Title: Ill Met in the Arena
Author: Dave Duncan
Genre: Heroic Fantasy
Recommendation: Solid stand-alone heroic fantasy.
Summary: Quirt of Mundil has a doom set upon him to find The Enemy. For many years he searches for the signs of the man until he finally learns who The Enemy is. A plan starts to come together when Quirt is to fight The Enemy's son in the bronze games.
Reactions: I've read a number of books by Dave Duncan, most of them heroic fantasy and I find he has an outstanding talent for creating new worlds with their own culture and magic systems. Hence, I picked up the book knowing I would not be disappointed and I wasn't. Ill Met in the Arena is solid heroic fantasy with a fast-moving plot set in an interesting new world.
The world is developed on the premise that some men and women developed new psychic powers and created an elite ruling class. Women's psychic powers run to interpersonal skills such as reading minds, psychic communication, and even the ability to change one's personality. Men's psychic powers are more physical, their powers are telekinesis and teleportation.
With the powers divided in this way, women are the Hegemons in the seats of power with men chosen as their consorts based on how well they do in a magical duel called the games. It's a pretty interesting version of the world, where the caste depends on how much magical power your ancestors have and genealogy is paid a lot of attention.
The plot itself is a fast paced story following Quirt as he searches to pushing The Enemy who ruined his life. I didn't find a whole lot of depth in the story, but it's a good read where hero will overcome all obstacles and everything gets wrapped up by the end of the book. A nice safe pick of a good unpretentious fantasy story.