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Tribute at the Gates: An Epic Fantasy Saga (Catalyst Book 1)

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Cursed from birth. Forced into slavery. It's time to fight back. The blood of the Ancients is the most coveted ingredient in all of Damaris. The fabled elixir made from it grants those who drink it life that extends far beyond natural means. There is no higher honor in the kingdom then being granted the privilege of bidding for it. And the people found with the cursed blood? Cursed from birth. Forced into slavery. It's time to fight back. The blood of the Ancients is the most coveted ingredient in all of Damaris. The fabled elixir made from it grants those who drink it life that extends far beyond natural means. There is no higher honor in the kingdom then being granted the privilege of bidding for it. And the people found with the cursed blood? By law, they are the rightful property of the kingdom. They are tributes. As a boy, Ryl was sold by his family when he was discovered to have the coveted blood flowing through his veins. Broken, scared, and confused, he’s confined to an area known as the Stocks until he is ready for harvesting. Ryl stumbles through a doomed life until the appearance of a mysterious stranger who exposes a buried version of the past that changes everything. That his blood may not be a curse, but a blessing. The fates of all the tributes hang in the balance. Experience the start of an debut Epic Fantasy Series filled with unexpected heroes, dark magic, and non-stop adventure. Suitable for all ages, it's perfect for fans of D.K. Holmberg, Will Wight, and K.F. Breene.


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Cursed from birth. Forced into slavery. It's time to fight back. The blood of the Ancients is the most coveted ingredient in all of Damaris. The fabled elixir made from it grants those who drink it life that extends far beyond natural means. There is no higher honor in the kingdom then being granted the privilege of bidding for it. And the people found with the cursed blood? Cursed from birth. Forced into slavery. It's time to fight back. The blood of the Ancients is the most coveted ingredient in all of Damaris. The fabled elixir made from it grants those who drink it life that extends far beyond natural means. There is no higher honor in the kingdom then being granted the privilege of bidding for it. And the people found with the cursed blood? By law, they are the rightful property of the kingdom. They are tributes. As a boy, Ryl was sold by his family when he was discovered to have the coveted blood flowing through his veins. Broken, scared, and confused, he’s confined to an area known as the Stocks until he is ready for harvesting. Ryl stumbles through a doomed life until the appearance of a mysterious stranger who exposes a buried version of the past that changes everything. That his blood may not be a curse, but a blessing. The fates of all the tributes hang in the balance. Experience the start of an debut Epic Fantasy Series filled with unexpected heroes, dark magic, and non-stop adventure. Suitable for all ages, it's perfect for fans of D.K. Holmberg, Will Wight, and K.F. Breene.

30 review for Tribute at the Gates: An Epic Fantasy Saga (Catalyst Book 1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I was very impressed with CJ Aaron’s first novel. The deeper and deeper you get into the story, the more and more you want to read. You feel a genuine connection to the main character, the plot is interesting, and the pacing of the action vs. story building is well done. My only critiques would be that I’d like to see further character development of the villains, and there were some typos in the text (though the later is more a problem with the editor than it is with the story or the author). O I was very impressed with CJ Aaron’s first novel. The deeper and deeper you get into the story, the more and more you want to read. You feel a genuine connection to the main character, the plot is interesting, and the pacing of the action vs. story building is well done. My only critiques would be that I’d like to see further character development of the villains, and there were some typos in the text (though the later is more a problem with the editor than it is with the story or the author). Overall I thought the book was a really solid debut for Mr. Aaron. I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Casey White

