Rating: 4 stars out of 5
As the Light Festival draws near, the Něssyrians craft paper lanterns, awaiting the most important holiday of the year.
The Lyliňg Fighting House, too, prepares for celebration–by laying fresh sand onto the arena and setting up a match against their top pit fighter, the unrivalled Yüuzuki Ōren.
His last match. One he can’t win.
With the odds more than stacked against him, the gorgeous Barbarian is as good as dead. Unless his lover, healer Ĥaiatto Ẽkana, proves himself every bit as determined as he is clever and finds a way to protect the man he’d stop at nothing to save.
Let me start my review right off saying I thoroughly enjoyed this story and main couple. I thought it ended way too soon. My initial response was to give it a much higher rating until I realized a couple of things…
I got some of the more important information I needed from the author’s ‘About the Book’ section and not the story. This is the first novel from this author and her series, The Order. This is a universe where all the stories she’s writing are fitting together like building blocks, creating an overall enormous painting of a world puzzle, complete with a variety of beings, cultures, politics , empires, histories, you name it. Yes, all that I gleaned from her AtB notes. It’s there where she also writes that this story arrived as a one sentence inspiration (the first sentence in the story), demanding to be written, forcing her to put down two other Order Universe tales in the making. Those are some strong voices and I could understand that, listening to them as the story unfolded here.
It’s also where she mentioned readers should read her story The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer, #1) first for all the foundation work it lays. Sigh. Ok. Didn’t do that. Get to it later.
What else did I learn? That the author recommended I should read the Order Glossary first before diving into the story. It’s something she puts in all her stories to help readers remember terms, geography, rulers, kingdoms, beings, terminology, and plants. And yes, do. Read it first. Unfortunately, it’s placed in the back. Still, read it first because if, like me, you have no idea what The Order universe is about, that is pertinent information you will need. Like exactly what The Order is. Trust me, that’s huge.
So armed with all that knowledge, I sailed into Don’t Fight the Spark and loved it! I understood the levels of magic users and what a sand fighter is (think gladiator). I was quickly pulled into the hidden relationship between healer and fighter. Oddly enough, the story is told from the pov of the healer, Ĥaiatto, not Yüu,the fighter, something you wouldn’t get from the blurb. He’s a lower level magic worker, a spark. Someone who can’t make their own magic but buys it and then uses a stone to focus the magic. Bacon uses every bit of the 86 pages to build a tender, powerful bond between fighter and spark, one now threatened by a singular fight and imminent death. I was so emotionally connected to them both I had tears in my eyes at certain scenes.
The action when it comes, flows so fast that you almost have to go back and reread it to make sure you didn’t miss anything, it happens so swiftly. So does the ending, a HFN as it can only be at this moment for them both. This is the first in a series and the start of a journey for them both, along with others we met in this novella.
I have no other stories as comparison so I don’t know if this is typical of the other Order stories in length and format. That the Glossary steps in for foundation and the assumption is that you are reading them all. It might seem so from the author’s words in her ‘About the Book’.
In character, relationship, and plot, this story is strong. The reader must look elsewhere for universe building and structure for the series. I’m already scrambling to catch up on the rest of the stories because I can see this being a new reader addiction for me. I have to know more about The Order and yes, I’m heading towards The Poison Within already That’s next. I’ll let you know what I find. Until then, consider this another fantasy novel I definitely recommend, but read the sections I mention first. Come at this story with all the knowledge you can!
Cover art: Paul A. Bacon. I love this cover. I would have read this story based on the cover alone.
Kindle Edition, 86 pages
Published April 26th 2019
Edition Language English
Series Soldiers and Mercenaries #1