Release date: 3 Feb 2023
Book boxes: None yet (fingers crossed for a spiffy, signed edition)
Synopsis: Two years have passed since Ari was taken as a prisoner to the troll realm. Two years of blood staining her hands, killing as the troll king’s mercenary. In Eida, it’s kill or be killed, and Ari will do anything to survive.
But survival does not come easy in Eida, especially for a young woman with fire in her blood.
When Ari's sold to one of Eida’s most notorious training masters, her survival comes with a price: unleash the monster she’s buried inside. A very real and very dangerous creature no opponent can defeat.
Ari expects to kill. She expects to survive. But she doesn’t expect the growing feelings she has for the man who has claimed her as his. Together, Ari and her master will cut down every opponent in the arena seeking a wish from their king.
Until a man from her past challenges her within those walls, and everything Ari has fought for crumbles. All for a man she once loved. But if she is to save her own life, she must take his.
After all, everyone dies in Eida.
When I received the email from Benson that I was approved for the ARC of Well of Eida, I was first ecstatic and soon after realized that I, in my usual scatter-brained fashion, had completely forgotten most of what it was about. In my defense, it was the end of the semester and my short-term memory was cluttered. Massively. I did not reread the synopsis, though, and some of the plot points surprised me and had a more dramatic effect on my reading experience, which was very fun, I’ll have to say. Before the end of the first chapter, I had a hankering for some vengeance and was ready to strap on my sword, lace up my sandals (I had to improvise, mine are Birkenstocks), and run into the ring along with the heroine.
Our main character, Ari winds up in Eida against her will in a way I won’t mention, as it’s an important plot point and really gets the bookish blood pumping right out of the gate. The story starts properly after she’s been in Eida for a while fighting the Troll King’s fights against people from outside of the realm seeking to have their wishes granted by his magic. She’s no better than a slave, though she doesn’t have a proper “master;” and, though she’s also not free, she’s more of a trapped free agent until she’s captured by the trolls in the realm and sold of to one of the most prominent masters of the Fallen in Eida. From there, she continues to try and fight her way to freedom, but she puts herself in the spotlight when she reveals the true depth of the power she holds within, making her a very prized fighter for the king and drastically reducing her outlook on breaking free.
At its heart, Well of Eida is a gladiator story with a side of romance. Nearly all of the plot takes place in a fight in the ring or in training, so it is definitely action-packed. Though Ari can fight a bit before she arrives in Eida, she has to hone and sharpen her fighting skills once she becomes the Troll King’s chosen warrior. If you love stories of vengeance and retribution with underlying themes of making the best of a situation and overcoming evil in very thought-provoking ways, pick this one up. It does not end the way you think, and our warriors’ solutions may be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
The only drawback for me stems from plot continuity. There were times that the events changed suddenly or characters popped up surprisingly that made parts of the story hard to follow. Additionally, there is a character or two introduced in this installment that very much piqued my interest but whose story line felt abandoned. Since this is a first in a series, though, it may be that the rest or more of the stories for those will be addressed in the next installment. Also, since it’s not a finished product, I feel these issues, especially the transitional ones, will be smoothed out.
Overall, 3.75/5. With some more polish, I feel the rating would go up some. I truly love the story’s twists and turns, the magic system is quite intriguing, and Ari’s struggle
to fight for her freedom and the complete disappointment and exhaustion she feels when events take an unexpected turn, leaving her between a rock and a hard place, feels incredibly relatable in a general sense. I look forward to reading the sequel.