The Collar and the Cavvarach
Annie Douglass Lima
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?
The only thing Bensin wants is for his little sister to be freed from slavery. But that is nearly impossible, since he is a slave himself. In the meantime, Bensin is sold to a martial arts coach who sees Bensin’s potential to go to the toughest competitions. If Bensin wins, he might have enough prize money to buy his sister’s freedom…if his master allows him to, if she isn’t sold to someone else, if, if, if…
I quite enjoyed The Collar and the Cavvarach.
It was set in a world with the same technology we have in the present, except that slavery was never abolished. There were various laws to make slavery more humane, especially for children, but it still existed and it was still horrible for the characters. Imagine being bought and sold like a piece of furniture or an animal! The characters had some freedom from the laws, such as having a day off sometimes, during which they were able to hire out to earn money toward their freedom or something basic like candy. All slaves were forced to wear collars with identification chips, making it nearly impossible to escape unnoticed, especially when the officials started putting tracking devices inside them. One more thing I should mention was that slavery was not based on race. Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, the slaves were the conquered nations—not that they were less human but that they lost the war. All this to say, Annie Douglass Lima did an excellent job with world building!
In the same vein, the author literally invented a form of martial arts. The cavvarach, which is on the book cover, is a sword with a hook in the middle of it. The hook is used to, well, hook the opponent’s weapon and twist it out of their hands. The fighting matches are a combination of the hand/kick fighting styles and the use of the weapon. It was fascinating to learn about! It makes me wonder if such a thing would work well as a real sport; someone needs to try it! Again, I admire the author’s creation of this cool fighting style.
Then, there are the characters and the plot. For once, the main character, as a teenage boy, is not spending his time trying to impress his girlfriend. Instead, Bensin is focused on his defenseless sister. It was refreshing and touching to see his care for her; a sibling who would go to the ends of the earth to help the other. That was not the only inspiring relationship in the novel, either. I enjoyed watching the friendship and mentorship between Bensin and his new master grow through all the trials of the novel.
For those reasons, I believe The Collar and the Cavvarach was very well written. I enjoyed nearly every second I spent reading it and would recommend it in a heartbeat. It is somewhat similar to Karate Kid and I would recommend it to fans of such.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.