Today I’m reviewing Rise of a Champion by Stuart Rudge, Book 1 in the Legend of the Cid series.
I stumbled upon Stuart Rudge by chance while on Twitter, promoting his 1st book. I had a lot on my TBR list but I liked the sound of the plot so I thought what the hell.. I’ll buy a copy. Now I’m the first to admit word of mouth tempts me in…and I started to notice others tweeting about this book..every day, 2 or 3 mentions…then when I heard book 2 was just about to be released I thought it high time I find out what the fuss is about.
Here is the blurb –
Antonio Perez is the son of a knight and a returning war hero, yet he loathes the idea of following in his father’s footsteps. But when his father is executed for alleged treason against Fernando, King of Leon-Castile, he launches a desperate bid to save his life and clear his name. Antonio soon learns that the world is much crueller and darker than he ever could have imagined.
Bereft of hope and condemned to slavery for his sins, he finds himself in the household of a young knight named Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a man destined for greatness. Together, they must face their demons and put an end to the man responsible for the downfall of the fathers; known as Azarola, renowned for his fox like cunning and malice, and one of the most powerful lords of Leon.
Rise of a Champion is the epic beginning to the Legend of the Cid.
Antonio is book smart.. he’s not like his father, a war hero, and he’s got very little common with his brother too. Little does he know his life is soon to change and his strengths and weaknesses will be put to the test.
For Antonio life is simple.. he loves to learn and only has eyes for 2 things.. books and Jimena, the daughter of a local count.
Things are not meant to be easy for Antonio and he is to be separated from the girl he yearns for.. he’s going to learn to be a fighter one way or another if his dad has anything to say about it!
Things don’t quite go to plan.
Tragedy soon strikes a heavy blow when Antonio’s father is executed for treason! A crime he did not commit.. but what can Antonio do about it? He’s got to save his own neck first as the men charged with the execution want him too!
From there his life hits a downward spiral. He survives with this brother and cousin at his side but they are very much chalk and cheese.. Inigo his brother is mean and controlling and they are soon involved in events Antonio will live to regret.
I’m not going to spoil what happens but as the synopsis suggests Antonio soon ends in the household of Rodrigo, a fair but harsh man when needed. This relationship sees Antonio grow from a boy into a man.. a man Antonio never thought he would be.. A man his father would be proud to see.
War is brewing and with this comes the chance to exact revenge on the person Antonio believes is responsible for his fathers death.. Azarola.. it’s not going to be easy though.
What I really enjoyed with this tale more than anything was the mix of detail and plot.. the fight scenes were immense and heart stoppingly gripping..not only did you get an overall picture of events of the period the tale is set but you get to see it from Antonio’s eyes, blinkered at times.. with sight only for Azarola.. but can that hatred and lust be tamed? It’s a great balance of history and the authors creative skills allowing him to stamp his mark on the world.
I also really enjoyed that we get to meet Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who will become known as El Cid, through the eyes of Antonio. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve heard the name.. and heard of the movie from the 60s but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. I love when an author can help introduce me to real history while writing their tale..Not only do a get a wonderful book to read but afterwards I find myself doing my own research.. reading more..and now I can’t wait to get to grips with book 2 in the series!
I love history but largely my knowledge is what I learned at school… so very little since there’s so much out there to learn.. teachers can’t possibly share it all. I really do believe tales this this have a big part to play in keeping history alive. Loved it!