Tobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the Ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.
Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting — and killing — for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.
Review: (Video review)
The prologue starts off gruesomely, yet is heart gripping, hence before the book had even started I already needed to know how it ended. Jenna introduces the protagonist; a hardworking, compassionate labourer, Tobias Kaya, with his dreams of becoming an artist shattered upon his father’s death. He now has to provide for his crippled sister and fragile mother. Seeking any means to earn an extra buck for the family, Tobias is tempted to join the Sovereign Tournament with his best friend Milo. The hand of the Saviour goes to the winner and a grand cash payment is paid out to his family upon entering, which could really be of benefit, however the tournament is a fight to the death, and therefore not a straightforward choice. The contest takes part in a confinement holding twenty other men who want to win through any means necessary; killing, lying and manipulating, which tortures the contestants as much as it does the reader. This thrilling, dark romance fantasy raises your heartbeat in excitement and lowers it with sorrow in every other paragraph, where empathy for Tobias lives through the reader. Having watched Jenna’s YouTube channel, it is notable how the characters have taken on her humorous and easy-going jargon as well as her ambitious strive to reach her goal. Even though the characters aren’t showing their true selves the story feels natural and it kept me turning the pages. As I got further into the story I enjoyed it more and more, until I finally reached the end. The end had a large plot twist, that I did expect to one degree, but which I had abandoned and returned back to over and over during the course of the story. All and all, I thought this was an ambitions book worth reading.
Message & Moral
The moral message is one of staying brave, heroic and fighting for what is right, which Tobias struggles with as he needs the funds that the tournament pays to care for his sister Naiomi. He needs to choose between the right path or the hard path when it comes to love and glory, and ultimately end up making the right moral decision. Life and death and who delivers its verdict, are very much present throughout the book and you will learn to love some characters deeply and hate others with passion.
Creatures & Environment
This book has a lot of pages and a lot of characters…and the characters have one nickname each. The competition starts off by having 20 contestants and this is confusing in the beginning, although the laurels that symbolise their greatest features are quite helpful at this point. However, when the competitors starts dropping off, you become very familiar with the last remaining eight and that’s when it really matters. Jenna takes her time to describe the challenges in the competition and the relationship between the men and the female healers, and you rapidly start to sympathise with the situation they find themselves in. Her characters are well thought out with their own quirks and standpoints, some heroic and some very, very malicious. We follow Tobias and how his he is tormented by the feelings of wanting to aid his family, his reluctance to win the Saviour’s hand and the fact that he can’t be with his forbidden love.
Captivation and Continuity
We get to follow the characters and the challenges they face in the tournament and the main concern for the reader through this book is who will win, and who will kill whom next? You find yourself attached to some characters although you have to keep reminding yourself to not get too attached as they might die the next second. No one is safe and things do not at all go as one might have suspected. There isn’t always a happy ending for the characters you started to love. Jenna starts this book with an extremely captivating prologue, carries on to introduce the protagonist and his home environment, which is the only relaxation you will have. When the tournament sets off you need to hold your breath most of the time as they make their way through a dark labyrinth with only blood red text to guide their way. This is certainly a thrilling Dark Fantasy that keeps you intrigued on how it will end for Tobias. My favourite scene involves some paintings that Tobias has done and the romantic light that engulfs them. Although there are plenty of favourite scenes to choose from, for example, the first encounter with Milo and Kaleo which made my heart pop up to my throat. Another character that gets my vote is ‘The Hunter’, who has a tragic backstory, and though his heart is filled with sorrow and rage he stays a good man until the end.
Language & Flow
Jenna paints a language that is witty and full of character. The way she writes the banter between the crude men makes you wonder where she has obtained her inspiration from. The language flows well and a few sentences finish off with the word, “Yes?” which I believe illustrates how the characters from that world speak, just like the Spanish normally voice out, “No?” I believe this book has been inspired by the Roman Empire setting, with gladiators, brute men and the consumption of a lot of wine. I also believe that readers who enjoyed, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, mixed with some Disney Fairytale love, will like this book. WARNING: This book contains a lot of violence, swearwords.
T.M. Caruana’s Unbreakable Sword Award