Savage Legion by Matt Wallace (Savage Rebellion #1)

They call them Savages. Brutal. Efficient. Expendable. The empire relies on them. The Savages are the greatest weapon they ever developed. Culled from the streets of their cities, they take the ones no one will miss and throw them, by the thousands, at the empire's enemies. If they live, they fight again. If they die, there are always more to take their place. Evie is not a Savage. She's a warrior with a mission: to find the man she once loved, the man who holds the key to exposing the secret of the Savage Legion and ending the mass conscription of the empire's poor and wretched. But to find him, she must become one of them, to be marked in her blood, to fight in their wars, and to find her purpose. Evie will die a Savage if she has to, but not before showing the world who she really is and what the Savage Legion can really do.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Lameece Issaq (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
YEAR: 2020
LENGTH: 512 pages (15 hours 20 minutes)
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s).

SAVAGE LEGION deals with entangled systems of oppression and marginalization in a colonial empire which does its best to hide its wars from the citizens. It engages with classism, xenophobia, ableism, and transphobia in a complex way that understands these biases as tools of subjugation by empire, within and without their borders. Moreover, it does it in a setting where the connections between these bigotries make sense in how they would arise in this particular setting. The titular "Savages" are the epitome of the civilization’s hunger: people torn from their lives to die in service of perpetuating myths of rightness and hope. For all that, their underlying ordinariness is central to this churning machine of power and subjugation: those within the empire are tools to maintain its myths, those outside are irrelevant (except when they’re being attacked).

The core of the tangle of marginalization and bigotry is this: in the Empire, people should be useful and definable. Anyone who fails one of these criteria usually does so by being poor, disabled, refusing to declare a binary gender, or making too much noise to be worth leaving alone. The mix of protagonists means that there’s someone for all of these supposed failings, perhaps more than one. What they have in common is the way they impede the system or highlight its failures, neither of which is acceptable to those in power. I’ve become used to stories which pick one or two marginalizations and ignore the rest, or which treat them as individual problems which happen to coexist. Disability in particular tends to get ignored in fantasy unless it's the entire point of the book. That is not the case here. Not only is one of the main characters physically disabled, she's far from the only disabled character who is named and matters to the story. 

I’m intrigued by where this late-stage-empire story will head next, but no matter what it promises to be fascinating.

Graphic/Explicit CW for colonization.

Moderate CW for ableism, transphobia, violence, injury detail, medical content, genocide, war, animal cruelty, animal death, murder, death.

Minor CW for excrement, rape.

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A person with short, black hair and dark brown skin stands in leather armor, holding an axe in one hand and a dagger in the other. Behind them is a field of fire and corpses.


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