Five-star review of Grand Ellipse by Paula
This book was surprisingly enjoyable to read. I thought it would be like Around the World in Eighty Days, but it was so much more. In a fantasy world, a self-styled adept has created a form of fire that is green and responds to his mental commands. The rulers other nations in the world all want this potential military weapon, but the king who sponsors the adept claims neutrality. The king is portrayed as a man who has whims and when he does he follows them whole-heartedly. His latest is to sponsor a contest, the Grand Ellipse, in which contestants from many nations follow a prescribed route through many countries. The government of Vonahr sends two entrants, a woman they hope will win and then get the ear of the King to offer a substantial sum for the so-called Sentient Fire, and a man to make sure she wins. The series of experiences are mostly followed through the eyes of this woman, Luzelle Devaire, and many are much more dangerous than anything Phineas Fogg ever encountered. Along the way she, the other contestants, and the reader learn about the atrocities the nation of Grewzia are willing to inflict on the peoples of the lands they’ve recently conquered or otherwise made part of their imperium. The political angle of the story brings to mind the land grabs by Germany during WWII, but also more recent events.