I was very happy when R. H. Russell asked me to review Venture Unleashed. I reviewed the first book in the series, Venture Untamed, and really enjoyed it. For those of you who didn’t read my review of Venture Untamed, Russell has had many years of martial arts training, and this makes the fight sequences especially realistic. The book picks up right where Venture Untamed left us, as Venture Delving arrives at the Champions Center to begin training for a place in the ultimate fighting competition and secure the title of Champion of All Richland.
At the Champions Center Venture meets two legends in the fighting world: Dasher Starson and Will Fisher, both past champions. He soon finds out that his path to victory will be rocky. In an attempt to put the new kid in his place, Venture is beaten unconscious by Dasher, but earns his respect by not backing down. After Starson decides to leave the Champions Center and strike out on his own, he takes Venture with him.
Along the way they meet a precocious runaway named Chance who latches onto Venture and becomes his constant companion, and after some time on the road, training and working with Dash, they return to Twin Rivers for some time off. There Venture inevitably runs into Jade, his life-long friend and the girl he loves but can never have, and their reunion is fraught with tension, since Venture swore to her father that he wouldn’t pursue a relationship with her. He tries to be proper and respectful around Jade, but it is clear he is struggling and only wants to declare his love.
Dealing with his feelings for Jade is only one of many obstacles that Venture must face before the story ends. When he finally gets his chance to compete for the ultimate title, enemies resurface and threaten not only his chances of winning, but his very life as well. Venture must overcome injuries, jealousies, and hatred before things get better.
Russell’s writing is smooth and flowing, which I especially appreciated. Although the subject matter, hand-to-hand combat, is not something I usually seek out to read, I found myself cheering for Venture along with all his friends. Russell has given Venture the admirable qualities of duty and honor, but he also struggles with his temper, which makes him a very human character. He also displays an important trait of many successful athletes, which is the ability to push through the pain and continue to compete. The constant threat that the crested, or elite, are trying to get rid of the Championship is a driving force throughout the story, and it makes for some great tension.
The character of Venture is a testament to anyone who has been put down and ostracized for being different, and had the strength to overcome those obstacles. Russell has created a hero in Venture that shines a light on the tenacity of the human spirit.
Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy of the book.
You can visit the author’s website here and purchase Venture Unleashed here. And if you still want more of Venture and his friends (and enemies!), Russell has written a novelette called Boundless that you can purchase here.