A Kingdom for a Stage is another satisfying dose of slower paced fantasy that discuses rebellion and colonization. Examining how we can rebel and what that does to us, A Kingdom for a Stage is thought provoking for everyone who is searching for an introspective fantasy. There is still plenty of action, but it’s full of an undercurrent of rebellion and ethics. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Jetta is a prisoner. A prisoner of the armee, a prisoner of fate, and a prisoner of her own madness. Held captive in Hell’s Court—now the workshop of Theodora, the armee engineer and future queen of Chakrana—Jetta knows she needs to escape. But Theodora has the most tempting bait—a daily dose of a medication that treats Jetta’s madness.
But the cost is high. In exchange, Jetta must use her power over dead spirits to trap their souls into flying machines—ones armed with enough firepower to destroy every village in Chakrana. And Theodora and her armee also control Le Trépas—a terrifying necromancer who once had all of Chakrana under his thumb, and Jetta’s biological father. Jetta fears the more she uses her powers, the more she will be like Le Trépas—especially now that she has brought her brother, Akra, back from the dead.
Jetta knows Le Trépas can’t be trusted. But when Akra teams up with Leo, the handsome smuggler who abandoned her, to pull off an incredible escape, they insist on bringing the necromancer along. The rebels are eager to use Le Trépas’s and Jetta’s combined magic against the invading colonists. Soon Jetta will face the choice between saving all of Chakrana or becoming like her father, and she isn’t sure which she’ll choose.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
One of my favorite lines of A Kingdom for a Stage is, “you think peace requires a victory”, because it so fully encapsulates the heart and soul of this series. Sure it examines the bonds of family, winged machines, and blood magic, but it also looks at the very real consequences of colonization. The ways that it becomes about victory requiring defeat. Where just leaving is never an option that comes to mind. A world in which peace requires blood soaked battlefields, not white flags.
A Kingdom for a Stage looks at whether people can be saved. Whether anyone is purely good or bad. It explores the nature of loyalty and being turned, against our will, into a weapon. In this world of ghosts, possessions, and miracles, do intentions and relative goodness mean anything? While this series, as a whole, is certainly slower paced than one might expect, what I love about is that it truly dives into the nitty gritty. There is plenty of action, but it always feels grounded in ethical conversations about the ‘right’ thing to do.
Everything comes at a cost and there may just exist a world in which we cannot win every battle. In which we have to pay for our weapons and planes with loved ones and loss. A Kingdom for a Stage is all about what people will do when they think they are in the right, when they think they are doing good. But how can they see the bombs falling, the corpses on the forest floor, and the hatred in people’s eyes and not see their own culpability?
Rebellion, fighting for our right to existence, can wear us down. The effort of stoking a fire throughout a storm. Will this experience fundamentally change Jetta? It becomes incredibly clear it already has, but will the essence of Jetta survive? We all have our roles, our places to be, but where does that leave us when we go to sleep at night? All the crimes we perpetuate in the name of survival, as orders on pieces of paper, and the boundaries between us and them we want to believe are solid. A Kingdom for a Stage is a wonderfully thoughtful sequel that echoes conflicts of our past.
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