Resistance: A Novel of Aerdh by B.R. Sanders. ★★★1/2
In short, Resistance is about a bisexual elf and her girlfriend overthrowing the government. Now there’s an elevator pitch that grabs my attention!
Last year I read and loved Ariah by B.R. Sanders, so I decided to check out more books by the author. Resistance is their debut novel, which is set in the same world as Ariah. I had fun with it, but it never struck me the way Ariah did.
Shandolin is an elf in a city ruled by Qin. Although the majority of the city’s population is elfin, the vampire-like Qin retain tight control over the city. Shandolin is a rebel who runs an underground revolutionary press. She and her friends have managed to stay out of reach of the Qin… until Shadolin (Doe) finds one of her friends murdered in the street. The Qin have hired assassins to take out Doe and other elves who are resisting their rule. Luckily, Doe has the help of her friends and her girlfriend, Rivna, who is herself an assassin. The only way that they’ll ever be able to live openly again is if they organize the city to destroy the Qin’s strangle hold on power.
At a certain point while reading Resistance, I had a realization. This is the book I’ve always wanted to write. My senior year of high school, I started trying to write a novel length story about a bi elvish conwoman in a trading city filled with a number of different species, where she, her girlfriend, and her friends were trying to overthrow the local tyrant by means of a heist. I ultimately didn’t get even a third through the story. I may love reading, but that doesn’t always translate into writing fiction. So I am incredibly happy that B.R. Sanders wrote the sort of story I’ve always wanted – a queer, female led heist with amazing world building.
But for all that, I kept finding myself putting down Resistance and going to do other things. My best guess is that the heist and plot let me down. It’s relatively uncomplicated, without any of the twists and turns I love those sorts of plots for. On a more nebulous note, Resistance just wasn’t enough. I left it wanting more from the characters and story.
While I think Resistance is decent for a debut novel, it pales compared to the author’s later work. That said, I think it’s still a fairly enjoyable story. If the basic premise appeals to you, you might as well give it a go.