Good afternoon readers; it has been a busy day for me today. Work is nonstop trying to get everything done on the marketing and social media calendar whilst also trying to fit in all the tasks that seem to spring up from no-where however that’s life isn’t it! I’m actually really annoyed today; I was desperate to take part in NaMoWriMo last year but due to a heavy work load at university I was unable to get stuck in. This year I just completely forgot and now over a week in I think it might be a little late to get everything done which has annoyed me. There is just too much going on in my life right now. However, saying that I’m still fitting in reading in all your wonderful books like this one; so enjoy!
Set during the early years of the reign of the Mad Emperor Caligula, this first installment of the Leopard King Saga introduces us to Tullus, a gifted Roman Centurion who leaves his elite position in the Praetorian Guard to join a troupe of circus performers and learn more about his hidden magical talents. Along with his new partner, a magical Leopardess named Celestra, he re-invents himself as The Leopard King, the most famous entertainer in all the Roman Empire. But when Tullus’ friend and Circus Ringmaster, Paullus, is killed, Tullus and Celestra find themselves immersed in political intrigue and up against Paullus’ killers. Their struggle to avenge Paullus will also cause them to cross paths with corrupt Roman politicians, who know Paullus’ deadly secret-which has the power to destroy the Roman Empire.
A feisty blurb that really got me excited about this book; it’s one thing to say, but this book is seriously gutsy. As above Tullus, a roman Centurion, is promoted after the result of a victorious but bloody battle and is promoted to Praetorian Guard. Instead, preferring to start a family he suggests to Eliana that they run away together; she profusely refused and quite heartbrokenly Tullus leaves for Pesae. Here he meets Pallus and he is introduced to the circus where he becomes the Leopard King. But things are going to take a sharp turn for the worst; Pallus is killed and revenge is needed. Will the circus group avenge Pallus or will they end up in a lot more trouble than they ever thought possible! You’ll have to read this book to find out.
First things first I loved the front cover of this book; I think it really established how the story was going to end up even before you open and read the first sentence. In terms of the writing style the world that the characters live in, is very well built up and investigated; the author doesn’t shy away from investigating the corruption and power struggles that go on throughout the empire which I liked. I also thought the book stuck very much with my associations I have with Rome; it felt very real and accurate which is sometimes difficult to achieve when writing historical fiction. The writing is smooth and the vocabulary used is very opulent and ornate which I absolutely loved. I am a writer who loves writing in this style but mine ends up over-written most of the time, here it works very well. I liked the way the book is written from the point of view of each of the character allowing the reader to really empathise with what is going on and really get inside their heads. I was a little worried that it would get confusing but the author avoids this which I was so happy about!
A few wobbles for me; once we get into the story it moves with pace, but getting into it is a very slow process. I want to be thrown into the plot line not just meandering along and for a while I was wondering when I was going to get to the good bit. Now I’ve read it I know it’s a good book and I enjoyed it but you have to get the reader hooked otherwise they will just put it down and move on. I also struggled with the relationship between Anna and Tullus which I found was very shallow and not particularly well thought through; it just fell flat for me which was a shame because I felt the relationship between Eliana and Tullus was very real. I also thought in comparison to the build-up of the character of Tullus and he sense of justice and knowing about the danger of power the relationship really could have been expanded easily which was a little frustrating. Additionally the mix of magic and politics is just right for me as a reader but I thought that some readers may have found it a little light on the ground and wanted more of it in the storyline to assist the plot but for me, who’s not a huge fan of it in historical fiction it was just fine.
Overall this is a really enjoyable book with a real understanding of the genre of historical fiction and a real understanding of character build-up. Yes, some things could be improved but overall a very pleasant read.