Phobos VII

A Gladiator's Fall from Glory

Fiction - Fantasy - General
354 Pages
Reviewed on 04/24/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Phobos VII: A Gladiator's Fall from Glory by Bruce Bland is the story of Stas, whose early fascination with gladiatorial contests is upended when a sequence of events leads to his involvement in a dissident revolutionary faction. Under the tutelage of the renowned Phobos, Stas's proficiency in both combative and esoteric skills grows, and he becomes a strong thread in the intricate web of politicking and clandestine operations. Stas and Phobos are entrusted with a monumental task that has the potential to change everything. It is not a matter of faith but a fight for the survival of the group and all those living in the shadow of oppression. Success within the revolution means Stas must become more than he ever thought possible. He must fight, and he must win. Or he must die trying.

Phobos VII by Bruce Bland is an exhilarating journey through an intensely crafted speculative world, teeming with complex characters. Because Stas's growth reflects back to his youth, as a parent, it was difficult for me to differentiate the hopeful boy from the man, and as a result, I was almost maternally invested in his arc. For Bland to tap into those emotions with me is not something I experience often. The narrative is punctuated by heart-pounding action sequences and philosophical discussions, making for a balanced storyline that is equal parts brain and brawn. The novel's conclusion was a shock and will leave readers with lingering questions about the price of freedom and the nature of sacrifice. It will also keep a reader smiling long after the final battle and that last turn of the page.

K.C. Finn

Phobos VII: A Gladiator's Fall from Glory is a work of fiction in the fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres. It is best suited to mature teen and adult readers owing to some scenes of strong violence and explicit language used throughout. Penned by author Bruce Bland, the story follows Stas, a young boy groomed from birth to be a gladiator, and his journey from a life of privilege and adulation in the arena to a harsh awakening about the cruelty and corruption of his world. From the outset, the book draws you into Stas's world, where the gladiator's life is revered, and winning glory is the ultimate goal. However, as Stas delves deeper into the underbelly of his society, he discovers the dark secrets and injustices hidden behind the grand facade.

Author Bruce Bland has crafted a work that deftly explores themes like privilege, morality, and rebellion in a totally natural and engaging fashion. Stas's transformation from a naive gladiator-in-training to a rebel with a cause is both compelling and thought-provoking, with vivid, cinematic description that brings every scene to life. The narrative is rich in detail, immersing the reader in the gladiatorial world and the political machinations of the city with sharp, edgy dialogue that smacks of attitude and empowerment. Bland has crafted a gripping narrative that keeps you invested in Stas's journey from start to finish. Overall, Phobos VII is a book that makes you question the price of glory and the power of a single individual to challenge a corrupt system, and Iā€™d highly recommend it for fans of stories of inner strength, resilience, and the pursuit of justice.

Asher Syed

Phobos VII: A Gladiator's Fall from Glory by Bruce Bland revolves around Stas, who is drawn to the Lunar Arena's gladiatorial matches, first as a spectator, then in battle. In the arena, Stas faces bird-masked attackers and is saved by Eponine, a memory manipulator, leading to his entry into Enjolras' revolutionary group. With unique arcanum abilities, Stas trains intensely under Phobos, a masked assassin, earning the name "Stas the Blink." Deeply involved in the group's activities, including a high-stakes negotiation and uncovering Dominus's secrets, Stas reluctantly agrees to assassinate Elagabalus with Phobos. The group embarks on daring rescues, confronts danger, and conducts covert intelligence missions. Through these trials, Stas becomes a leader and warrior, ready to persist in the fight against Dominus, symbolized by Phobos's mask of hope and strength.

"I have delved into powers beyond the limits of this world." In Bruce Bland's Phobos VII, the social oppression that has plagued the real world forever is revived, the arena's gladiators are restored, and the immortality of fantasy and magic pulls them all together in a creative new reader forum. The world-building is exceptional, and Bland uses a lot of dialogue between characters to subtly reveal details about where we are, such as the presence of senators and private studies, without heavy exposition. The writing is clean and effective, particularly in depicting things like moral ambiguity, especially within the characters' actions and beliefs. Phobos's justification for his mission and his perspective on justice challenge traditional notions of right and wrong, and a mob society loving entertainment and the desensitization of violence isn't exactly too far off from where we are now. Excellent, excellent storytelling.