I give this book a 4.75/5. Here is my breakdown.
Characters: 5/5. This is the real strength of the novel, the best thing about it and what made me excited as I kept going. Gaylord has created a world populated by relatable, interesting characters that each have stories of their own – the stoic yet paternal guard captain Grall, the Spoils offered to Sol as victory prizes, the shifty and misunderstood Slink – even “bit” characters jump off the page and demand to be recognized as real. And they are. Well done!
Plot/Storyline: 5/5. By setting this story in the Coliseum, Gaylord sets himself up for a story in which we, the readers, are necessarily denied all the perspectives. It allows us to discover the world through Sol’s eyes, revealing secrets as he discovers them. I found the plot gripping and highly entertaining, and once I got into the meat of it I couldn’t wait to devour the book. .
Mechanics: 4/5. When I first started reading the story, I got scared – there are heavy exposition periods throughout the book, and, especially before I had gotten invested into the book, I was worried that the exposition would drag on too long, weigh too heavily. It did not. While I won’t claim that I needed all of the information that Gaylord shared through his “author voice,” none of it was boring and the way he wrote it was entertaining. Overall, the language of the book was high-quality, descriptive but concise, and I have nothing but praise for the combat scenes and the character interactions, both of which can be difficult for authors.
Spelling/Grammar: 4/5. Only a few typos throughout the book. Nothing of significant consequence.
Overall: 4.75/5. An excellent low-magic fantasy read, filled with rich, fun characters and offering a sobering look at hope and will. It was a pleasure to read, and, like so many indie books that I have reviewed, I found myself wondering why I had taken so long to get started on this one!. Thank you, Adam. It was a fantastic read, and I wish you continued success!