Henry and Jason are engaging characters. They have a little knowledge about weapons, armor, and fighting and these are definitely put to the test right away on Ludus. Dolos, the omnipotent god of Ludus, is a jerk but Henry and Jason strike a bargain with him and are determined to win. I am skeptical that Dolos will hold up his end of the bargain. Still, I hope Henry and Jason best him by the end of the series.
The first big hurdle for the guys is to take out some orc-like creatures that have taken some human-like captives. Enter Mareen, the first maiden that needs saving. Now she’s not all helpless. She puts up a fight and is quick to recover enough to get out of there with the guys and back to safety where she can fall apart in private. So, she held potential from the beginning…. if only the author had used that potential.
The quests and magic continue from there. Henry is more the reactive, leader type while Jason is much more the thinker. The inhabitants of Ludus know how Henry and Jason got here because either they themselves were brought here for Dolos’s entertainment or their ancestors were. So they offer what knowledge they have to Jason and Henry.
There’s caves and dungeons to explore to gain treasure and the chance to level up your magical skills. It really felt like these characters were immersed in an epic fantasy computer game. Mostly I enjoyed the world building, though there were a few times where explaining the rules dragged things down a bit.
For some reason, Mareen remains our only female character for some time. Also, her destiny is to fall in love. Yep… sigh…. really? Eventually, we get Uulula who is basically an elf. She’s a bit more interesting than Mareen when we first meet her. Both ladies do get some skills but their main focus is to serve as love interests for Henry and Jason. Since there are so few ladies in a large cast, I really needed them to shine and they didn’t. While they had a little depth by the end of the book, they were pretty much cookie cutter, interchangeable characters which was greatly disappointing. Keeja is the one female character that holds my interest but she comes in near the very end of Book 1. I’m really hoping that the author keeps her around for the rest of the series.
All told, it’s a fun, breezy take on the epic fantasy genre even with it’s flaws. I hope Book 2 holds my interest more than Book 1. 3.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Jeff Hayes was the star of this book. It’s his performance that kept me going. All his character voices are distinct and his female voices are very believable. Hayes sounded engaged for the entire book and appears to have enjoyed giving voice to this story. I loved his serious, grumpy voice for Henry and his flippant voice for Keeja. 5/5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own.