Tournament of Losers
Author: Megan Derr
Title: Tournament of Losers
Pairing: M/M, Bi
Rating: Five Petals
On the Publisher's Website:
All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father's latest debt, Rath doesn't know what to do. There's no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father's debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it's back to trying to live a quiet life...
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rath is a guy just trying to get by, but every time he thinks he's starting to get ahead something happens to knock him back down. When he owes a considerable amount of money to a man who will kill Rath if he's not paid, Rath knows the only way to save himself is enter the Tournament of Losers and get far enough to earn a stipend that will save him. What he doesn't expect is to have fun at the tournament and maybe fall in love as well.
This was a great read and I loved every moment of it. Rath's characterization was beautifully constructed. He was completely believable and I felt his struggle to keep his head above ground even as everything appeared to be working against him. The love story was also very interesting. Rath meets a noble that he knows he shouldn't be falling in love with, but he can't help himself. The difficulty Rath had reconciling his feelings with the divide between classes was very well written.
The only issue I had with this book was the predictability. I guessed who Tress was within about five minutes of meeting him. I also knew who the villain was and who was going to have to die for Rath to find happiness. I would have liked a few surprises or a twist I didn't see coming, but at the same time every aspect of this story was so well written that I couldn't take off any petals for it. I knew who Tress was, but the big reveal that wasn't at all surprising also wasn't boring. Derr managed to keep my interest anyway, which shows amazing talent.
However, I do have to say that overall this story only received four and a half petals. I rounded up to fit in my petals system because I enjoyed reading the book so much, but there were a few plot holes that I did have to score down for. The first one was Rath's obliviousness. He is given gold and purple flags during the maze challenge--the colors of the royal family--yet is shocked when he is placed in the royal tournament. Also, he knows Tress is a noble participating in the noble side of the tournament, yet when every single noble except Tress is paired off with the commoner half, Rath doesn't stop to think about why that might be. Spoiler alert! Only the prince is left, but Rath still wasn't able to put two and two together. Rath very clearly isn't a stupid man, so it didn't make sense to me that he wouldn't have at least suspected Tress' true identity.
Those issues felt a little nitpicky to me, which is why I only took off half a petal. Tournament of Losers deserved a five star review anyway. I will be rereading this story again before my access to it via Netgalley ends.
Derr writes books that appeal to anyone that likes the fantasy genre and Tournament of Losers is no different. The plot was exciting and the characterizations engaging. I really enjoyed reading this book and absolutely recommend it.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.