Gladius and The Bartlett Trial was one of the books I have been asked to review. So how was it?
Gladius is a 15 years old boy who embarks on the adventure of a lifetime when he is sent on his Bartlett Trial, a coming of age challenge he must conquer alone to prove to his elders and fellow Wiggins he is no longer a boy, but a man ready to face adult responsibilities. However, everything changes when he discovers what is lurking outside the protected life of his village: a tyrant threatening to destroy all he holds dear. Along the way he makes new friends and allies as they all ready themselves to fight against the tyrant and save their homes.
This is a magical story and it is essentially a children's book. I can see the boys loving this one! But don't worry, any girl with a sense of adventure and a little thing for romance will also like it. There is a magical "storytelling" quality to it. You could imagine sitting around a fire in a campsite telling this story to a group of children.
Talking about campsite... There are some really good survival tips here! I might just take it with me when I go outdoors from now on. Just in case I fall into rapids, dangle off a cliff or get lost inside underground tunnels. I did actually learn some interesting survival skills while reading this book and I am willing to bet I will not be saying that very often!
Prose and plot wise there are a couple of details the most avid reader might pick on. I found the language a little confusing as it flips from evoking a different era and place to very current English. On the other hand, this might be exactly what gives it its "storytelling" feel. There are also a couple of characters that do not seem to have a real purpose in the plot and, towards the end, the whole puzzle they are trying to solve almost feels irrelevant. Having said all that, "Gladius and the Bartlett Trial" is the first of a trilogy, so maybe all these questions will be answered in future sequels. "Gladius and the Sea of Lost Souls" (the title is still not set in stone and was a little secret Jason shared with me) is scheduled for release in October/ November this year! So look out for it.
All in one, J. A. Paul is a very engaging writer with fantastic descriptions of a magical world somewhere far away. His story reminds me of something in between "Lord of the Rings" (minus the scariness) and "The NeverEnding Story". I also think this book would be wonderful in small illustrated volumes, maybe even a graphic novel.
The thing I liked the most about it though, is the fact this is a story you could sit and read with your children. It is interesting enough to keep both generations engaged. That is a fairly hard balance to achieve as a writer.
For more information about this book and its author visit J.A. Paul's website or you can contact him over on twitter through @JA_Paul. He's a lovely bloke to talk to and very friendly. You can also buy a copy of Gladius and The Bartlett Trial here. I will be giving away a signed copy of this book in a little while, only because I like you guys. Like I said, I was originally planning to keep it as my personal survival guide. So stay tuned!
OUT OF CURIOSITY: All the adventures Gladius gets up to in this book are a little hint that Jason (JA Paul) is an "Action Man", think boy scouts, kayaking and travelling. He also has three partners in crime - his sons: Jordan, Caden and Madden, which are the inspiration for his book.
Book Rating: ***
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