Title: Sol of the Coliseum
Author: Adam Gaylord
Pages: 262 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (September 17, 2015)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.
With elegant prose, Adam Gaylord tells a fast-paced gladiator story with layered, multi-dimensional characters. Sol of the Coliseum is not your typical Hollywood gladiator story. It is a story about someone just trying to survive to see the next day with their humanity. Even though he is a famous gladiator, Sol (the main character) kills only for survival, has strong values (despite his circumstances), and tries hard to keep his humanity, which I admired.
The author’s skilled prose made reading great fun (despite the small smart phone screen I read on). When Sol must fight in the Coliseum, the fights are detailed and descriptive with Sol more often than not having a clear strategy in mind for how he and his fighting partner (K’nal) are going to survive.
I am giving Sol of the Coliseum 4.5 stars, but there were just several small things that were preventing me from giving the extra half star. While the majority of the book was very suspenseful and action-packed, the beginning got off to a slightly slow start, so I had to power through for a small stretch before things started to pick up. However this wasn’t too much of a problem because the author took that time to help the reader gain a better understanding of Sol’s world and its inhabitants. Also I would’ve liked to see more character motivations/objectives/goals. Does Sol really want to escape or just live to see another day? Why is Lysik the evil sadistic assassin that he is? Why does he serve the empire and how did he come into its service?–since I don’t see a clear motive for his homicidal streaks other than that he is clearly insane, does he have some secret backstory or history?
On a positive note, I really liked how the author had the main POV’s storyline and then minor POVs’ storylines told and then at the end they all came together and fell into place. Also I liked how there was no love triangle between Sol, K’nal, and Korra and just a friendship, which is a hard phenomenon to come by sometimes. I’m also pleased that there was more than what meets the eye with Slink (a guard who puts up an unfriendly front who is constantly enduring ridicule from the other Colisium guards) instead of just having Slink being the classic nasty guard. Furthermore, Sol was actually mature enough to listen to Occi (his mother figure) and try to be nicer to Slink.
Overall I immensely enjoyed Sol of the Coliseum and am pleased that I got the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review as I do not think that I would’ve picked up this book (much less heard of it) on my own. This book is definitely a hidden gem in gladiator stories and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a unique gladiator story. I’m left with wondering whether there will be a sequel after Sol of the Coliseum‘s ending–what will happen to Sol, K’nal, Korra, and Slink?
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord in exchange for an honest review.