‘Review of ‘The Gladiator and the Guard’
The second in Annie Douglass Lima’s Krillonian Chronicles, this story is set four years after ‘The Collar and the Cavvarach.’
Another fast-paced adventure, with rather more violence than in the earlier book, this novel digs deeper into the corruption under the civilised facade of the Krillonian Empire.
Exploring the lives of the gladiators, Lima shows us that this supposedly glamorous milieu is no more than another form of slavery, whereby the gladiators are imprisoned, physically and mentally abused, and brutalised to ensure that they win contests, money and fame for the owners of the arenas they are bound to.
Gladiators do not retire to a well-earned rest; they end their lives in staged combats. Even the medical treatment they receive when injured is brutal and without pain relief. This is a disturbing story that does not hesitate to reveal the evil of slavery.
It also takes us further in the story of Bensin, his sister Ellie, and Coach Steene, who feel like old friends as we read our way back into what has been happening to them. But the gains they have made in happiness and success are ripped apart in this story and, each in their own way, the three must combat the system of slavery and secrecy that breaks into their lives and threatens to separate them forever.
Lima is a great writer of plot shifts and surprises, and I don’t want to summarise the plot, nor give away the cliff-hanger at the end. But don’t miss the chance to read this book and find out for yourself. I personally can’t wait for the sequel to find out what happens to all the characters and whether the wrongful system of slavery and gladiator shows can be overthrown.