‘A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt’ – Numoeath #1 by M. H. Thaung

When infectious paranormal powers aren’t a gift but a threat to society, a man’s conscience leads him into increasing trouble as he opposes a corrupt official.

Convoy captain Jonathan has a guilty secret: he killed a traveller who was cursed while under his protection. The killing wasn’t to defend the innocent, but to hide governmental employment of curse victims—like Jonathan—who have developed paranormal powers.

To assuage his guilt, he bends the rules to help another, younger victim. His growing fatherly affection for her leaves him vulnerable to pressure from an unethical researcher. Can he navigate the bureaucratic web, do his duty and still keep his conscience intact?

Reading ‘A Quiet Rebellion: Guilt’, the first book in a Numoeth speculative fiction trilogy, reminded me of how I used to feel when I was reading a new story from Vonda McIntyre: partly fascinated by the strange new world being described and partly angry at the abuse of power in that new world but mostly curious about what would happen next.

From the first page, I was dropped into the action, a Captain and his guards trying to safeguard a convoy of people travelling across country on foot. The travellers are nervous because one of them was killed during a beast attack five days earlier. The herbalist with the convoy is feeling guilty because she wasn’t able to save the man the beasts injured. The Captain is feeling guilty because he knows that he was responsible for the man’s death.

As the action in the convoy unfolded I was given a temptingly fragmented picture of the world they were living in. There were hints at secrets, personal and political, of non-human threats and of a long-established, centrally managed society that has lost some of its history.

The story follows the Convoy Captain as he returns to the Capital and the herbalist as she settles into her new village. These two characters are very different from one another but very easy to relate to. Following them both gives a capital city and a country view of the world that provided some strong contrasts, deeper context and set up possibilities for future conflict.

As I found out more about the beasts and the Captain’s secret and how he and people like him are being used by the state, I became completely immersed in this world. This did what I want speculative fiction to do, it stimulated me to speculate on how things got to be how they are and how the conflicts in the society will be resolved while getting me invested in the welfare of the main characters.

The book reads more like the pilot for a series than like a standalone novel. The ending isn’t a cliffhanger but it does throw in a big enough change that you know the lives of the main characters are going to be disrupted and the status quo will be challenged. Their way I could stop at the end of the first book. I need to know what happens next. Fortunately, the rest of the trilogy is available and I’ll be moving on to read book two, ‘A Quiet Rebellion: Restitution‘ as soon as possible.

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