If you were to be told before reading this book, that it is set in the 154th year of the Krillonian Empire, what sort of images would come to your mind?
Perhaps some imaginary world that is a lot like Ancient Rome? Gladiators, swords and armour, military might, captured countries – slaves?
That would not be far wrong in many ways. But before you are five pages into the book, you begin to feel something unexpected going on. Yes, the characters you meet are slaves and owners of slaves. But no togas or horse-drawn wagons or cobbled streets; instead there are televisions, computers, burger bars, cars, buses, paper money and schools and universities and police-forces. But don’t feel let-down. There are also gladiators. And while some people play sports that are familiar in our world, the big one is a martial art related to the fighting skills of the gladiators; Cavvara Shil.
Fought with the sword-like cavvarach and the shil arm-shield by barefooted men, women, boys and girls, slave and free, Cavvara Shill is big business. There are arenas in every town, where tournaments are held and where big money prizes can be won; perhaps, for some lucky slaves, enough to buy freedom.
Because, apart from the cavvarach, the book has a lot to say about the collar, and along with that a lot about justice and fairness and morality. Sound dull? No, not at all. It’s an exciting book and I couldn’t bear to put it down. Its young hero Bensin and his little sister Ellie have terrifying adventures in their search for freedom, and in the cavvara Shil arenas there are enough exciting bouts to have you gripped ad your palms sweating.
Do they get free? I’m not going to spoil the ending for you; this is a must-read – read it!