    A Tribute at the Gates was a solid, well-measured read that kept me interested enough to read until the end! Grammatically, it was quite good for an independently published book - there were a few places that could have benefited from another read-over, but it wasn't enough to pull me out of it. I do feel that the pacing between about 10 and 30 percent of the way through the book could be improved, as there was a lengthy section of exposition that didn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of t A Tribute at the Gates was a solid, well-measured read that kept me interested enough to read until the end! Grammatically, it was quite good for an independently published book - there were a few places that could have benefited from another read-over, but it wasn't enough to pull me out of it. I do feel that the pacing between about 10 and 30 percent of the way through the book could be improved, as there was a lengthy section of exposition that didn't seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the piece. This was a bit of a stumbling block for me in reading it, but I'm glad I pushed through. There were a few instances of inconsistency in how characters acted versus how they spoke which had me questioning, but not enough to make me want to stop altogether. I also questioned the Master's motivations, as he seemed to be willing to go to greater lengths than seemed reasonable over a grudge. Overall, I'm glad I read this book, and I'll definitely be watching to see where it goes! The MC is relatable and sympathetic, and the author does an excellent job of building tension throughout the book. Given the book's ending, which both ties off the current arc while priming the reader for the next, I'll be reading on when book 2 hits the digital shelves!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barefoot Gypsy Jimerson

    The Catalyst comes!!!! This was a book I was asked to give a look see. To tell the truth when I started I wasn't t sure if I would like it just from the sneak peek I read. But page after page I got the feeling this was reminder that you can't always go by the sneak peek. The Catalyst is a story about ppl being caged for the blood in other veins an rice buy them so they live longer lives. They have no names an r branded till they hit there time to leave the small in closer. No one knows what happe The Catalyst comes!!!! This was a book I was asked to give a look see. To tell the truth when I started I wasn't t sure if I would like it just from the sneak peek I read. But page after page I got the feeling this was reminder that you can't always go by the sneak peek. The Catalyst is a story about ppl being caged for the blood in other veins an rice buy them so they live longer lives. They have no names an r branded till they hit there time to leave the small in closer. No one knows what happens when they leave. But one young man stands out from them all an fights in his own way to keep them safe form the master. When it's time for him to go there are forces of the outside world that will help go free. He is the Catalyst because what runs in his veins is different. I won't give to much away it will spoil your fun in reading this series. Aaron has a great story to give an a journey for the taken with Ryl while he learns who he is an how to use the power that has been given to him by the woods an others. How he helps his friends that he had to leave behind. Aaron hit his mark on this series. Outstanding writing an read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gil T

    Sold by his family, transported by cage Every eight year old gets tested for blood of the ancients. It is not hereditary, it almost seems random. Families that have children with this blood can run. They will eventually get caught and slaughtered in front on their child. Or the family can sell the child and be set for life. Ryl is found to have the blood and is sold by his family. All children that are found to have the blood are sent to the Stocks were they live out their lives until their harve Sold by his family, transported by cage Every eight year old gets tested for blood of the ancients. It is not hereditary, it almost seems random. Families that have children with this blood can run. They will eventually get caught and slaughtered in front on their child. Or the family can sell the child and be set for life. Ryl is found to have the blood and is sold by his family. All children that are found to have the blood are sent to the Stocks were they live out their lives until their harvest time. The harvest time is determined by the amount of Ancient’s blood they have. This way the rich family that bought the child can get the most of elixir from the child. It helps these families live long lives and get power. They are called tributes. The 200+ guards are there to supposedly guard against outside threats as well as quash any rebels internally. But realistically, they are a sadistic bunch that are being punished for conduct in the regular army. They treat the children poorly and abuse them. One day as Ryl is working he stumbles into the forest and finds the forest changing. He runs into a man he explains more about his blood and what he must do. He must inspire others since he will not leave except through the front door on his harvest day. That doesn’t sound like much to him (or the reader), but it turns out to be quite the adventure.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cmoore

