Robert Roth’s Rise of the Renegade Child is an electrifying thrill ride packed with complex characters, breathless action, and smart, queer sensibility.
Some sequels serve only to bridge the gap between the first and last book of a trilogy. Rise of the Renegade Child isn’t one of those. Yes, it picks up after the end of the first book and leaves off on another cliffhanger. But nearly every page is filled with engaging character development, intense action, or both.
Roth has a knack for characterization, bringing together a diverse cast where even the tropey-est characters still have an intriguing sense of depth. It’s fitting that the characters are more than one-dimensional in a series built around multidimensional travel. I also enjoyed the new characters Roth added to the cast. Ella is a new favorite, offering a grounded newcomer perspective that might’ve been lacking otherwise. And Tarnyl very much gives me pleasing Spock meets Legolas vibes.
And it’s clear how much the events of the first book, Into the Lightning Gate, impacted the cast. They’re affected. And nearly every character finds themself facing a sea of morally gray choices, rolling through the punches while being forced to choose between imperfect options. That’s not to say everyone’s choices are always unexpected. But it’s nice to see characters you’ve grown to know and enjoy become even more of themselves. Also present is the series’ strong queer rep, with the main cast comprised of multiple queer characters and Roth’s continued use of they/them pronouns both for enby characters and characters whose gender isn’t known.
But if you came for the characters, you’ll stay for the action. Roth’s pacing is swift and steady. The POV shifts between a handful of the leading players with every chapter. The final act, comprised of a series of short chapters bursting at the seams with action, feels straight out of a Hollywood thriller. Roth also introduces newer and more alien locations, building on the extensive multiversal worldbuilding from the first book.
Fans of Into the Lightning Gate will undoubtedly enjoy Rise of the Renegade Child. You should immediately start reading this series if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced, sci-fi thrill-ride series with diverse characters and queer sensibility.
This book contains mentions of kidnapping and torture and detailed descriptions of violent combat and death.