Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Review: Makanuele Rumble (Jekua #3) by Travis M. Riddle


Makanuele Rumble (Jekua #3) by Travis M. Riddle
Independently Published
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Ebook. 712 pages.

About Makanuele Rumble:

"Summoners travel from all over the world to compete in the biggest Jekua tournament in the Volukho Isles: the Makanuele Rumble.

Alani's sacred pilgrimage brings her group to bustling Makanuele at this crucial time. Her next stop is at the heart of the city, deep within an ancient crater. The Church led her along this path, but as the journey grows more difficult, she questions whether it is a path she wants to walk at all.

Meanwhile, Balt and Niona have been training for weeks just to earn a spot on the tournament bracket, but the competition is fierce. Facing savage Jekuas and harrowing environments, every battle may bring them closer to the champion's title – or else bring their journey to a premature end.

Yet as the group struggles with their inner demons and the mounting pressures of the tournament, greater dangers are prowling in Makanuele's streets.

This review will likely contain spoilers for the first two books in the Jekua series, so if you haven't read those already, you can find my reviews for them at the following links: 
Book #1: On Lavender Tides
Book #2: A Fracture in the Qwisdeep

Reading Makanuele Rumble was the most fun I've had with a book in months! It came at the absolute perfect moment for me to read. I'd been saving it to read in March closer to its publication, and I'm so glad I did because I went through a pretty rough February and this book really helped me through that time because it was just so much fun and such a genuinely enjoyable read that I was able to fully lose myself in. I just always knows that I'm going to have a great time every time I sit down and crack open one of Travis M. Riddle's books. 

Makanuele Rumble picks up right after the end of A Fracture in the Qwisdeep with Balt and Alani traveling around for Alani's pilgrimage. This time we are stopped in Makanuele where it is time for the Makanuele Rumble, a huge Jekua competition that Balt has been eager to compete in. Almost the entirety of this book centers around the competition itself and at 700+ pages, you might think that's overkill, but I absolutely promise you that it is not. Instead, it is an steady-paced, highly compulsive read that fully explores the world of Jekuas and immerses readers in a series of high-action Jekua battles and is filled with compelling characters that make it a lively read. 

As with the first two books, I really loved seeing Balt and Alani's relationship grow even more in this book. They've gone through some pretty tough times together, and here we can see them be what they really are–close friends who love each other, care about each other, and can move forward from conflict with one another. It was also really nice to see them interact with more people and friends as well. Seeing Balt and Niona's relationship grow in different ways has also been really interesting, and I've enjoyed how Riddle has crafted their interactions so far. Similarly, we see Alani meet up with an older friend, Aeiko, and it was nice the see her interact with someone new and different, especially since it is someone who she has her own confusing personal feelings about. Aeiko was a really welcome addition to the bunch; they aren't overly outgoing, but they bring a nice sense of normalcy to the bunch and have a very laidback demeanor that I think fit in well with the rest of the characters. We also meet a side character named Holly, also Aeiko's roommate and ex, and all I have to say about Holly is that she definitely helped facilitate some bonding among the rest of the group. 

The tournament was so much fun! I think this tournament really brought the entire world to life in such a strong way because everything really comes together with regard to the world and Jekuas. We've heard about all the competitions, summoners, Jekuas of higher levels and caliber, different areas people are from, etc. in previous books, and this book is where we really get to see it all. We get to see Jekua summoners from all over and we finally get to see what a real tournament looks like firsthand through our own characters we're following. This feels like a perfect mid-series book where you just get to hang out in this world that has been created. We aren't traveling much at all in this book so there isn't too much additional world-building in that regard, but I felt like this was a great break that let's us enjoy a setting while knowing there will be more world exploration later on. 

Initially, I thought that maybe getting the play-by-play detail of so many battles over and over might get a little repetitive, but I was very, very wrong. I was riveted by literally every single battle. I'm not entirely sure how Riddle does it, but he somehow makes each battle and Jekua incredibly unique to the point that I just couldn't help but feel excited, intrigued, and unbelievably curious to find out which Jekuas would appear for each battle, what they would be able to do, if any would be modified, how the summoners would handle them, and much more. This was a great setup for this book, and I liked that we really got to dive in and experience it all through each step from eliminations rounds through to the end. 

I also think this book was a nice sort of breather after how intense the last book felt. Balt and Alani had quite a bit of conflict in A Fracture in the Qwisdeep and I think this book worked really well for the overall pacing of the series. I could see where this might seem like a slightly slower one-off book in the series, but I think when considering the overall arc it works really well as a realistic cooling off period. Characters seem to be somewhat recovering from the past events, rediscovering their interests, and Alani is able to slow down a little and face the newfound challenges relating to the church and how she feels about her connection to the church and future with it. Honestly, this might sound a bit much, but I almost feel like this is one of the best plotted/paced/character-developed series I've read in a while. It feels very apparent that Riddle has planned things out for this series extremely well, and I look forward to seeing what else is in store. 

There is also major plot progression that occurs in this book, so don't let me make it seem like nothing happens because some big things happen–arguably some of the biggest things that are setting up for later books– but it feels mellower overall with the lack of traveling. All the subtle foreshadowing that we've been getting in the previous two books have finally really started to come to fruition and I'm thrilled about it. I love feeling like I'm finally vindicated that there is definitely something sinister and weird going on in the background of our seemingly happy-go-lucky pilgrimage (well... except for the attacks on the shrines, of course). I know it's somewhat obvious with everything going on with the attacks on the shrines, but the eeriness has felt deeper than that and has been growing. Some very big events happen in this book that really takes things to a new level, both character-wise and greater plot-wise, and it's made me that much more excited for future books.

I believe Riddle has said that this is a planned six-book series, and I'm really hoping that six books is enough to sate my appetite for this series because I really feel so close to it at this point and have been having way too much fun with. It's continuously captured me and always seems to help me take my mind off of other things happening in my life in all the best ways. It's hard to convey how I feel because sometimes because I say (a lot) how fun this series, but it really is more than just fun. This is a really close character examination of these two characters at an important crux in their lives as they go from teens to young adults and continue going on with their lives. Alani is moving into a really big potential future career with the church, and Balt is really getting a start with his summoning and leaning into this new particular path of being a more professional summoner. I cannot wait to see what's next for these two!

Overall, it's an easy five stars from me! It's out today in paperback, ebook, and it is also available as an audiobook if that's more up your alley. 

*I received a copy of Makanuele Rumble courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon

1 comment:

  1. I've got to start this series, before some publisher snaps it up, lol.