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Fearsome Destiny: Brothers and Sisters
Joseph Amiel, author
VICTORY COULD GAIN THEM THE THRONE FEARSOME DESTINY: BROTHERS AND SISTERS is the thrilling saga of a boy, Gallin, and a girl, Alexine, lifelong friends, who escape an assassin on their shared 17th birthday only to face mortal danger on a different world, but also the prospect of greater power and purpose than they could have ever imagined. It is the first book in the FEARSOME DESTINY series. Dropped into a strange version of London in the 1770s, they join the crowd outside Westminster Abbey viewing the national 17th birthday celebration of the king's son and the latter's future bride. Shockingly, the two look exactly like Gallin and Alexine, who must go on the run to evade arrest for the capital crime of impersonating royalty. When captured, Gallin cleverly evades their execution by claiming the ancient right of Trials by Combat against their look-alikes, death duels to become sole heirs to the king and queen. They have only a month at the Royal Academy to learn the lethal combat skills their foes have trained in there for years. The increasingly deranged tyrant king has own reasons for their elimination and, in that effort, reveals to a populace kept ignorant for centuries much of the ruling class's astonishing secret technology. The battles shift from London's palace and alleys to a TV spectacle fought with swords in mid-air over Philadelphia, the city where their new friends, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, are debating independence from the Crown. As dark mysteries hidden in the past unravel and their alliances shift, Gallin and Alexine are plunged into the perils of an American Revolution far different from what they studied in school.
Reviews
Amiel’s creative Fearsome Destiny young adult series launch is a grab bag of history, dimensional travel, teen drama, and suspense. Gallin and Alexine, two modern-day 17-year-olds, are stalked and trapped by an assassin. Then a device given to Gallin by his guardian (previously slain by the same assassin) whisks them to 1776 London on the planet Eratha, a 1984-style dystopia where members of the Noblic class secretly fly in stealth aircraft and manipulate the populace through television while medievalesque peasants farm with oxen. Gallin and Alexine discover they are the identical twins of Prince Ro-Gall and his fiancée, Ra-Alex, and were sent to Earth as newborns because of a law requiring Noblic younger twins to be killed. The clever teens, recalling what they learned about medieval law, claim to be the older twins and demand a trial by combat to prove that they are in the right. They manipulate the evil King Groghor into holding the event in Eratha’s Philadelphia, where revolution is brewing and the Noblics hold little sway.

Science fiction combines with a juiced-up history lesson in this peculiar but charming novel. Students of history will enjoy rummaging through the pile of cultural references and spotting differences between Earth and Eratha: on the latter, the Venus de Milo’s arms remain intact, and, instead of the mad king George, the even more tyrannical Groghor rules an England threatened by global warming and wealth inequality.

It’s fun to cheer on Gallin and Alexine as they snipe at their obnoxious siblings (“You may be marrying the prince someday,” Alexine says to Ra-Alex, “but I’m willing to bet you’re about as popular around here as head lice”) and embark on intensive combat training while discovering psychic powers, though characterization is limited to what will drive the plot. The book’s clunky elements are balanced by combat in anti-gravity belts, the wacky machinations of the king and his enablers, and the leads’ interactions with Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.

Takeaway: A spoonful of suspenseful science fiction makes this YA American Revolution history lesson go down smoothly.

Great for fans of Jasper Fforde, Gail Carriger.

Production grades
Cover: C
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B

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