Rebel Elements opens in a wonderfully South-Asian setting of rice-paddies and agriculture. The settings are evoked so beautifully that they immediately become realised in the minds eye. This is also one of the issues of the book, in that the author at times forgets to describe sounds and smells, leaning more towards visually rich descriptions, almost like it is being presented through a fixed camera angle, so much so that occasionally details are missed out that the writer seems to take for granted.
The lead character, Bayan, is sympathetically introduced to us immediately through his affliction; a burgeoning power that will make him a pariah within his community. An outburst of magic soon lands him in the clutches of the Empire and he is shipped off to a special academy dedicated to training duelists (warlocks). The rest of the novel then proceeds with Bayan struggling to fit in, to come to terms with his role within the Empire that he has hated his whole life and learning the art of the Duelist.
The middle section of this book resonates strongly with the Harry Potter books, with the dynamic of Bayan being a fish-out-of-water and his supporting cast of characters. But once you get past this similarity you find a book with interesting settings and good character development. This is an interesting read and with time and experience, Jasmine Giacomo will surely become an excellent writer.