Arena: Omnibus, by D. Michael Withrow

When Roman culture makes it into the American justice system, convicted killers become the gladiators of the rich. Thousands turn out for the sport, and it’s a brutal, brutal thing that tears families apart.

Colston acquires one such fighter, a giant of a man named Cole. The two become fast friends. Colston’s perspective on life changes and he develops enough to finally start standing up to his father to fight for his own ideals.

Overall the book wasn’t bad. The story was interesting, and the integration of Roman culture wasn’t bad. It enhanced the plot in many ways. The fight scenes were written well, and they filled a good portion of the book, so that was nice.

There were also a few themes, like depression and sexual assault, that weren’t executed well in relation to the story. I liked the fact that the author touched on them, and I liked the fact that the attempt was made. However, I felt like it was rushed and just kind of thrown in for the emotional impact, which didn’t succeed very well for me.

Most of the relationship dynamics were interesting, and relatively unique, with the exception of the romantic one. It, too, felt rushed and thrown in just to give them something to do. I was a big fan of Anna, and I really liked her, I just wished she could have played a slightly different role. I understood what the author was going for; it was just such an overdone trope.

I wish the world would have been expanded for the reader a bit. I had an okay idea as to the state of things, and how it differed from the modern day. I know things were different, I just wasn’t clear on a good portion of the details.

Like I said, overall the book wasn’t bad. It was still an interesting read. There was a lot I liked about it, but there were also opportunities to improve, just like anything else.

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