I loved this novel. Sign me up for the preorder of the second one, future me. I had better remember to. I had better.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Synopsis From The Book
What the Union of the North asks, they must give.
Even their lives
Seventeen-year-old Revna is a skilled factory worker, manufacturing magical war machines for the Union of the North. She’s disregarded for her disability and her second-class citizenship — and after she’s caught using illegal magic, a lifetime in prison looms.
Meanwhile, on the front lines of the war, Linné disguised herself as a man to join the arm, in defiance of her powerful father and the law. She is as good as a soldier as any of the boys (better, eve) , but none of that matters when she’s caught.
Both girls are offered a reprieve from punishment: Use your magic in a special women’s military flight unit, and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under the cover of darkness.
Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit. But if they can’t fly together and prove their worth to the war effort, their country will brand them traitors. And if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them… if they don’t destroy each other first.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
To begin with I was excited for this novel based on the premise. I haven’t read many books about pilots, thus this new experience causing a lot of hype I’m not sure I want. I have flipped through and seen the word dragon, leaving me questioning what it means exactly for I’m pretty sure there aren’t dragons in the series. Either way let’s do this!
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
There is a lot to unpack with this novel and I don’t feel like I can get to all of it without speaking on how much I need this series to continue. If the sequel is as breathtaking as this one was, I will have no complaints. This book is based on the women flyers of the Soviet Union who bombed the Nazis during WWII, which I still do not know much on but am interested in learning more about.
The Union, a collective of countries, is at war with Elda. The war has gone on for decades and it does not show any signs of stopping. What makes Elda particularly strong is their capable air force comprised of many different types of planes. They can decimate cities and towns, with their Dragons (large bombers) alone. What makes Elda so capable is that they use magic that interacts with the world called the Weave, while the Union only uses what is called “spark.”
Revna is a factory worker for the Union, with legs of metal (called Living metal) that were built for her by her father after she lost the ones she was born with. They are her legs but everyone always seems to see them as a “liability.” Her father got taken for making them for her, and she cherishes them deeply. When the war comes to her town, Revna is forced to use the Weave and to navigate through it to save herself and a Skarov officer (which are basically the big bad officers of information, and intel. You don’t piss them off).
Linné is a soldier in the army, having masqueraded as a boy for three years until she was discovered. She is the daughter of a major general, and wants to fight for her country in any way she can.
Both girls are sent to form what will be known as the 146th Night Raiders Regiment, the first all girl war group in a world where girls are not supposed to fight in the war. It is here that they learn about each other and their job as a pilot (Revna) and navigator (Linné). The war pushes both of them to make choices that question their morals, until they land in enemy land and have to fight their way back to the Union.
This is a Catch-22 for Revna. Since if she returns to the Union, no matter if she did not commit treason, she is likely to be convicted of it. She’ll die if she returns and die if she does not. Linné will not let her die.
What I Liked:
Pacing; This book was slow and for the sake of what this book did well a slow book was necessary. This book was about the characters, their motivations, and the ways in which they change. This is not an action plot story (although it has its fair share of fighting). This is a story about the girls, about their lives, and the complexities of war and moralities. It needed to be slow for the climax to be worth it, and I loved every minute of it.
Linné; We want to talk about a girl who cusses up a storm, holds her self in a haughty light, and plays with the boys, we get Linné. She is lovely, tough, rough, and honorable. She understands emotions, but she also understands death. She understands the horrors of war, which results in her being ostracized from the other girls. She is a war made soldier, sent into a camp with girls who have never been to battle and I can not blame her for how she acts to them. She will defend them, but she will not coddle them. She holds them to a standard that she never articulates to any of them making her come across as a cold hearted person. However she does care, she just feels as if she is alone in the world. And with her father as a General who never cared for her, all her male friends discarding her when they found out she was a girl, and her unable to bond with the girls, she is. On the outside, however, she is a pretty awful person. Don’t let my praise fool you.
Revna; My beautiful ironed genius. She is a master at Weave magic, and has the world pitted against her. No one believes her capable because of her legs. And the government doesn’t trust her because of her father. She is in a world that would see her dead and be done with it, but she is a fighter. She survives, and she makes friends. She shows us the lives of the other girls outside of Linné and she opens us up to the horrors of the world. Revna goes through the most in this series and I want to protect her at all costs. She is alone, the same as Linné but in far different ways. She is also worth fighting for, as Linné learns.
Political System and Backdrop; This political state is interesting to me. The Union is filled with propaganda and rigid gender stereotypes. They have a section of the military, the Information Officers, who are dedicated to finding out all secrets and make people disappear. They are not good people to their civilians either. They are the “good” guy and yet are not. They are losing the war due to air supremacy, but it seems as if there are many other countries against them. I want to learn more about their politics, more about this rather dark country from which our girls fight. They seem more like the evil empire to me, than their opposing country and that could be because I know little about Elda.
Magic system; The Weave and the Spark. The way the Weave functions as a sort of path in which one can move, like a separate space connected to our own, while the spark is a power source that comes from the hand (to light cigarets or run a plane). Both are touched on little, enough for it to be important but not really explained. They have rules that the user understands but the reader does not, making this a soft magic system I can get behind. In addition we have Living Metal, which takes on emotions and creates everything made of metal. I want to see more of how it works and if the Weave really is dangerous to the world.
Cussing; This was what surprised me the most. In the book the girls are supposed to never cuss or swear. Boy can because boys have foul mouths. Linné does because she learned to, to fit in. It makes her stand out against the guys. And it is so natural I didn’t even notice it was there. She cusses and she goes all the way (even using a simple little word that starts with an f. Yes, the one that rhymes with duck.). It contrasts her from the others, all while being a “well obviously if you were in that situation you’d say that too” sort of thing. I appreciated this.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I’m not sure I can think of anything other than for it to be longer. I’m not sure I can wait for a sequel. I’m also not sure I want one. I’m always terrified of sequels when the first book has me so much in support. I suppose I can wait, but I fear disappointment. However, I suppose if I can read Linné cuss about something again, I’ll be happy.
Time Taken To Read
“But real life had surprises. Real life had Dragons.” – pg 4