Heads Will Roll by Lish McBride

Heads Will Roll - Lish McBride

Back when Julius Ceasar ruled the Roman Empire, gladiator games were all the rage. Humans – usually criminals – fought with wild animals for the cheap entertainment of an audience that cared far more for a “good show”, than the lives lost and bloodshed.

This story is a gladiatorial game with mythological creatures. Here, unicorns are fighters.

[…] train them like you train dogs for a cage match. Get them young, young as you can. Starve them. Beat them. Slip blood into their milk. Give them a taste for it. Keep them hungry and angry all the time. Pervert them until they don’t know which way is up anymore. That’s how you make a unicorn, a natural pacifist, a fighter.

This story is also prologue to the Necromancer series, which is a bad, bad thing for people like me, whose to-read list of books is numbered in the hundreds. It does not help that I like the characters and the way they were written and don’t mind reading more of them.

The unicorn of the story is Steve, nicknamed Phantom. Neither of the names are what people would associate with unicorns. He wasn’t trained to the methods above, but when he enters a fight with his partner Lena, it always ends unexpectedly, because they weren’t there to play by the rules, they were there to beat the rules. Chaos reign, and then they ride off heroically – or at least, that’s the plan. The second part doesn’t always happen, but is the preferred ending, anyway.

We’re supposed to be badasses, walking off into the sunset, the smell of victory in the air. Your sneezing fit is ruining our image.”