Synopsis (From GoodReads):
17 year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl in the Empire city of Delos, lives the harsh and unforgiving life of a commoner. By day she delivers her father’s forged weapons to the palace training grounds, and by night she secretly trains with them, yearning to be a warrior in a land where girls are forbidden to fight. With her pending sale to slavehood, she is desperate.
18 year old Prince Thanos despises everything his royal family stands for. He abhors their harsh treatment of the masses, especially the brutal competition—The Killings—that lies at the heart of the city. He yearns to break free from the restraints of his upbringing, yet he, a fine warrior, sees no way out.
When Ceres stuns the court with her hidden powers, she finds herself wrongfully imprisoned, doomed to an even worse life than she could imagine. Thanos, smitten, must choose if he will risk it all for her. Yet, thrust into a world of duplicity and deadly secrets, Ceres quickly learns there are those who rule, and those who are their pawns. And that sometimes, being chosen is the worst that can happen.
I really like YA Fantasy books. I find the characters fun and the situations exciting. There was much to like in this book, Slave, Warrior, Queen, by Morgan Rice. But there were also some strange plot issues that were difficult to overlook.
What I Liked:
I love books set in ancient times. This book is set in an alternate universe, but with the feel of the ancient Roman Empire. The details of how the common people were treated and how they struggled felt very authentic. I liked that this book showed the grittier side of that world. Too often, these books focus almost exclusively on royal power plays. But the author chose to focus on what it would have been like for women at the time. I loved that. For example, even though Ceres' mother does some terrible things in the book, I could see that she probably didn't have many options, herself, and she was just trying to survive. She certainly wouldn't win any awards for mother of the year. But I could see why she did what she did. She bet on keeping her sons safe over her daughter, probably thinking they would look after her in her old age.
I'm sure Morgan Rice had to be creative, since not much is known about women in ancient Rome, other than the social structure of the society. This book delved into the kinds of horrible choices women probably made in order to survive.
I liked the action in the book. There was the brutal gladiator competition known as The Killings, and a rebellion brewing as the masses were so fed up with being abused by the King.
The Killings are where Ceres starts to see herself as a fighter. She has learned about weapons from her father, a master weapons maker. This gives her the access to enter the world of the fighters. The violence and death surrounding these spectacles show how fleeting lives were in ancient times.
There was also lots of tension as Ceres' brother and his friend (a possible love interest for Ceres) secretly prepare to fight to overthrow the King. The odds of their success are minuscule, but they see no other choice. These scenes created a sense of a higher purpose that made these moments shine.
What I Didn't Like:
Ceres' Superpowers???This book seems to be set in a Roman Empire-like world. There are slaves, a brutish king and gladiator sports to entertain the masses. How is this book a YA Fantasy? Well, at various times in the book (mostly when Ceres' life is in danger), Ceres suddenly has super powers that push the bad guys away from her.
There was no explanation for this in the book. Where did Ceres get these powers (and what is her power, exactly)? What can she really do with them? What would happen if people found out about it? None of this is answered in the book. The powers just appear, Ceres wonders how she repelled the bad guys, and then she drops it.
If I suddenly had super abilities, I would go seeking answers. I would hope that these things are addressed later in the series. But in this book, these powers just arise with no follow up.
This book could have easily done without the super ability aspect and it would have been more powerful. It really didn't need the fantasy element to work as a story. I found it out of place with the rest of the story, and that is why I gave it only three stars.
Release Date: May 14th, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Bought my me
Format: Kindle e-book
Recommendation: A promising start to this series, I just hope that some of the elements are explained in later books.