The blurb states that this is “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones” but only on the surface of things. It was only like Gladiator in the sense that it had gladiators. Although it has family treachery, it doesn’t even compare to the level of deception and cruelty of GoT. This greatly differs from GoT because the bad guys are obvious and only certain characters are likely to die. This had a massacre, but it was no red wedding.
The royal family was brutally murdered except for Evie. The massacre scene didn’t do much for me. The brief part of the book before the massacre only painted those killed in a bad light. They didn’t deserve to die, but I couldn’t have cared less that they did. After that Evie was in hiding, knowing she was likely to be killed if discovered.
I had some issues with Evie. She had the skill with a blade and savviness of Sansa Stark but was trying to be like Arya Stark. For a member of the royal family raised in a castle along side the princess, she was very uninformed about the political aspects of being in a royal family. This caused her to vastly underestimate her importance in the role of her country after the massacre. She made many bad decisions, putting her life at risk, without even considering the consequences for her country if she died. It wasn’t believable that Evie went from being weak to powerful in such a short period of time.
Overall it was good. The world was not complex, so it didn’t get bogged down with lengthy descriptions, which is something I appreciate. I love the idea for the story. It needed more depth and intensity for me to have liked it more. The groundwork for a romance was laid, but it appears that it’ll be a slow burning one. I really liked many of the side characters especially Sullivan and Serilda. It would be great if more of their history is revealed because they seem to have lead interesting lives. Although I didn’t love it, I definitely plan on reading the next one. It didn’t end on a cliffy but left many open possibilities for where this can go.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.