A really good first book in a new fantasy series.
I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next book in the series, which is expected some time this year. The book grabs your attention from the start and doesn’t let up until the exciting ending. The book is fairly long (480 pages) and I took it with me wherever I went so I could keep reading.
Lady Everleigh is orphaned at a young age and is sent to the palace to live with her cousins. She is 17th in line to the throne and after it’s determined that she lacks any obvious magical skill, she is relegated to the shadows and basically forgotten. She is assigned lowly, unwanted tasks that require a royal presence but are beneath other royals with magical skills. During a party attended by most of the royal family, her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen, as well as the entire royal family in attendance. Vasilia also attacks Everleigh, but her secret immunity to magic saves her life and she is able to escape.
Everleigh heeds the dying words of the queen and finds her way to a gladiator troup run by Serilda, the queens former personal guard. Not trusting anyone, she hides her identity and becomes Evie, with a personality that is opposite to how she’s lived for the last 15 years. Evie starts working in the kitchen, but is also required to train as a gladiator. Although the gladiators use their skills to perform and entertain the public, they are also highly skilled warriors. As Evie slowly starts to gain fighting skills and interact with the other gladiators, she starts to relish her new assertive personality.
Vasilia starts to exert her ruthless power over the citizens of Bellona and is pushing them into war based on lies. As the extent of Vasilia’s evil plans are revealed, Evie accepts her fate to become a fierce gladiator…and kill the queen.
I loved the characters in this book. Evie is a strong character and while she fights her fate, as most central characters do, she wasn’t whiny and weak. The gladiator characters were well written and memorable, even those with minor parts. While it was clear that Vasilia was cruel and evil, she didn’t appear much in this book and most of her cruelty was implied. The book is really well-written and although it’s clear that it is set during “medieval” times, there were also some modern touches that appear in the book. They weren’t enough to be distracting, but they are noticeable.
I really liked this book and highly recommend you read it.