I received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Dystopia Age Range: Adult Star Rating: DNF at 50% Series: yes - first book in trilogy
A forbidden contest. An international game.
Bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and followed by thousands online, two teams of warriors vie for dominance, and the streets of Edinburgh run with blood.
Into this secret struggle steps Tyler Maitland, seeking his lost sister, and Lana Cameron, grieving her dead child. When they are accosted by figures in black hoodies and each handed a silver amulet, they recognize the Triple Horn of Odin – the talisman of the Valhalla Horde.
They are being recruited into the great game known as The Pantheon. And one day they will change everything.
Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams which inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more wondrous and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, taking each of them to the depths of their souls … and testing them to breaking point as they search for loved ones and for the meaning in their lives.
Let the Season begin.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I hate DNFing books, even more so when it’s a book for a tour. But I’d been struggling to pick this one up and get into it, forcing myself to pick it up in little chunks (hence I got so far.) Eventually I had to sit down and ask myself why I was struggling, and it came down to the characters.
Let’s start with the female characters. This book is really not good for female characters, and one is the secondary POV (Lana.)
Lana is taking part in the Panetheon because she was sexually assaulted (I think – this book isn’t great at spelling out motivation – see later on. But the first thing we learn about Lana is that she was raped, and got pregnant from it. Later we learn she had a miscarriage.) I honestly know nothing else about her life halfway into the book beyond the fact she’s a victim of sexual assault. And she’s the secondary POV.
Tyler, the primary POV, comes from a family of domestic violence – and the first POV at the very start of the book (never comes again) also stresses the domestic violence happening at home. The female trainer joined because she lost her fiancé. And in some respects, Tyler’s mother was fridged – her murder setting him on the path to the Pantheon. All I know about Tyler’s sister is that she had a relationship that changed her and then she left for the Panethon. And I don’t think there was another woman in the book.
It was just so frustrating that all the women were defined by their relationships and sexual experiences. There was no breadth of character motivation or complexity like the men got, they were instead reduced down to their relationship to men (either specific men or men as a whole.)
Then there was the lack of character motivations spelt out clearly. Why is Tyler trying to go for the Pantheon? There are a lot of hints that it’s to do with his very dysfunctional family, and his sister going, as we get glimpses of his past throughout the book. But it’s never spelt out WHY he wants this. Is it to find her? Is it for money? Violence? Does he want an answer to the hint of a mystery about his mother dropped about 30% through? Without that, I had no reason to root for him. No reason to care.
We also didn’t get to see “normal” life pre-Pantheon for any of the characters, what they were doing just before they got invited. That probably would have helped, to see the “void” in their life clearly to then understand how the Pantheon fill it. Without that, they were just a bunch of characters (confusing with three sets of names!) who were training in a concrete bunker.