All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father's latest debt, Rath doesn't know what to do. There's no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father's debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it's back to trying to live a quiet life…
Previous attempts at Megan Derr’s older books have been somewhat hit-or-miss, but the summary for Tournament of Losers sounded like something right up my alley, so I decided to give it a go. And that was an EXCELLENT DECISION, y’all!
Tournament of Losers is the BEST Megan Derr book I’ve read yet! I think it’s a combo of increased writing skills + many tropes I adore + completely adorable characters + wonderful worldbuilding. One of my complaints about MD’s earlier books was the treatment/lack of women characters, how everybody’s white, and sometimes-weird chemistry between the leads. With her newer books, many of those things have been addressed. For instance, in Tournament of Losers there’s some nifty things with gender1, several wonderful discussions about class and what it means to be prosperous, and there are heaps of women and people of color (including the heroes!) to please even super-picky me. It’s obvious MD’s improved in not only her writing style, but also her world-construction, character development skills, and overall quality of work. Yay!
I haven’t even gotten into the plot, but it’s heaps of fun– balanced with some emotional/sad things, of course. It’s not a fluffy cotton ball story, no matter how much I squee over the characters and how cute they are. But it IS highly enjoyable, not only for the satisfaction of the romance but also for how, despite the familiar one-a-quest/winning a lover storyline is, the many unique details to the world and characters keep it feeling fresh and fun.
Honestly, I could read twenty more books like Tournament of Losers and be a very happy person!
Read: January 2, 2016
- including the presence of genderqueer tertiary characters. ↩