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Panacea is written by Alex Robbins. This fantasy novel is divided into two parts. Part one: Foreboding opens with Dexios training his son, Keres, in one on one combat. Keres is an ephebe(a student training to be a warrior) for Thena. While at home, Nambe, Dexios’ slave, alerts them to a Tauros encounter. Tauros were half man, half bull creatures who lived beyond the mountain ranges. Dexios gathers a group of men and takes Keres to fight the monster. Keres manages to kill the diseased monster, but not without losing two of their people. Keres arrives at the school and is telling his tale of the Tauros to his friend Tychos. Helydices admonishes him and calls him a liar. Elena, the sophistes, enters the room and separates the boys. She sends them to Galleas, the battle teacher, to prepare for the following day. Elena looked to Galleas as a friend and father figure. The ephebic trials were occurring the following day. If the boys successfully completed the trials they would receive their aspis with an emblem of their choice. During the trials, Helydices intentionally breaks Tychos’ arm and has Keres attacked by thugs in the street. While the boys are celebrating their graduation, Polydius rushes to Thena with a message for Letho, the basileus (leader) of the city. Tauros herds were moving across the mountains and Ruxia was in danger of their attack. Letho agrees to have Thena warriors aid Ruxia. Dexios is forced to lead the troops to battle. Part Two: Denial shows Polydius' betrayal and the death of Tychos, Keres, Galleas, and Helydices devastated Dexios. Dexios, Nambe, and a mercenary, Krinne, head to the Oracle. Dexios wants to bring his son back. Meanwhile, Polydius has led the Tauros to Thena. Elena learns that Letho has an underground tunnel system that leads beyond the walls of the city. She manages to gain the trust of Graycea, Makar, and his father Desha as the Tauros break down the door of the city. What happens to Dexios? Does Elena make it safely past the Tauros into the palace to escape. Why did Polydius betray the Thena troops, where they were slaughtered mercilessly? These questions all get answered in Panacea. I found this book thrilling to read. I was shocked at the amount of death and hoped that Dexios would be able to bring Keres back from Tartarus. This is the first book of a series, as several questions are left unanswered. Nambe and Krinne went to the palace but I am unsure if they made it to safety. The appearance of Zeus and Hades hit me out of left field. I never expected them and it added a delightful twist to the entire story. I would caution readers who are sensitive to blood and gore from violence to possibly avoid the book. However, anyone who likes reading fantasy stories with a lot of action and valiant warriors, will enjoy every moment of Panacea.





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