Title: Set Fire to the Gods
Series: Set Fire to the Gods #1
Author: Sara Raasch & Kristen Simmons
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: August 4th, 2020 (Balzer + Bray)
Synopsis: Ash is descended from a long line of gladiators, and she knows the brutal nature of war firsthand. But after her mother dies in an arena, she vows to avenge her by overthrowing her fire god, whose temper has stripped her country of its resources.
Madoc grew up fighting on the streets to pay his family’s taxes. But he hides a dangerous secret: he doesn’t have the earth god’s powers like his opponents. His elemental gift is something else—something that hasn’t been seen in centuries.
When an attempted revenge plot goes dangerously wrong, Ash inadvertently throws the fire and earth gods into a conflict that can only be settled by deadly, lavish gladiator games. The fights put Madoc in Ash’s path, and she realizes that his powers are the weapon her rebellion needs—but Madoc won’t jeopardize his family, regardless of how intrigued he is by the beautiful warrior.
But when the gods force Madoc’s hand, he and Ash uncover an ancient war that will threaten more than one immortal—it will unravel the world.
Thank you to the publisher, Balzer + Bray, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In a world ruled by six gods, each possessing a specific type of energeia – elemental power – there are the Divine, who have inherited energeia from their god, and the powerless Undivine who are second class citizens. In the domain of the earth god Geoxus, Madoc has grown up fighting on the streets to support his family, but he guards a dangerous secret – his elemental power is not of the earth as it is supposed to be, but something that has never been seen before. Ash is from a line of gladiators directly descended from the fire god Ignitus himself, and has seen her mother fight in arenas all her life. When Ash interferes in a fight to help her mother, it sets off a disastrous chain of events, and Geoxus declares war on Ignitus. But war in this world is more of a festival, a two week long spectacle of gladiator fights, ending in a fight to the death between the champions of the two countries. Ash swears to avenge her mother by killing Ignitus and upon meeting Madoc, realizes at once that his power is unique and would be a useful weapon, but Madoc’s priority is keeping his family safe and he is determined not to get involved. But there is a plot afoot as a famous gladiator disappears and turns up dead under mysterious circumstances, leading Ash and Madoc to suspect that not only are the gods involved somehow, but are in fact plotting something much bigger – something that will place Madoc at the center of an ancient war.
The world-building was probably my favourite part of this book. The setting has a lot of Ancient Rome undertones which is always fun, but the added aspects of elemental power, not to mention the lore behind the gods and how the world came to be were all very well thought out and presented. More importantly, the lore actually ends up playing a significant part in the story, which was really nice – I can’t count the number of times a whole complex background is set up and barely used. We only got to see two cities in this book, but I’m curious to see how the countries ruled by Hydra and Flora will be and hopefully they will make an appearance in the sequel along with the remaining gods. The gladiator matches and the magic system were fascinating and along with the intricate plot, it’s easy to get confused if you aren’t paying attention, but it was fun to unravel the mystery right alongside Ash and Madoc.
Speaking of characters, Ash and Madoc were both wonderful but character development unfortunately did suffer a bit due to this being so heavily plot driven and it made it that much harder to connect to them. The romance wasn’t very believable either as it was way too fast, not to mention the stakes were far higher elsewhere. I would have also really loved it if there was a map in this book. My eARC didn’t have one, but maybe the finished copy will. It would certainly make following things a lot easier even though the majority of the action takes place in the city of Crixion in Deimos.
Overall, this was a pretty good read and a solid start to a new series! I did have my doubts about this, especially since I DNF’d Snow Like Ashes years ago and I was a little hesitant to pick up another book by the same author. This turned out to be not only a fast-paced, action-packed and well written novel, but also one that was a really immersive fantasy read for me. It was very easy to picture the events in this story and I’m looking forward to the sequel to find out what happens next, especially given the chaos this world has been thrown into with that shocking ending! If you’re in the mood for a fantasy novel that isn’t too heavy, this would be a good choice and I would definitely recommend it!
Set Fire to the Gods releases on August 4th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
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