Review: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

Title: Sol of the Coliseum
Author: Adam Gaylord
Series: N/A
Pages: 262 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (September 17, 2015)
Rating: 4.5 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

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.

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands | Book 1
Pages: 416 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (January 5, 2016)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The novel, Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard describes a richly imagined world of witchery.

Hot headed and impulsive domna Safiya (Safi) fon Hasstrel is a Truthwitch and heiress to the Hasstrel lands. Although witchery is prevalent in the Truthlands, Safi must keep her witchery a secret lest she become a political pawn with her ability to discern truth from lie. Despite being a domna, Safi is far from proper and regards her title as a restraint to her freedom.

Isuelt Midenzi, a Threadwitch is scorned by many because of her Nomatsi heritage. After leaving the Midenzi settlement, she and Safi cross paths and become Threadsisters: a bond developed through a shared life-or-death experience.

But with the end of the treaty that keeps the several empires of the Witchlands from fighting approaching, Safi and Iseult’s peaceful lives will dissipate as they are both forced to run to stop Safi from becoming a political pawn.

With the help of Safi’s uncle’s arrangements, Safi and Iseult manage to make a wild escape and ride a ship to Nubrevna captined by Prince Merik, a Windwitch. However with secret political deals and a vengeful Bloodwitch on their trail, their fight for freedom to live their own lives will not end when they reach Nubrevna.

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Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes series | Book 1
Pages: 448 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray; Reprint edition (September 15, 2015)
Rating: 2 stars (Leave It!-Choose It!)

The novel, Snow Like Ashes, by Sara Raasch describes protagonist Meira and the other Winterian refugee’s journey to retrieve their fallen kingdom’s locket.

GoodReads Synopsis

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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reinodemismediasverdades.blogspot.com

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass Series | Book 3
Pages: 592
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (September 1, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The third novel of the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas describes assassin Celaena Sardothien’s journey in Wendlyn with the Fae.

CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT if you’ve not read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, or The Assassin’s Blade.

After Chaol–the Captain of the Guard–sells his freedom to give Celaena safety in the continent across the ocean, she aimlessly roams the streets of Varese–Wendlyn’s capital–with a half-forgotten mission: assassinate the royal family of Wendlyn. But Celaena has other ideas. She needs to find out more about the mysterious wyrdkeys–the king of Adarlan’s source of power.

And there’s only one person, or rather Fae, on Wendlyn who can give her answers: Maeve, Queen of the Fae who is also her dreaded aunt. While she’s lounging on the rooftops, one of Maeve’s elite Fae warrior, Rowan, appears with orders to bring her to Maeve. However, nothing comes without a price. To receive answers about the wyrdkeys from Maeve, Celaena must complete training under the instruction of the apathetic Rowan.

As part of her training, Celaena must learn to master her fire magic. But her former master, Arobbyn Hamel, always taught her to fear her magic. Can Celaena conquer her fear?

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Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Throne of Glass Series | Book 0
Pages: 464
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (March 3, 2015)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The prequel to the Throne of Glass series, The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas describes Celaena’s life as an assassin of the Assassin’s Guild.

The Assassin’s Blade includes five novellas about Celaena’s life:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: When Celaena defies Arobbyn Hamel’s business wishes with Sam, she learns how unforgiving her master can be.

The Assassin and the Healer: Traveling on her way to the Red Desert as punishment, Celaena meets an inn maid who dreams of being a maid. Despite her brutal upbringing, Celaena shows the maid kindness when she teaches the maid self defense and gives some of her money to her.

The Assassin and the Desert: Celaena trains with the Silent Assassins of the Red Desert so she can win their Master’s letter of approval, then she can leave. There she befriends Ansel, who has many secrets. In the desert, Celaena learns what pain turned to hate can do to people.

The Assassin and the Underworld: After Celaena returns from the Red Desert, Arobbyn Hamel expresses his regret over what he did, but Celaena realizes that she can never fully trust him again. When Celaena learns about the debt she owes to Sam, her rival in the Guild, her life slowly begins to change.

The Assassin and the Empire: Celaena continues her work as an assassin in the Guild. This novella describes the events that led up to Celaena’s time in Endovier.

Considering how much I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing and Celaena, I am surprised at how long I postponed reading this. As a prequel, this book far surpassed my expectations. This was a book of novellas about Celaena. It is a marvelous book of insight on Celaena’s character and why she acts the way she does in Throne of Glass. Although Celaena still isn’t very nice in this book, you learn about her fellow assassin, Sam Cortland and how Celaena’s master, Arrobyn Hamel played a part in her capture and enslavement in Endovier.

How do you think Celaena was similar before and after Endovier? How do you think Celaena was changed by Endovier? What do you think is the bravest act Celaena has done?

Review: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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apageofheaven.wordpress.com

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass series | Book 2
Pages: 448 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (September 2, 2014)
Rating: 4.5 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The book, Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas continues the sage of assassin Celaena Sardothien.

SPOILER ALERT! Proceed with caution if you’ve not read Throne of Glass and plan to.

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Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass series | Book 1
Pages: 432 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 7, 2013)
Rating: 4.25 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The novel, Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas begins the saga of the eighteen-year old assassin, Celaena Sardothien.

Since she was apprehended in currently unknown circumstances, Celaena Sardothien has been slaving away in the salt mines of Endovier. In Endovier, she has endured savage conditions and has permanent scarring on her back to show for it.

After about a year, however, Chaol Westfall (Captain of the Guards) brings Celaena before Dorian Havilliard (Crown Prince of Adarlan). Dorian offers Celaena a proposition. If she fights in the Adarlan king’s competition to become his assassin as Dorian’s champion and wins, she will earn her freedom after four years of service.

At the castle in Rifthold, Celaena’s body recovers from its abuse and she accustoms to the luxuries of living in a palace. However, shortly before the competition’s first elimination trial, a contestant turns up dead and nearly indistinguishable.

Celaena finds herself fighting not only for her freedom, but for her survival too as the Champions’ (the contestants) deaths continue.

Will she be able to find and stop the mysterious killer and win the competition, all while concealing a deadly secret of her own?

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Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

nerdist.comTitle: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes series | Book 1
Pages: 464 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (February 9, 2016)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The novel, An Ember in the Ashes, intertwines the stories of Laia, Elias, and Helene.

Laia is a Scholar, a part of the Scholar Empire, which the Martial Empire conquered. She lives with her grandparents and her brother on the Empire’s back streets and does not challenge the Empire because those who do quickly meet death. But when her brother comes home with his mysterious notebook with a Mask (an Empire soldier) behind him, she must seek out the Resistance (the rebel group) to rescue him.

Elias is a Mask-in-training who is about to graduate from Blackcliff Military Academy. Despite being the son of the Commandant, a ruthless women who runs Blackcliff, he is different from the other Masks because he shows mercy to others. Before being selected for a daunting competition, Elias prepares to flee the Empire so he can be free. He knows that being a soldier means doing whatever the Empire asks of him.

Helene is Elias’s friend and fellow Mask-in-training. She is Blackcliff’s only female student in Elias’s year, but she is a skilled warrior. She will do anything to save Elias who she knows is reluctant to serve the Empire.

GoodReads Synopsis

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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