The Birr Elixir (Book 1 of the Legend of the Gamesmen) by Jo Sparkes
Before I even read this book I was rather drawn in by the blurb and intriguing cover. As you journey through the story, you realize how much Jo Sparkes has put into her book. For a little while you are concerned with the affairs of a whole new set of friends, enemies and events in another world.
Marra, a young healer’s apprentice, finds herself the Brista of a group of men who play a dangerous and hazardous sport. Drail, their leader, asks Marra for a special potion to give them extra strength and speed as they face the fearsome Skullan team – and Marra finds herself trying to make the secret Birr Elixir. Marra must overcome her doubt and believe in the hope of a new future.
Drail and his comrades save Marra as well as another man from an unsavoury character, aka the shopkeeper. The tall young man is stuck in a deep sleep induced by some powerful magic or drug. Bad intentions are obvious and they must tread with caution as they travel across the land to take part in more tournaments, all the while being chased by those who for some reason want the sleeping prince dead.
Tryst wakes and Marra finds herself torn between doing the right thing and being able to keep her place as Drail’s Brista and forge a new life for herself. Matters become more and more complicated and Marra must make a choice and let her inner strength really show through.
This is a wonderful story that just sucked me in from the first few pages. There are secrets and delicious intrigue that keep you guessing. It is rather short, but that does not detract at all from the ability of the narrative to grow and mature successfully. The characters are true to themselves and well developed, dialogue is smooth and the book is a well-rounded, charming read. Skilfully written, colourful and exciting, I enjoyed the Birr Elixir immensely and looking forward to the next book.
Four stars ****