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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord - An enthralling, rich Fantasy world from a unique perspective.

Today, I am reviewing the Fantasy story Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord and published by Mirror World Publishing. Seen through the eyes of a born slave, Sol, Gaylord paints the picture of a tyrannical empire that condemns its prisoners and conquests to death by combat in the eponymous Coliseum…where, once you enter, you never leave. Sol climbs the ranks, becoming a fighter of skill and renown, but when a special prisoner is offered to him as one of his victory prizes, he learns that the world outside is more enticing than he knows…but will he risk his life, and those he cares about, in a possibly futile escape attempt?

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!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Capering on Glass Bridges by Jessica Hernandez - A very promising first installment and a great Fantasy read!

Today, I am reviewing the YA Fantasy story Capering on Glass Bridges by Jessica Hernandez. Telling the story of Kaia Stone, a young woman who has grown up differently than the others she knows, the book describes how the Utdrendans send her and others into the cursed kingdom of Mar, with knowledge from years ago that may undo their horrific doom.

I give this book a 4/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 5/5. I enjoyed these characters very much. Hernandez did a fantastic job in creating an interesting interplay between the various members of Kaia’s party. Their back-and-forths were fun and credible, and their griefs and sorrows equally so.

Plot/Storyline: 4/5. A very solid fantasy adventure story. I think that Hernandez did a good job making her fantasy world interesting (a coming-of-age ceremony in which people are bonded to a homunculus-type being, for instance, and the magical power of Speaking). The effort is apparent, and she does it justice.

Flow/Construction: 4/5. I have no complaints here. The story moved quickly and easily. I can’t recall feeling like the scenes were dragging or slowed down. Again, a solid performance here. 

Spelling/Grammar: 4.5/5. Very insignificant, minor mistakes occasionally found. Nothing problematic or unusual.

 Overall: 4/5. Jessica Hernandez shows her talent in this book. I’m not sure if it’s her first book (but I think it is), and if so then she can only improve from here. I really hope there’s more to come!