little, and I put it down for about a month because I needed to read the book for my monthly reading challenge. I could have probably picked it up during then, but I didn’t, probably because I was at the slow part in the book.
However, once I finished my monthly book, I decided to pick it up again just to finish it. And then it got good. Not to say the “draggy” part wasn’t good, it was, it just wasn’t as engaging. I read the rest of it within three days, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would actually.
Rayad’s my favorite character, and I hope to see more of his and Jace’s father/son like relationship in the next book! I did wish they could have gotten closer in the book as Jace’s character arc progressed, but maybe I’ll see more in the next book, I don’t know. Jace, one of the main characters, was pretty neat too; I did like the whole “half-blood” concept more than I thought I would.
Kyrin is okay. I have a harder time liking girl main characters than boy ones in general so it could be me personally, but I felt like she was a little too… I don’t know, successful at everything, I guess? But I still liked her, though I sense a romance between her and Jace going to happen and I don’t know how I like that… but I’m a no-romance person in general so that’s me again.
I did enjoy all the side characters, and thought they were all done well. Besides Rayad, I liked Daniel and Trev the best, but I thought they were all very well done and developed even for just being side characters, and some of them even hid their true loyalties very well, which made for a neat mini plot twist.
There were a few things besides the beginning that made me dock a star. I will say the main thing was, in a few places, I thought things were done too… coincidentally. For example, a character is threatened with torture to get another character to talk. The second character refuses to talk even though she doesn’t want to see the other person be tortured. The captor barely begins the torture before the second character screams, begging for God to help, and the captor suddenly stops and is like “I’m going to wait so that my boss can enjoy this scene too.” While I’m glad the character didn’t get tortured, and I do believe God can and will intervene if we cry out to Him, I felt like the villain guy’s reaction was a little… cheesy. Like would he have really done that, after all those threats beforehand of what he was going to do if she didn’t talk?
I also felt like some characters introduced early in the story were sort of dropped off? Namely, Jace and Rayad live near this village and we meet a couple people there that gave me vibes that they were going to be more in the story, and then Jace and Rayad leave that part of the country and we don’t hear about them again. Maybe in the next books they’ll be reintroduced or talked about, which would be nice.
The last thing was, there were so many characters. Now I don’t mind a ton of characters, and like I said, even the side characters were very well written. However, because of the amount of characters, I will admit I forgot who some of them were. Maybe it’s because I took a month-long break too from the book, but it was only at the very beginning and I don’t think I met all the characters who I forgot who they were until they were mentioned or showed up again, and I was like “who is that again?”
And also I felt like some of the characters got overshadowed when they shouldn’t have, such as one character who helped someone escape, then gets captured for doing that, and then the person they helped escape helps them out in turn. The two never got a friendly moment to say thank you to each other, especially the person who helped the other one escape originally. I felt like there should have been a scene where he got a thanks at least. But as a writer with a work in progress with lots of characters like this, I can’t fault the author entirely for this, as it can be really tricky to add enough stuff in but not overdo it, and this book was thick as it is, so it’s not that big of a deal.
In all, however, I enjoyed this book a LOT more than I thought I would, and will probably be reading the next when I can get a copy!
Personal Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thanks again for reading! Have you read this book? Do you want to read this book? Let me know in the comments below! Have a great day, and God bless! ~ Kay Leigh
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