My favorite parts of The Rebels of Goldinvolved the Perfect Chimeras coming into being due to Arianna’s building and sharing of the Philosopher's Box. It was great to see her return to the Rivet’s Guild where she lived with her master before she became the White Wraith. I enjoyed learning more about the mysterious woman’s past and what made her tick. It was also really impressive to me that she managed to create a gun that destroys Dragon’s Coronas while in the midst of producing Perfect Chimeras, uncovering a traitor in their midst, and traveling back and forth from Nova.
Despite her trips up to Nova, I was very disappointed that Arianna and Cverah had so little interaction in this novel. Their relationship was one of the biggest attractions in this series, and to see it reduced to so little actual time was disheartening to me. Plus, it did not help matters that what minute interaction they had was spent on not communicating their true feelings and/or having sex. Arianna’s insecurity about their future together and being left behind by both Cverah and Florence in their new roles also really undercut her typical bad-ass persona that meets any and all danger head on.
I would have gladly traded much of the time spent with Florence for more time with Arianna and Cverah, as I greatly disliked all of Florence’s development. The previous novels in the series really showcased Florence coming into her own by learning that not belonging to any particular guild gave her a unique strength that others didn’t have. So it made zero sense to me that Florence ended up becoming the actual Vicar of the Revolvers in this story, something which undercut all this growth and self-inflection of the previous novels. This decision was bizarre, as Florence had no experience leading a rebellion, barely knew how to fight, and had little training as a revolver in any official capacity. So for her to suddenly become not only the Vicar Revolver, but a threatening and bloodthirsty woman that even Arianna was wary of, seemed very sudden. To make matters even worse, Florence's burgeoning romance with Shannra was equally frustrating to me, as the woman appeared to be a violent spy for King Louie due to the prologue, where Florence draws a weapon on the seemingly threatening woman.
Because of this portrayal, the whole time Florence and Shannra were being romantic, I wrongfully expected the woman to turn on Florence, something reinforced by Arianna’s expressed suspicion of the woman. That alone made me dislike the character the whole way throughout The Rebels of Gold. Plus, on top of this never-happening betrayal, Shannra didn’t have any independent actions. She was only around when Florence was there, making her a completely flat and uninteresting character known for only three things--her beauty, supposed skill as a revolver which we never really see, and her supposed feelings for Florence. I was also confused about the fact Florence confessed romantic feelings to Arianna while dating Shannra, making it seem like she would have left the woman should Arianna return her feelings. Ultimately, the whole relationship just felt forced and like a waste of time.
This time could have been better spent on the actual boss fights of the novel. Yveun, the king of dragons who was built up as extremely frightening, powerful, blood thirsty, and dangerous went down in mere paragraphs. The same is true for his mate, Coletta, and his lover, Fae. This was especially strange as Coletta was a shadow master dragon, capable of using poisons and espionage to take down any that stood in her path--including battle-hardy Petra in The Dragons of Nova. Even more astonishing was Fae's easy defeat. Fae was the first perfect dragon made by harvesting and transplanting different dragon houses organs’ into a new killing machine--the dragon’s answer to combating the newly forged perfect chimera Fenthri. Instead, Fae is finished off by Florence and her unlikable girlfriend, Shannra, in a matter of minutes. This easy defeat of Fae, who was a killing machine even before becoming a Perfect Dragon, seemed unreal after months of failed experimentation on dragons by Coletta to create this more powerful and unstoppable Perfect Dragon.
Like I was with the easy defeat of the big bads of the novel, I was similarly disappointed that some of the loose ends of the series weren’t tied up. For instance, it was stated countless times that imbibing, or consuming the blood and magic from a living individual was extremely dangerous and would have dire consequences for those involved. This is something that Cverah and Arianna had done multiple times in every novel! I was expecting there to be some repercussions for this severe and taboo behavior, especially with the foreshadowing in The Dragons of Nova that Arianna would be the death of Cverah and his entire house. Instead, neither situation amounted to anything.
While Arianna isn’t the death of Cverah at all, she did lead him to leaving behind the title of King of Dragons and coming to live on Loom with her. I really was not pleased with this ending. Cverah always put his family and its needs first, and I felt he would have stayed Dragon King in honor of his late sister, Petra. Plus, I felt he would have stayed on to ensure that the treaty with Loom was upheld as per Arianna’s wishes. To me, Arianna should have kept her position as Queen of Wraiths, hunting down illegal Dragon harvesters and reporting to Cverah as a liaison of sorts between worlds. After all, a huge part of Arianna’s growth as a character involved her learning to see dragons and Nova in a new light. It also would have allowed her to keep up her nomadic and dangerous lifestyle. I would expect Cverah would ask her to stay on Nova as his mate every time she visited and she would tell him, “some day.”
Instead the conclusion that was given, that Cverah faked his own death, giving up his position when he cared for his people so much and could have ensured their safety as the leader of not only his house, but also as the King of dragons--seemed really silly to me. From The Alchemists of Loom on, he started as a dragon with incredible power, kept in the shadows to appear as a non-threat to other dragons so he could help his sister and house in a secret rebellion. So it was huge in The Rebels of Gold for him to come into his own by revealing his true strength by actually killing his traitorous older brother and the King of Dragons respectively. So for Cverah to give up three books worth of progress from the shadows to King of Dragons, to live with Arianna in Loom felt rushed and wrong.
Alternatively to my dislike with the epilogue, I really did like how Arianna used her boon at last. Instead of using it in a destructive manner, as she originally intended, she used it save Cverah’s life. It really shows how far she has come from the dragon hating Wraith of the first novel. I almost wished that the novel had just ended right there with that scene instead of with the overly happy epilogue.
Ultimately, I did not like how the Loom Saga came to an end in The Rebels of Gold. The development of the characters was not very fitting, the battle scenes were anticlimactic, and the ending felt unbelievable for the characters I’d come to know and love. I’d recommend this book if you liked the previous two entries in the series, but do not expect to enjoy The Rebels of Gold as much as the others. I am definitely glad I know how the series came to an end, but I was not too happy with how it did.
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