The Champion of Barésh is an epic space adventure that introduces the reader to a brutal underworld of fight-clubs featuring the galaxy’s favorite arena sport – bajha. The gladiators (all male) compete in one on one matches, enduring sensory deprivation at the professional levels to better hone and utilize their innate intuition – a sixth sense if you will. The competitors duke it out using electrified swords, the object of the game being to touch the breastplate of their opponent. The heroine, Jemm, faces seemingly insurmountable odds as she enters an amateur bar match on the slum infested mining world of Barésh disguised as a man. As her family struggles with poverty, she feels bajha is her only hope of creating a better life for them and for herself.
Against all odds, she defeats the reigning champion and videos of her prowess in the ring go viral. Suddenly the universe is opened wide for her and the reader is whisked away to different worlds as Jemm is admitted to the league fights while still pretending to be of the male persuasion. But what happens if her deception is discovered? And how does she deal with her forbidden passion for her proud sponsor, the team’s owner, Prince Klark Vedla?
I would like to start off by saying that I received this book free for my honest review through NetGalley. That being said, wow, this book really took me by storm. Ms. Grant’s attention to detail has successfully woven an intricate tale of rags to riches in a brutal arena sport. The characters are very well developed and multi-faceted with a storyline that is both engaging and fast-paced. The love scenes were red hot and full of passion, and the day to day struggles of the heroine tug at the heartstrings. I normally listen to the TV in the background when I read but after I finished the last page, I glanced up at the clock only to realize I had lost several hours in what felt like minutes. I could not put this down. The Champion of Barésh is not a story to be missed. This is a true gem of the Sci-fi and Adventure genres.