The Collar and the Cavvarach

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The Collar and the Cavvarach (Krillonian Chronicles Book 1)

Last Free Dates: 20th Feb 18 to 23rd Feb 18
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...A blend of fantasy, social commentary and slice of life, a must for YA speculative fiction readers. ...

Bensin has worn a collar since he was born, the consequences of being a slave in the Empire. His life’s goal is to free his sister, but standing in the way is a cruel owner, his lack of education, and a society that doesn’t encourage ambition in their lower class. His only skills are a quick wit and his training in the competitive martial art of cavvara shil.

This was a good book, tailored for the YA market, but with enough depth to appeal to adult readers. It is the start of a series, and the first chapter of the second book is included, which was enough to make me curious about getting the sequel. It is obvious that all of Bensin’s problems haven’t been solved by the first book. There are always new goals to reach for, and old enemies don’t vanish.

The world slightly confused me: the civilisation is similar to ours with a similar technology level, but the culture is completely different with empires, public gladiatorial games, and slavery. Imagine if the Roman Empire had never fallen, and you’re getting close to this. The martial arts scenes are well-described, though frustrating at points as Bensin lets people get under his skin, and he’s good but not invincible. I did find the rules a little unclear, but it is easy to let that pass, as the action is exciting enough to keep things moving.

The characters come across clearly, and most have depth even though we generally only see them from Bensin’s point of view. He’s a normal teenage boy not perfect by any means, and makes mistakes which a reader can often see coming but understand as the background makes it clear how desperate he is. His sister annoyed me briefly until her age was revealed, when it became clear this is an author with an appreciation of age- appropriate development. She’s five, and completely uneducated. It is also clear they are not afraid to cover just how wrong slavery is: no punches are pulled over Bensin earning lashes and the fact his five-year-old sister could suffer the same. While Bensin’s constant lies to people who could help him became irritating after a while, it is very easy to see why he learned not to trust so early. Coach Steen is a standout character: the conflict between his desire to be a good man and owning a slave which he can’t afford to free is well done, and as the story progresses, it shows how easily someone can become reliant on easy help and let their principles slip.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It is original, well-written, and had no typos or grammar errors. A blend of fantasy, social commentary and slice of life, it was an enjoyable read, and a good way to bring in the new year. A must for YA speculative fiction readers.

Rating: 4
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jessica (16 January 2018)
I really liked it:D! The sequel chapter didn't make me think well of the Coach though::unsure::

Belle (18 January 2018)
As a fan of all things martial art, I will definitely be getting this book. The story sounds like a very interesting read. I love any story of inspiration, hope and ultimate triumph over one's circumstances.

natalie (24 January 2018)
Throughout most of the review I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to fork over the money for this, but once I read, "this is an author with an appreciation of age- appropriate development," I was completely sold. Thanks for the review!

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