Rating: 2.75 rounded up to 3 stars out of 5
Dawn had broken hot over the Empress’s Grand Amphitheatre, and despite cooler winds coming in from the northern countries, the theatre itself held the day’s heat as though it meant to drive its occupants mad with fever. Still, the masses crowded the stands, drawn by fantastical Spectacles, each more gruesome and gory.
Titian is part of a bonded pair, a pair in which he is forced to be the submissive. But submissiveness is not Titian’s nature. Every bone in his body screams for dominance, but each gladiator has a role to play in the Arena, and that is his.
His opposite, Galadros is also one part of a pair. He, the stronger, desires to be dominated. But a gladiator of his stature and with his goals can not afford to bend for anyone.
That is until Alession works his magic to bind them together in an effort to create a tragic puppet show for the beautiful and feared empress. He’s failed once before. If he fails again, he will be met with no mercy.
“Do not regret. Every man makes his choices in the theatre. Some are right; some are wrong. Fewer can be taken back.”
In all honesty, I am slightly irritated with this book. For much of it, I felt like I was reading the first book over again. Situations were tweaked slightly, but the story of Galadros and Titian very much mirrored that of Lucan and Hektor. I was hoping for something different within the same world, as I think most people would with a sequel, but I didn’t get it. This aspect had the biggest impact on the rating, but that’s not to say that there weren’t good parts of the book.
Hidden in the background behind the mirrored story is a bit more of the plot. Alession is again the ultimate villain, but I really enjoyed getting to see him. There’s more to him than meets the page, and I appreciate that. He’s depraved and completely amoral, but I’d expect nothing less of him. I also want to know what is going on with the empress, and for this little hidden plot I will likely continue to read the series.
The author also does a really nice job of describing battle and some of the darker aspects of the story. House Menelaus and the Grotesqueries were incredibly alluring and sickening (though I kept picturing a giant squid for the last one, which didn’t really frighten me). And the sex, for the most part, is pretty hot and heavy, though some of the dirty talk borders on eye roll-worthy for me. I think the author would be benefited from cutting down on some parts of the stories and focusing on the point of the book.
Still, I will read the next book, if only to know more about Alession and the empress.
The cover art by Fiona Jayde Media is fitting for the story and how I’d picture Titian. My own quibble is that I swear the book says that Titian never wore his helm. Hm.
ebook, 309 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Loose Id