I take anthologies very seriously, so when given the choice to read one selection from the Shades of Chaos anthology, I went through each book and read a passage or two. Then with actually not much deliberation at all, I chose to read and review Initiation and Dissension by Katie Salidas. Now since Dissension is quite a bit longer than Initiation, which is a handful of pages and merely describes Mira's first battle in the arena as a gladiator and her thoughts on her last day of freedom and the terrible agony her capture caused her, I will be focusing mainly on that piece in this review.
First of all, let me just state that I love the series prologue. The basic history of what happened to lead us to this moment in the story where Dissension starts. It describes two species, shaken up by terrifying events that led them to restart their entire society. Vampires and humans had to work together in the beginning, but things take a turn when the humans find a way to come out on top. And come out on top they shall...which is how the games themselves started. Vampires, which have been considered the epitome of evil for centuries, are now the victims. Having to shed blood for the humans' amusement just to be able to feed on a regular basis. You win, more rations. You lost, you either die quickly, if you are lucky, or are tortured by light. Not enough to kill, but enough so you feel every ray. It's enough to make this human want to go inside this book and be one of the opposers of this atrocity. I want to be one of the rebels who helps Mira out in her and the Regent's mission to stop this.
But I am getting ahead of myself...
Dissension takes place thirty years after Mira was placed in her first battle in the arena. Thirty years after she learned she needed to do whatever it took to survive. She has become the best fighter of her region, but she has yet to succumb to her enslavers. Which I absolutely love. Her attitude may get her in trouble, but it is that very attitude that had me rooting for her from the very beginning. Some characters are quiet until a chance at retribution reveals itself and they take it, fighting against the forces working against them, and that works for them. But Mira never failed to find a reason to fight back, even if it was just with a few choice words, or, in her case, A LOT of them. There was a couple of cases where I thought the snark was unnecessary and where it would have benefited her and possibly the story itself if she was quiet and simply assessed her surroundings, but other than that, I absolutely thought she was a great character and one to definitely watch.
Now I actually would have liked more of the Regent's own point of view throughout the story. He is the one who becomes Mira's Patron after meeting her in a way that could have basically signed Mira's own death warrant. But after meeting with him a few times and talking, which is not usually what a Patron would do with their hosted fighter, she realizes that he is not like all the other humans. Well, she actually goes back and forth between thinking this and thinking that he is just like all the others, because honestly, the humans have given her no reason to trust any of their kind. But it is after a particularly heavy fight, one that nearly kills Mira, that things take a turn toward her possibly being able to trust him with the information she knows and which he asks of her.
This story is definitely full of action, a bit of humor, and is absolutely a wonderful start to the entire Chronicles of the Uprising series. It needs a few tweaks here and there and could do with a bit more meat to the story, mainly another point of view, as stated earlier, sprinkled throughout, to make it seem a bit more whole, but other than that it is one worth reading. I am putting the series on my TBR list because I have to know if Mira gains the freedom she so craves. This story made me feel for the vampire race. It made me long for humans to understand that in this case, they have become the monsters.