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Jumping Rings by Lyn Thorne-Alder

They're willing to kneel in order to climb. 

In the world of the Circled Plain, most of humanity lives within walled cities, protected from the monsters outside.

The cities’ walls are nested, circle within circle within circle, and the richest and most powerful live the deepest in the city.

They call the social and economic climb from the outer rings towards the inner the Ladder. The climb is hard, but there are always ways to jump rungs.

Chapters alternate between the two protagonists – Taslin, who has chosen to become a Gladiator to jump up the Ladder, and Valran, who has bent knee as a Servus for the same purpose. Follow their story, starting here.

Note: Jumping Rings is unfinished, with no recent updates.  It contains some graphic sexual content and graphic violence.


A partial series, with no recent updates

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Listed: Oct 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

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Dystopian Magic

By Palladian, editor, author of Super

Apr 24, 2016: One of the things I liked about Jumping Rings is that you’re jumping into the deep end right away with the story. As readers, we follow the parallel stories of Taslin, a young woman who chooses to become a gladiator, and Valran, a young man who chooses to become a slave, both in order to climb in their position in society into the inner rings of their civilization, which ensures safety against everything that’s being walled out.

I really liked the way the author lets the details of the world come out to the reader as we watch the characters’ journeys into their new situations, and the way we’re left to wonder about some things and theorize about others. The author also does a good job of slowly fleshing out the characters to readers, something I enjoyed a good deal as I read.

We’re presented with the evidence of the dystopian society in the immediate storyline, but magic takes a while longer to establish itself as part of the story, although it’s hinted at for a while beforehand. I liked the way the author used hints and teases to make the reader wonder what was to come. I found the writing in general compelling, well edited, and fun to read.

I would give this story a higher ranking, but it is unfinished, which is problematic for some. If you don’t mind that sort of thing, I recommend the story to anyone who likes a well-told tale about futuristic dystopian societies, especially those with some magic to them.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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Starting to Climb

By Unillustrated, author of Citadel

Oct 24, 2014: Jumping Rings is a little hard to describe. The title comes from the setting. A very class heavy, almost caste-like, fantasy world. A city is divided into 10 "rings" with the innermost being the wealthiest and the outer most being the poorest. There are a few terms that are hard to follow at first. Most of these deal with gender, (male female or neutral) but it’s not completely clear whether that’s down to a physical difference or a difference in identity.

Everyone has to earn their final ring/status, it seems even the children of the most influential are not guaranteed a life in the first ring. Though they do seem to get a few advantages. Those without advantages can follow other paths. The story’s protagonists, Valran and Taslin, enter into a form of voluntary slavery.

One will be used in gladiator style pit fights while the other is a body servant. It’s pretty clear that both are ambitious and determined. The servant slave is utterly unsurprised when the first questions asked during his auction concern the sexual acts he’s capable of performing without showing his revulsion. The gladiator has to balance her need to put on a good show with the knowledge that too much showboating could get her killed in the ring.

It strikes an interesting balance but the story isn’t quite perfect. As I mentioned, some of the terminology is a little confusing. That’s not a big deal, pretty much par for the course in any original fantasy setting. The gladiator’s story line doesn’t feel quite right. She picks up the relevant skills a little too fast and I didn’t get the same feeling of physical danger with her as I did with the body servant.

Some of the current ‘off’ notes could easily be resolved by future revelations. It’s too early to get the full scope but there are clear and obvious indicators of intrigue in both storylines. It wouldn’t be shocking to learn that either is a plant of some sort, maybe a ringer.

If the intrigue pays off as well as I hope it does, this story could be very engaging. With that in mind, if you aren’t bothered by a story that treats people as commodities or human life as disposable, this is well worth a look.

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