Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: MM Fantasy
Narrator: Michael Stellman
All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father’s latest debt, Rath doesn’t know what to do. There’s no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father’s debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it’s back to trying to live a quiet life…
As a rule, I’m not a huge fan of fantasy, but Megan Derr’s Tournament of Losers was sufficiently fabulous to capture my flighty attention in the opening lines. One thing I liked about Tournament of Losers was Derr’s fantasy world in which gay is seen as utterly tolerable and ordinary. Imagine such a world if you can.
Derr has a crisp, clean writing style that will keep you turning the pages, or listening to the audiobook. The pacing was perfect. The plot was straightforward. The characters become fully-developed by more showing than telling. (I admire that in an author’s writing style.)
Main character Rath; a sometimes dock worker, sometimes pickpocket, sometimes whore; is barely making ends meet, but he manages. His derelict father is his greatest pain in the ass. “Hoighty-toighty” Tress, the love interest, gets a crash course on how the other half lives. There are numerous secondary characters with whom you’ll quickly identify, understand their lots in life, and find believable (mind you, this is a fantasy novel), thanks to Derr’s no-nonsense writing abilities.
Narrator Michael Stellman was as outstanding as the writer in plying his craft. This is the first time I’ve listened to an audiobook performed by Mr. Stellman. It won’t be my last.
Tournament of Losers is a simple, heart-warming tale that will stir your sentiments and passions. I highly recommend this one either in print or audiobook.