The Agben School (The Legend of the Gamesmen Book 2) Kindle Edition
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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 more 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.
The Agben School is the exciting sequel to The Birr Elixir which I read and reviewed previously. The story resumes with Marra and the Truemen team finally arriving in the land of Missea, where Tryst is a Skullan prince, although nobody knows his real identity. The Skullan and the Trumen are the gamesmen. The Trumen are the smaller, weaker race, while the Skullan is the physically superior race which rules the kingdom.
New to the city, Marra looks for a shop where she can buy herbs for her elixir for the team. The boy running the shop presents her with a mysterious box. She keeps it hidden, not knowing its actual use, or who it was meant for. As a Truemen, Marra is required to be subservient to the Skullan, so she keeps her secret.
Marra’s herbalist skills out surpass many other Bristas. It is revealed that she possesses an acute sense of smell, a gift so rare, it earns her a coveted place as a student at the school. Once there, she learns the Women of Agben are the most powerful in Missea. There is a mystical magic found in the potions and elixirs created and taught at the institution. However, there is a dark magic that hangs over the palace. Soon it becomes clear that only Marra can rid Missea of the evil malignancy growing within the castle walls and possibly within the Agben school.
Weaving throughout the story is the game of Comet. The “game” is played in an arena with two opposing teams. At an inner circle in the field, a line is drawn in the sand by a judge. It is forbidden for the teams to cross the line until the judge allows it. There is much jockeying for the balls by both team members. Four leather balls need to be dropped into a cone-shaped area to score points, which are determined by the judge. Each ball has distinctive markings which ascertain the number of points each ball is worth. As contact sports go, I envisioned the game to be a combination of football and hockey with players participating in a competition to the death to win, if necessary.
The author, Jo Sparkes, skillfully weaves a story within a fantasy kingdom that leaves you wanting more. The detail in the Agben School and the study of herbs was excellent. There is a mystery here, and I am sure all will be revealed in the last book of the series, The Dim Continent. I must add that this book could stand alone because the main details from The Birr Elixir are intertwined within the pages of the story. Even so, I loved The Birr Elixir and would encourage everyone to read it first. The rich descriptions put you right into the action, and you feel like you are peeking over Marra’s shoulder waiting to learn her fate.
If you love epic fantasy with the added excitement of tournament games, you will love this book and the series.
Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Most recent customer reviews
Fun fast paced story
Quiet and competent heroine.
Slow burn almost romance- I'm rooting for Tryst
Can't wait for Book 3