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Ill Met in the Arena [Paperback]

Dave Duncan

RRP: 12.95
Price: 11.97 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

8 Aug 2011
Though Quirt's name is little-known, his skills as a gladiator are quickly obvious and hard to match. In Aureity, noblemen battle in the arena circuit, using their powers of teleportation and telekinesis to prove their breeding and strength. The prizes at play are not only silver and bronze but also the chance to rise amongst the nobility and mate with the ruling class of women. Older than most players, Quirt still manages to draw attention and awe through his mastery of the games. Some of that attention comes from Humate, a brash young competitor with unbelievable power and little patience or control. To him, Quirt is a mystery he can't resist. However, that mystery soon proves much bigger than all of them. Ancient crimes, struggles for status, romance, vengeance, duty--Humate has a lot to learn from the world-wise Quirt. As the secret of Quirt's true identity and past unfolds, Humate and Quirt race to bring justice to the murderer and madman whose blood links the two gladiators together. With ILL MET IN THE ARENA, award-winning fantasy author Dave Duncan creates yet another new, fully-realized world filled with complex cultures and brisk adventure. Intrigue, politics, action, humor--this book will grab you from page one and not let go until the final word.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical battles in the arena; murder and revenge... 9 Sep 2008
By A. Lee - Published on
This is a fast-paced, adventure-filled, fantasy with a revenge plot. Quirt finds himself back in the arena where young men compete using their psychic powers, moving objects and porting themselves in contests of strength and skill (and sometimes danger and death). The youths who participate in these gladiatorial-type games are high-caste/nobles who hope to gain attention and find a good match in this matriarchal country of Aureity. Quirt is a good ten years older, but powerful back in his time, and now very experienced. He's out to trap the man who raped and left his mother lost in madness--his father.

Quirt's story is fascinating. His efforts to bring a killer to justice are more difficult than they should be in a society where women rule by psychic abilities that supposedly make it impossible for killers or psychopaths to remain in any high position--proving that while magic may make it harder to murder and deceive, it all depends on humans who are fallible; whether the supposedly more brutish and less civilized men (whose powers are those of strength, speed and teleporting) or women (detecting lies, able to read minds, cast illusions), who are viewed as rulers who can keep violence and wars and criminality from occurring.

The culture is interesting, with its strict castes and politics and magic and views on men and women. The battles in the arena are exciting and suspenseful. I wish the thoughts and feelings and relationships between the characters were elaborated a bit more. The pace was nice and fast, but I wouldn't have minded a bit more about all the characters. The relationship between Quirt and the very arrogant, powerful, young contestant, Humate, was fascinating... and I'd loved to have seen it developed a bit more in the book. But if you're more into the action and the plot, there's enough here to satisfy. This is a stand-alone that has innovative world-building and action and adventure, with an exiting and moving and intricate plot that nicely wraps up with a grand climax. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fascinating World Created by Dave Duncan 21 Jan 2009
By Red Sox Reader - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dave Duncan is a master at creating new worlds, each with an internally consistent social structure and system of magic. In "Ill Met in the Arena," Duncan creates a world where psychic (male) gladiators battle for rank and status, while women pull the strings. Duncan creates suspense in small encounters (individual battles in the arena) and large (the protagonist is psychically bound to revenge a great wrong done to his family). As a loyal Duncan reader, this book reminds me most of the "Children of Chaos" series. This is a fast-paced blend of action, mystery, and fantasy, and blessedly (compared to the Robert Jordan School of never-ending books) the story wraps up in one volume!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tale! 4 Oct 2008
By Chris of Oakleys books - Published on
This is a fast-moving tale that was tough for me to put down, and I've been reading sci-fi and fantasy for a long time.

Duncan tells this story in the first person. That approach is very tough to sustain for an author but, when it is done well as is the case here, it produces a very immersive and suspenseful story.

The author weaves the story amidst a complex society built on some very fresh premises of psychic power along gender and genealogical lines. Psychically gifted men can teleport and lift objects, while the women can remotely communicate, and can read the minds and control the bodies of those they touch. The strongest men can teleport the furthest and lift the heaviest, and the women similarly.

The story itself is one of redemption and vengence, but is freshly told becauzse it is simultaneously a murder mystery and a coming of age story. The action scenes in the arena are riveting, and the combats outside the arena are even better.

Best of all for me, was that the ending was very satisfying.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pursuing a Madman 9 Sep 2009
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on
Ill Met in the Arena (2008) is a standalone SF novel. It is set on a world orbiting a blue star. A smaller white sun follows in the same orbit, but sixty degrees behind. Aureity is the major continent on the planet. It is divided into seven hegemonies.

Since ancient times, the people of Aureity have been breed for psionic talents. Noble men can teleport, levitate themselves and move objects with their minds. Noble women can sense and influence the minds of others.

Some time ago, women had become the rulers on Auriety. Some small pockets of male rule still exist, but all the major powers have women at the helm. Among the nobility, males have subordinate roles and are acquired as consorts and champions of the females.

The main testing grounds for males are the arenas. Young males with psionic powers compete among themselves for prizes and for offers from the agents of powerful women. Newcomers to the arenas start in the bronze circuit and work their way up to the silver contests. Now and then, the best duelists are invited to compete in gold tourneys.

In this novel, Quirt of Mundil is the pseudonym of Mudar of Quoin. He has been unnamed by his Hegemon and doomed to find the killer of his lover. He has been searching for the murderer for two pentads -- about eight years -- without success. But now he had found the man and is fulfilling his doom to bring the killer to justice.

Hyla is the mother of Mudar. She has been lost in a world of her own since being poisoned and raped many years ago. Yet her world plays around her in illusions of past events.

Humate of Alfer is the son of Pelta of Pelagic, a Hegemon. He has raw power, but no experience and little skill. In arena terms, he is a baby dragon.

In this story, Quirt is competing in the bronze circuit to eventually gain an invitation to a gold tourney. Under his real name, he had been a well-known winner in the silver circuit. Now he is trying to win a bronze crown at Bere Parochian.

When he arrives at the arena, his manager informs Quirt that a baby dragon is competing in the tourney. She tells him that Humate was admitted to the contest as a blank -- an undeclared duelist -- as is proper for a cub of the hegemonic class. Yet he has accidentally let slip his real identity and now other duelists are removing themselves from the game.

Quirt convinces his manager to let him remain in the contest. Then he has to do the same for the games marshal. They understand that he has much more experience and might have a few surprises for Humate. Quirt wins that tourney by guile and Hamate's panic.

Quirt also encounters Humate at the next bronze tourney and conspires to teach him some manners. They have a preliminary round in which Humate finds himself unable to win. Then Quirt and Humate have a little conversation.

Quirt explains his existence as the by-blow of a rapist. Then he tells of the death of his lover. Finally, he tells Humate the identity of the rapist and killer.

This tale reads somewhat like Hamlet. But his Hegemon has forced Quirt to look for the rapist and killer. He has little choice in the matter.

The author has written many fantasy stories. Yet he gives a scientific rationale for this tale. No magic is involved. So this work is another example of an SF story using a fantasy theme.

The story has twists and turns, surprise after surprise, until the final chapter. Quirt's life is threatened many times. Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Duncan fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of psionic powers, dangerous pursuits, and true romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 7 Feb 2009
By Gary C. Leroux - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Outstanding new world. Very well developed with an extremely interesting magic system based on psionic ability. Need to see more like this.
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