Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review!
Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.
Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family's taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn't have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn't been seen in centuries.
When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash's path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.
But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I LOVE Sara Raasch's books. There's not been a book of hers that I haven't 100% loved and completely fallen into! As such, I was incredibly excited for this book. Brand New Raasch, plus Gods, plus a Gladiator aspect!? I NEEDED it, more than I needed anything else. However, my excitement dimmed a little as I started to read and this book ended up being a little bit of a mix for me and kind of hard for me to give a rating.
I was immediately intrigued by the world of the book, how it worked and the magic aspect as well as the Gods and their history. The main characters were intriguing as they're both on opposite sides of this war and seemingly heading towards a big, final showdown despite their developing feelings for each other and I couldn't wait to see it play out!
Ash is such a badass and I always love to see a female character that's more than capable of holding her own and is no damsel in distress. Ash ticked every box for me in that regard. Madoc I liked well enough, perhaps slightly less than Ash...sorry. The most interesting aspect to him was his magic and what exactly it was and how it worked. The two of them share a mutual hatred towards the Gods...or well, Madoc hates Ash's God but loves his own while Ash hates her God completely. The thing I found most interesting was Madoc's journey with his God and how he felt about him, he'd always prayed to him for everything and then he discovers he might not be as fantastic as he thought. For Ash, hers was kind of the opposite journey, she's come to hate her God but slowly discovers that maybe Ignitus isn't all bad and I actually kind of felt for him and would have liked to see more of him!
The setting was created well enough although I'd have loved to delve into a bit more. I think we're getting to see more of Ash's land and the rest of the world in the next book which I'm excited for! There are a lot of twists and turns throughout, but I will admit that I did find myself not entirely riveted to the story and that makes me so incredibly sad. I'd been so excited for this book, but I didn't feel that burning need to pick it up and keep reading. I'd put it down, wake up the next day and I wouldn't be thinking about it and rushing to get back to reading it. In all honesty, I did briefly contemplate DNF-ing but because I love Raasch's books so much and her writing, I pushed on.
Things do pick up towards the latter half of the book and I did find myself once again curious about what would happen next, and I am curious to see how things are going to play out in the next book! But I'm also on the fence about actually picking it up as I found it kind of hard to connect to Madoc and Ash and the plot was a little bland for a good chunk of this book.
I think I might give the sequel a try to see if starts off stronger and is more consistent with the plot but I might be stricter at DNF-ing this time around.