Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings, #1) - Lindsey Piper What a brutal and great novel!!!

Since the first sentences it made me cringe. The labs, the unknown training facility, the brutal first encounter between Audrey and Leto… it was almost overwhelming!

Audrey/Nynn is a mother whose child has been taken away from her to be experimented upon by a sadistic mob scientist; she’s been his experiment too and she knows what he will do to her child; she’s a wife whose husband has been killed in front of her…

Leto is a Cage-warrior. He’s brutal, he’s cold, he’s a monster. He sold his life for his family. He knows that he will die when he’s not useful any more to the mob organizing the cage-fights, and he’s ready for that without regrets.

His assignment is to train Audrey to become a Cage-warrior. He will do anything and everything to keep her alive for three fights because he was promised his comatose sister will be helped.

Audrey and Leto clash. Audrey is fighting against Leto and Leto is treating her accordingly: he humiliates her, he hits her, he pushes her in every way! It was difficult to read his training methods… and it was difficult to read about Audrey’s reactions. It was also difficult to read about their reasons of doing what they’re doing to each other.

The story is very complex: there’re layers and layers in it. There’s the paranormal angle: they’re Dragon Kings – being with special abilities and superhuman powers which in the case of Cage-warriors and “lab-filth” (subject experimented upon) are muted by slave-like collars. There’s the human mob involvement. There’s the competition within the Dragon-Lord Clans. There’s the fact that the Dragon Lords are a species on the edge of extinction. There’s mother’s love for her child and her readiness to do everything in her power to save her child. There’s the brother’s love for his sisters. There’s so much in this book that is absolutely impossible to write a review for each thing!

The best parts is the very slow and gradual change in Leto from tormentor to friend to lover. It was masterfully done. Also Audrey’s acceptance of Leto is wonderful. Their relationship grows and grows until a fantastic union!

Great book and great start of a series! I’ll be looking forward to the next one!