By Robert Drinkwater
The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci is a book that I have been looking forward to reading for a long time. The author of this book, Jenna Moreci also has a youtube channel in which she gives out writing advice. I have been watching this channel for some time, and that is how I heard about her new book, The Savior’s Champion. This is a dark fantasy book that takes place in a land that is ruled by The Savior, a woman with special gifts and is revered by the people of Thessen. As for the plot of the book, the savior has just turned twenty which means that she must be wed, therefore there is a competition titled The Sovereigns Tournament, in which twenty men compete to marry The Savior. The main character of this novel is Tobias, a laborer with no interest in The Savior, who just scrapes by trying to provide for his family. Tobias enters the tournament so that he can provide money for his family, however he soon learns how dangerous this tournament is as he faces a series of dangerous challenges that test his strength, loyalty, and patience.
The Sovereigns tournament reminded me of a sort of gladiatorial bachelorette because twenty men were competing for the heart of one women. In this case, of course it was more deadly. Not only did this have a compelling plot, but it also had a plethora of interesting characters that all stood out in their own way. Each of the men had their own unique personality. Tobias, for instance was compassionate, selfless, sensitive, and he was passionate about art. He wasn’t some stoic hyper masculine man with no emotion. I felt like Moreci really portrayed a three dimensional main character who was layered and even developed as the story progressed. Tobias goes through a series of trials that test both his physical and mental stability. Without going too much into spoiler territory, I will say that there is a romance, (a few technically), but I felt like this romance was one of the most fleshed out side stories in a novel I’ve read. Tobias’s love interest is three dimensional and she could hold her own, she didn’t need Tobias to constantly save her from all of the dangers. This romance has it’s ups and its downs, it really felt like a roller coaster at times. However it worked because both of them were in love with each other, and neither of them were toxic to one another, making it one of the healthiest relationships I’ve seen in a book.
The other characters include: Leila, sister of The Savior, a healer with dark secrets, who also happens to be scheming in the background. Cosima, who is The Savior, the woman who everyone is competing for. Delphi, who is also a sister to The Savior. I found her to be one of the most mysterious, yet interesting characters in the novel. Flynn is another competitor of the tournament and allies himself with Tobias early on. Kaleo is another competitor. He is cutthroat and is kind of a sociopath. These are just a few of the many characters that make up this ensemble cast.
This book had the right amount of humor in it. While it wasn’t over the top, it was very much present. I’m glad that Moreci didn’t make it all blood and guts, but included the much needed comic relief moments and jokes that relieved some of the tension. Humor was sprinkled throughout each chapter at the necessary parts, to which it made the book more enjoyable. I also liked how this book was more diverse than a lot of fantasy books I’ve read. There were plenty of people of color, along with lesbian and gay characters. I also thought that the pacing of this book was done perfectly. It wasn’t rushed, but it didn’t feel drawn out either. It was a mix between competitions and moments with character build up and development, that I felt happened at a good pace, none of it felt like it was too much or too little.
My main criticisms for this novel would be the main antagonist, Kaleo. He’s a sadist and that’s pretty much it. He doesn’t really have much of a personality. He didn’t really seem to have any personality traits that really made him memorable and he wasn’t that threatening, other than the fact that he was strong and unpredictable. However, I did think that Brontes, The Sovereign made a better antagonist. He was ruthless and power hungry. I also thought that Tobias and some of the other characters who got totally pulverized during the competitions healed rather quickly. This critcism is mostly aimed towards Tobias since he seemed to have nine lives and ended up right back on his feet after each competition. I know that Leila’s a skilled healer, but I just didn’t think that it was realistic how fast that man healed. As for the world building, I felt like I didn’t really learn that much about Thessen or any of the other surrounding countries. Other than the fact that these people worship The Savior and every time a new savior reaches the age of twenty, the Sovereigns tournament is held. I wanted to know more about the culture and politics of this land.
Other than those criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was packed to the brim with action and intrigue. It was intense moment after intense moment full of death, betrayal and unforgettable dialogue. It was exciting and full of unpredictable twists and the killing, so much killing. No one was safe, after all only one man can be crowned as The Saviors Champion. There were twists and turns during every chapter, and each chapter ended with me wanting more. I recommend The Savior Champion by Jenna Moreci to anyone who enjoys dark fantasy novels. I look forward to reading the sequel, The Savior’s Sister, that takes place during The Sovereigns tournament, but from Leila’s perspective, so I’m expecting more political intrigue.
Here’s Jenna’s Channel if you wanna go check it out: