The Blood Isles
An action-packed dystopian adventure set in modern-day Scotland
by C.F. Barrington
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Pub Date 14 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 30 Mar 2022
Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book
The second in a dystopian thriller series, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient fight to the death in the streets of Edinburgh.
New Season. New Rules. Same deadly game...
The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.
Last season's new recruits Tyler and Lana have lived to fight another day, but now they face a series of even more lethal clashes before the Grand Battle that will bring the Season to a close.
It's survival of the fittest in the most brutal fashion imaginable. As they race toward the bloody end, Lana must finally face the demons of her past, and Tyler will have to fight with the mother of all targets on his back...
Squid Game meets The Hunger Games in this fast-paced, action-packed thriller series.
Praise for the Pantheon series:
'The moment you ask yourself if it could just be true, the story has you.' Anthony Riches
'Gripping and original – a terrific read!' Joe Heap
'The Wolf Mile is a thrilling ride and a heck of a debut. C.F. Barrington knocks it out of the park.' Matthew Harffy
'So gripping that I sometimes find myself holding my breath while I'm reading!' Ruth Hogan
'A brilliant eccentric concept which hits you like a fever dream.' Giles Kristian
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 11 members
"Battle is terror. The wait is worse."
The Pantheon Games are the world’s biggest underground events. Bankrolled by the elite, they are watched by millions online as the chosen competitors embark on life or death battles armed with only ancient weapons.
Tyler and Lana - now known as Punnr and Calder - are new recruits to Edinburgh’s Valhalla Horde and are gearing up for their first blood season. It begins with the blood nights and culminates in the Grand Battle, a brutal war between Scotland's two warring factions that is the most dangerous of Pantheon’s year. Can the pair survive to fight another year? Or will they fall.
In the second of C.F. Barrington’s Pantheon trilogy he again merges fantasy and reality to create a world that is believable and addictive. The book opens with the stats of both Hordes and then succinctly catches you up on the events of book one with a section titled ‘What has come before’. This was a brilliant idea to include as this is a complex and layered world filled with an array of characters. I still found myself getting a little confused at times due to the huge amount of detail that is needed to explain Pantheon’s rules but it didn’t last long and I was soon back on tenterhooks as the riveting action occurred.
In the background of the games is the ongoing search for Morgan, Tyler’s sister, who was part of Valahlla’s rival Horde. This parallel storyline provides added tension and mystery to the story as well as increased risk to Tyler and the others who are trying to track Morgan down. Some of those high up in Pantheon risk losing their position should she be found and reveal what she knows meaning Tyler and the others are fighting against not only their sworn enemies but those in their own ranks who will do anything to silence those who pose a threat to their position.
There are a multitude of great characters from heroes you can root for to villains you love to hate. I enjoyed being back with them, particularly the ones familiar from book one, and enjoyed seeing how they and their relationships developed in this instalment. Tyler/Punnr is a great protagonist and I loved his friendship with Brante, his blossoming relationship with Lana/Calder, and the brotherly bond he shares with Oliver. I was completely invested and worrying about Tyler would be affected should he lose any of these people just added to the tension. I thought there was a good balance of character study and action, allowing the reader to feel a real connection with the many characters while also being full of suspense.
The Blood Isles is an addictive and entertaining read that you will enjoy even if, like me, this isn’t your usual genre. And that ending! I thought my heart would beat out of my chest and am going to be counting down to book three after that climatic cliffhanger!
Do you like a bit of fantasy fiction mixed in with the present? Then look no further, this is book 2 of a trilogy, I would highly recommend you read book 1 first (The Wolf Mile) mainly because of the world building as well as character development. However the author does put a refresher at the beginning of the book so it would be possible to read that and then pick up the story. I read book one last year and having read quite a few books in between I had to remind myself what had happened in the first book.
But as this one picks up where the last one ended I soon remembered what had happened. Tyler Maitland had been a very quiet young man with a limp when he first looked at joining The Horde of Valhalla, he was actually looking for his sister Morgan who he believed had joined this order. It’s only later he finds out she may have joined The Titan Sky-Gods which are the enemies that the members of Valhalla fight against.
The Pantheon Games are set in the streets of Edinburgh, when the majority of people are tucked up in bed, the two sides dress up and use weapons that would only have been used when vikings were around. The challenges that are fought are recorded and are streamed live to very wealthy people who put bets on who is going to win. For these people it’s nothing but a sport watching people kill each other. But it is all around the world that the bets are placed and the games are watched live.
It’s a new season for the Pantheon Games, Season nineteen. This book is divided into three parts, part one The Cull, part two The Field and part three The Battle. The first two parts are the build up to The Battle at the end.
Tyler is still looking for his sister, but now he is in danger because others also want to find Tyler’s sister. Lana/Calder had also joint the order for different reasons to Tyler but she too is in danger in this book. Will be interesting to see if Tyler and Lana actually get together if they can stay alive.
This is a brilliantly plotted read, the world building makes you actually believe you are in Edinburgh. With characters you want to succeed, along with some characters who are evil and can’t be trusted. There’s quite a build of tension as you get closer to the battle, which makes you want to read on. This is definitely a book I would recommend.
Thank you to #netgalley and #HeadofZeusBooks for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair unbiased review.
The second novel following Punnr, Calder and the rest of the Horde as they embark on the next big event of the games. This time they must fight for advantages in the upcoming final battle of the season. But Punnr has more than one target on him. He hadn't killed yet, so is a prime target for the Titans and after his performance in the previous tests even his own side doesn't have a lot of faith in him. Meanwhile he's still searching for his sister. Calder, recovering in hospital, begins to have suspicions about some of the activities of the Palitinate and has her own real life battles to face.
Firstly, if you enjoyed the first one you'll no doubt enjoy this one as well. I'd recommend reading the first novel if you haven't already but it can just about stand on its own and you'll only be a little confused. It has the same slow buildup despite there being more intense fighting this time around and it's far from a repeat of the first book. This has been well thought out and the pace is right I think, to see things start to come together. Some characters are a bit ambiguous as to whether they're supposed to be considered "evil" or not, and that's a good thing. It's all part of the "game" and you start to get a sense of how much bigger the whole thing is than the real people battling for their lives.
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first, but that's not because of the book. It took me a long time to read this because life, so I didn't get quite as engrossed in it. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it though to anyone looking for a complex story full of intrigue and more than a smattering of violence that doesn't get too graphic.
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