The Agben School (The Legend of the Gamesmen Book 2) by Jo Sparkes, 384 pages, Oscar Press, July 19th 2014. Genre: Sports/Fantasy. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
(I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Birr Elixir, the first book in the series. I didn’t think the next one could get much better, but it did. The descriptions painted vivid imagery, the characters were relatable and their actions and reactions very human, and there were plot twists I never saw coming. This is shaping up to be a unique and highly enjoyable fantasy series.
In this installment, we follow Marra and the Gamesmen across the sea to the capital of the Skullan people, where the major games and tournaments for Comet take place. Among them is a new character, Tryst, a Skullan pretending to be a Truemen. He was originally under a strong sleeping spell. Having rescued Tryst from men who were up to no good, the Gamesmen dragged his sleeping body along for the ride while Marra, their ‘Brista’ or herbalist, continued to try different potions to break the sleeping spell. Tryst gratefully helped the group in any way he could, such as teaching them self-defense, new Comet moves from the main continent, and joining the team for games when they needed another person. Once they arrive at the city, Drail and the team realize things are tougher in the big leagues than back home. They encounter prejudice from the Skullan teams for their Truemen racial heritage. The Prince of the Skullan people has been missing and is presumed dead, at the hands, they say, of Truemen, heightening racial tensions within the city. Drail starts to lose heart, but regains his determination and drive to succeed at Comet, despite the obstacles and hard work it will take to get where he’s going. As the story moves forward, twists occur that keep you reading on.
What’s unique about this series? This series blends a fascinating fantasy setting with team sports. The sport is called “Comet”, a game in which teams of men try to sink balls in different hoops. The tricky part is you may not know how many points a particular ball will be worth until after you sink it, however, that just adds the element of strategy and keen wits to the game. It’s not just about physical prowess, it requires real thought behind the plays and a study of the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Jo Sparkes brings the sport to life, making you feel as though you were in the stands watching the game, rooting for your favorite team. I found myself yelling “Sink that ball!” and “No!” at my kindle a couple of times, as if the players could hear me.
If you haven’t read The Birr Elixir, the first in the series, I recommend starting with it and getting them both. If you enjoy sports and love fantasy novels, this series is right up your alley. Even if you’re not that into sports, you’ll still enjoy it as a fantasy genre fan.
You can find this book at The Agben School.
Agben had stood for a thousand years. A mysterious school housing more than students, it was the seat of the powerful Women of Agben, and the center for harnessing the potency of herbs. Few knew all that transpired within the walls.
And now Marra stood at its gate.
With friends and support stripped from her, the fragile life she’d built for herself now lay in tatters. And the source of this evil hunted her like a deer culled from the herd.
The gateway before her was her only hope.
For as the city itself crumbled, all depended not on a prince trying to save his people, nor the valiant men who’d brought them this far. Everything depended on finding a magic powder in the vaults of Agben itself.
Everything depended on her.
About the Author:
Check out my interview with Jo Sparkes!
From television shows to football articles, Jo Sparkes can’t put the pen down. She’s interviewed Emmit Smith and Anquan Boldin (as Arizona Cardinals), taught screenwriting at the Film School at SCC, and went on camera to make “Stepping Above Criticism”.
An award winning writer, she lives happily in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their dog, Oscar.