As is well known by now, I loved the old “sword and sandal” movies like ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators’ and any version of ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’, as well as more modern works like Starz’s ‘Spartacus’ series. So the idea of writing a scifi romance series involving futuristic gladiators has always been on my mind.
And for those who wonder why my scifi gladiators wear what looks remarkably like ancient Roman uniforms – hey, it’s cool looking, it says ‘gladiator’ immediately and as a kid I imprinted on Demetrius’s dramatic, swirling red cape in that movie. I carefully established in the first book that the citizens of the galaxy Hinterlands have a romantic, inaccurate view of their own historical past and therefore the gladiatorial ‘industry’ relives the imagined glories of the old days, complete with ancient weapons…and red cloaks. There’s a lot of world building to my gladiatorial system, and readers have said it reminds them of various forms of highly organized professional sports in our time, among other influences. (I also did a lot of research on the actual Roman gladiators.)
In the first book, KYDEN, I told the story of a Badari warrior who’d been smuggled out of the Khagrish lab where he was genetically engineered and sold into lifelong slavery as a gladiator. When the book opens, he’s been in the Hinterlands for a very long time and has risen to the top of the standings. He falls in love with a Senator’s daughter.
For RENNYR, I wanted to tell the story of a Badari who has just arrived in the first circles of the hell that is the gladiator world and has to find his way. He’s disoriented, rebellious and not open to advice about how to get along. And he misses his pack…he has no idea there are any other Badari in the Hinterlands.
The heroine, Jaine, is an ordinary person, kidnapped by pirates who took over the ship she was travelling on, and who is to serve as one of a crowd of unfortunates to be fodder for a death match to amuse the masses. But when she and Rennyr glimpse each other in passing, he knows she’s his Fated Mate, and he’ll do anything to save her.
Having a couple who were new to life in the gladiator industry and who had to figure it all out on the fly, while sharing a cell and a bed, was a fun challenge and a way to tell a fresh story with the gladiator tropes. (And to write a few spicy scenes as their attachment to each other deepens…)
When I’m asked why I like writing science fiction, I always respond that it’s in part because there are no limits and I’m not constrained by the realities of our own planet and current understanding of the universe. In this novel I threw in an episode which was a major nod to one of my own favorite SF novels/movies – in a single word – Triffids. These are my own creation, however, using the trope of man-eating plants, which is rooted (see what I did there?) in the very real idea of the Venus flytrap (carnivorous plants) and has been used over and over in SF, from the original 1951 “The Thing from Another World” movie to “Little Shop of Horrors”. It was a fun sequence to write!
I also enjoyed developing a pair of supporting characters – an old, retired fighter who gives Rennyr advice he desperately needs and an influencer who shares a lot of hard truths with Jaine along the way.
And perhaps some old friends make an appearance. Just sayin’.
Here’s the blurb:
RENNYR (BADARI GLADIATORS BOOK TWO) by Veronica Scott
Rennyr was a genetically engineered senior soldier in his Badari Warrior pack until one day he woke up on a strange planet naked, disoriented and about to be sold into the gladiator arena for the rest of his life. Unscrupulous guards faked his death in the lab where he was created and sold him into slavery in the galaxy’s hinterlands. Kill or be killed is the rule in his new life and a Badari never gives up. He’ll fight to stay alive until the Badari goddess sees fit to decree his death and release him from the wretched existence.
Jaine Mitchel of the Sectors was on her way to an exciting research internship until pirates seized the spaceship on which she was a passenger and took her to feature in a gladiator ‘death match’ in the galactic hinterlands. She has no hope of surviving in the arena until a man she only glimpsed in passing breaks out of his cell and saves her life, declaring her to be his fated mate.
Given to Rennyr as his reward for winning the death match, Jaine must share a cell and a bed with the handsome, not human, gladiator and together they have to find a way to survive in this merciless world of violence and death. Their mutual attraction is off the charts. Falling in love is the easy part, finding a way to escape or even to remain together is the challenge. At any time their mutual owner could decide thumbs up or thumbs down on one or both of them, or sell them separately.
Their only hope is a mysterious gladiator master from offworld who may be coming to buy Rennyr. Will he take Jaine as well? Could Rennyr win freedom for them both if he does well enough in the arena?
Badari Warriors claim their mates for life and Rennyr has no intention of losing Jaine…
RENNYR is an 80K word novel and can be read as a standalone. KYDEN is the first book in the series.