...Well-written and exciting, the novella sets up great things for a sequel, and is a good read in its own right....
Every year the city of Sunja holds a huge gladitorial championship. Trained and amateur fight to entertain the crowd with blood and death. This year an old champion, Baylus, who is tired of civilian life re-enters the games. But with the fights on and off the sands, the politics between the great gladitorial houses and a competition anyone can enter, what happens on the sands is only part of the story.
This is the story of the action on and around the arena, the people, politics, and pain that the competition brings. It is a gripping read, from the shocking end of the first fight onwards. The key part of this is the fight scenes, which are excellently written with fast action described in clear sentences. Most importantly, because we know about the characters, the politics and they interactions, it is not merely mindless action. These are people you can understand, support, and even, as the story goes on, begin to root for. However this is fantasy not history so, unlike in real-life, there are no female gladiators in this story.
Don’t expect the novella to end with a new champion being crowned. It only covers part of the first round and there are easily enough ongoing issues – politics between the gladiator houses, the fights in and out of the arena, bloodfeuds and character conflicts to drive a sequel. The author’s note indicates this is intentional, and asks about writing a followup. I was going to write and ask for one myself, when I checked the description and saw that there are now two sequels available. It seems reader reaction was positive.
For its creative world-building and well-drawn characters, fantasy fans should look this up. Action, thriller, and suspense fans may also enjoy it for the clear description of action and the many twists and turns the plot takes. Well-written and exciting, the novella sets up great things for a sequel, and is a good read in its own right.Rating: 4
Reviewed on: 2014-10-14
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