There is an artform to not taking oneself too seriously, to enjoying life and putting a bit of humour into the darker situations. In this case, the situation is the fantasy world of The Alehouse Rebellion, the continuation of The Alehouse Wars by Michael Evan and JMD Reid. And you know what? It was great fun.
1. Thoughts on the plot
Okay, after book one, you wouldn’t expect there to be a whole lot of plot to continue. The walruses were defeated, the harbor seals won the day and had magical powers, and things were basically fantastic in the ale industry. But what would happen if the walruses weren’t really dead? If they got something that put them on an even footing with our magical seals? The seal society (and the ale) would be at risk.
As expected, this book took the plot of what would be a fairly typical fantasy revenge sequel novel thing (there is a proper word for this sort of plot, I just don’t remember what it is), and then supercharged it. You see some of the common fantasy tropes used in fantastic and hilarious ways. The ridiculousness of the first book is matched, and even exceeded. It does new things rather than repeating the events of the first book. Basically, it’s a wild ride and highly entertaining.
2. Thoughts on the characters
This is the next step in the life of our seals Matthais and JM, some couple of years down the road. As one would expect with a sequel, the characters maintain that kernel of what makes them the characters we know and love, but also gives them new challenges to overcome and face. In this instance, family life for JM takes control. I liked the descriptions of the new life that our heroic seal has to face. Not everyone can transition from hero to family life well, but JM seems to have succeeded. And then he embraces his new challenge (the walruses have returned!) with that same zeal of the first book. This sort of character depiction is consistent across the whole cast, and makes for a seamless transition from book one. (Which, incidentally, is very well done in terms of the plot, also, as the ending from book one makes much more logical sense when put together with the beginning of book two. But I discussed plot in the last point, so I now move on.)
3. Favourite part
My favourite pieces would have to be Bob, the dad-joke making narwhal, who seems to exist purely as a plot device from the authors. Highly amusing, all around. And then there is the AI that we meet later in the book. It’s like Marvin the paranoid android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, except the personality went in the complete opposite direction. Perhaps like the doors from the Heart of Gold ship, but perhaps more independently intelligent. Both characters were that perfect amount of ridiculousness to make this story extra fun (and satirical, which is the genre, so rather important).
4. Least favourite bit
Um…Hmm…This one’s hard. I enjoyed this so much, because everything was that great mix of fantastical, satirical, serious and amusing. Honestly, if I can even think of a critique, it’s going to be pretty minor, so I shall instead just say I liked it. A bunch.
Overall, The Alehouse Rebellion is a pretty perfect continuation of the satirical fantasy book The Alehouse Wars. I had a great time with the characters and the story and really can’t think of a reason why you shouldn’t read this book about walruses and seals and science and magic and whatnot. Absolutely entertaining.