The Gladiator and the Guard (A Book Review)

I recently read a great novel that I’d like to tell you about. Below you can find my review of The Gladiator and the Guard as well as information from the author about the book, where to buy it, and even a giveaway opportunity!

My Review

“An Exciting Tale of Bravery, Integrity, and Sacrifice”

Big Picture: “The Gladiator and the Guard” (henceforth abbreviated G&G) is the sequel to “The Collar and the Cavvarach” (C&C). While I definitely think G&G stands on its own as a novel (and that’s saying something for a sequel!), I recommend reading its predecessor first because it gives you so much insight into the characters and the cultural climate in which they live. Both stories center on the life of Bensin, a slave and martial artist in the Krillonian Empire. The Empire is much like our own world with modern conveniences like TVs and mobile devices, but it is also reminiscent of other times and places when slavery was a common way of life in civilized society and watching gladiatorial fighting was a favorite pastime of the everyday person. I really enjoy the alternate reality in which this story is set. While being riveting and exciting, the story is also poignant and allows for the reader to explore questions of ethics, integrity, and morality.  

Audience: As an educator, I often read YA fiction for my enjoyment and also in pursuit of finding good literature for students. While this book is slightly more gory than C&C (because we are viewing the lives of gladiators instead of younger martial artists), I think it is still appropriate for a middle school audience and above. In fact, I happen to know the author personally and also a student who participated in a screening of the novel. This student was in 6th grade at the time of the reading, and she was so intrigued by the story that she decided to focus her Language Arts research essay on ancient Roman gladiators because of the similarities between them and the characters in G&G. This student was captivated by the story, and I had to hold her back from giving away any spoilers about the book before I had a chance to read it!

Merit: I only know a handful of authors personally, and I’ll be honest that knowing an author actually makes me more critical of the work(s) that he or she has written. With that in mind and the fact that the author is a personal friend, I have to say that this is one of the best YA books I’ve read in the past couple of years. I couldn’t put it down! I was traveling while reading an advanced copy of this book on my Kindle, and every night, no matter how tired I was, I had to read at least a little more of Bensin’s story. Ms. Lima’s writing is crisp and vivid; she paints a picture with her words. The action in the story is realistic and exciting; I never felt like the scenes were unbelievable. The dialogue and inner voices of the characters make them come to life, and their struggles are real. There were many “highlight-worthy” passages in this book—lines that I reread just to savor their impact. Even with all these great qualities in the writing style, by far my favorite aspects of this book are the moral and ethical questions it raises about slavery, freedom, and integrity (i.e. doing the right thing even when it’s the hardest option or no one else will understand your choices). These are questions that every person (even a 6th grader) can and should grapple with as we are faced with injustice in our modern world.

Conclusion: I think this is a great story for adults and youth alike. One of the best things about fiction is that it allows us to deal with aspects of our own lives in settings and places and through characters that are not overly familiar to us. It allows us to see our own lives through a different lens, and we often truly need that in order to learn about ourselves and about truth. “The Gladiator and the Guard” is a book that allows that sort of reflection while still being an exciting tale of harrowing acts of bravery, tremendous personal sacrifice, and perilous adventure. I highly recommend this story to anyone looking for a great read!

From the Author

I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.

First Things First: A Little Information about Book 1: 

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and what is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!


Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats)
for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband, Floyd, currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel. 

Connect with the Author Online:

Enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of The Collar and the Cavvarach via a Rafflecopter giveaway.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s