Gladius and the Bartlet Trial is the tale of fifteen year old Gladius Oldmont's epic adventure into adulthood. The Bartlett Trial is a journey that all Wiggins must complete at the age of fifteen in order to be considered an adult. So Gladius, filled with his father's stories, believes he is ready to journey into the Longwood Forest and become a legend in his 17th century village and beyond. Besides the usual stresses of the trial, Gladius is also being relied on to win prize money so that his family can keep their farm, and he always lends a helping hand to those he meets along the way - taking on a lot of extra responsibilities. But somehow, he manages to keep up a steady pace and face every obstacle, (scimitar cats, death bats, dragons, etc.), with bravery, intelligence, and the survival skills he's been taught since childhood. He even manages to make friends along the way, including Elle, a beautiful girl. Unfortunately, he also runs into Mulhurt, an evil tyrant, who terrorizes all the surrounding lands in search of an ancient absolute power. Now he must decide whether to continue his trial, or join forces against Mulhurt and save everything he cares about. Can he find the ancient power before Mulhurt does, and prevent the destruction of his home?
For a first time author, J. A. Paul definitely knows how to craft an epic story-line, as well as fully developed characters and dialogue richly detailed in "story-teller" fashion. Even me, a college-aged woman, enjoyed the fast-paced and fantastical realm created by the author, so I know middle schoolers and older grades will be excited and entertained by this read; especially since I have already been begged by two cousins and a nephew, (ages 11, 13, and 15), to lend out this book. Not only is it a great book for kids, but I believe that it is a great opportunity for parents to read with their kids and get involved. There is so much to learn from this book, including survival skills and life lessons, that I think kids would be really interested in; I know I was! I hear that this is the first in a trilogy, so I can't wait for the next installment, and I will be passing my copy along to a few kids who I know will love it. I could see this becoming some sort of anime or graphic novel, and I will keep an eye out for any other books by J. A. Paul; another book to review coming soon, I hope? I recommend this action-packed adventure to kids 9 and up!
Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)
*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.