Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.
In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.
But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.
Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.
But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
In the entertaining first installment of Estep's epic fantasy series, Lady Everleigh Violet Winter Blair, 17th in line for the throne of Bellona, goes from nondescript pawn to significant player in royal intrigue. When Queen Cordelia's daughter, Vasilia, viciously slaughters the queen and most of the royal family in a genuinely horrific scene, Everleigh barely escapes, carrying proof of Vasilia's treachery. Going by Evie, she joins up with the queen's former personal guard, Serilda Swanson, and her gladiatorial troupe, hoping to enlist her help in taking down Vasilia but Serilda has her own plans. Although Evie's time with the troupe does give her some skills, it doesn't transform her into an unstoppable fighting machine; instead, she relies on her unusual immunity to magic and ability to neutralize it in others, along with an enhanced sense of smell. The worldbuilding feels scant, but Estep (the Elemental Assassin series) knows her way around a fight scene (and a dance scene). There are hints of romance and a refreshing focus on female friendship. Readers will want to see brave Evie stop the cruel warmonger Vasilia, and will look forward to the next chapter in her story.
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Looking Forward to the second book😊
I was surprised by this book. I was expecting more of a Gin Blanco type of character and situations but instead we get a woman tired of playing second fiddle and starts to stand up for herself one step at a time. The storyline is fun, entertaining, and has plenty of action for the action junkies. Does have a small romantic interest. I hope this won’t be the last of these characters.