    It may not be apparent at first glance, but this book is about slavery... It's not about the color of someone's skin either, it's weirder than that. A group segregated by blood type... and it's something that doesn't breed true! But once puberty hits every child is tested and if they have it they become property of the state, branded and sold to the highest bidder! There are no exceptions, no matter how powerful your family... your only life from then on is one of subjugation! Ryl is one of thos It may not be apparent at first glance, but this book is about slavery... It's not about the color of someone's skin either, it's weirder than that. A group segregated by blood type... and it's something that doesn't breed true! But once puberty hits every child is tested and if they have it they become property of the state, branded and sold to the highest bidder! There are no exceptions, no matter how powerful your family... your only life from then on is one of subjugation! Ryl is one of those children! And this is his story! What's different is that maybe, just maybe, he's the catalyst needed to start a chain reaction that takes down the system! I immediately fell in love with Ryl... though I did feel kinda' like the pacing was a bit off, but by the half way mark the story actually started rolling along, with a lot less world building (info) and a lot more storytelling and action! I was actually surprised to find that this was CJ Aaron's debut novel... so I immediately forgave the author for the stumble and uneven pacing at the beginning! Travis Baldree once again gave us a fantastic performance, and is one reason why Ryl felt so real... Grab this book... and get ready for the next incredible book by CJ Aaron!

  6. 5 out of 5

    L M Ralph

    An Unusual Read In this story people born with "special blood" are condemned to a life of slavery, cruelty and abuse..at least until they are "harvested " for their blood. Farmed like cattle, children are torn away or betrayed by their parents only to be sold to the highest bidder who will eventually have the privilege of using that blood to extend their lifespan. Ryl is one of these people. Sold by his parents for this purpose, his life is one of constant misery and torment with no hope until h An Unusual Read In this story people born with "special blood" are condemned to a life of slavery, cruelty and abuse..at least until they are "harvested " for their blood. Farmed like cattle, children are torn away or betrayed by their parents only to be sold to the highest bidder who will eventually have the privilege of using that blood to extend their lifespan. Ryl is one of these people. Sold by his parents for this purpose, his life is one of constant misery and torment with no hope until he meets a strange figure in the forest and he discovers the true purpose and powers pecial blood grants him. The plot is uncomplicated and, although a little slow in places, it is the curiosity of what is going to happen with this unusual storyline that holds the reader. The author also does a good job of garnering sympathy for the tributes (whose with special blood) and a sense of unfairness at what they forced to endure. A decent start to a new series. Does not end in a cliffhanger but the story is incomplete.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kirkby

    A slow start in a terrible part of town There is a heavy theme of slavery and stolen innocence in this first slow building book and yet it still manages a few even worse slaps to the face throughout with the odd dusting of family, hope and love. But in a story of a guy coming out of the slums to raze the world, he’s still very much up to his neck in it until the final chapters, here’s hoping there’s more light in the tunnel in book 2. An interesting read though that really pulled me into Ryl’s wo A slow start in a terrible part of town There is a heavy theme of slavery and stolen innocence in this first slow building book and yet it still manages a few even worse slaps to the face throughout with the odd dusting of family, hope and love. But in a story of a guy coming out of the slums to raze the world, he’s still very much up to his neck in it until the final chapters, here’s hoping there’s more light in the tunnel in book 2. An interesting read though that really pulled me into Ryl’s world and predicament with a fantastic narration from Travis Baldree.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Roberto Flores

    This is a case of an idea surpassing the writing. The idea behind this book does not coalesce into a workable plot. The mentor showing up, unlocking powers and disappearing is ludicrous. It directly leads to the main character almost dying repeatedly. And by all accounts this guy just had to pay low for a few months. The master of the stock's hate is unjustified by any story, and it crosses into treason at several points. I just never believed what was going on, the entire plot is extremely force This is a case of an idea surpassing the writing. The idea behind this book does not coalesce into a workable plot. The mentor showing up, unlocking powers and disappearing is ludicrous. It directly leads to the main character almost dying repeatedly. And by all accounts this guy just had to pay low for a few months. The master of the stock's hate is unjustified by any story, and it crosses into treason at several points. I just never believed what was going on, the entire plot is extremely forced.

  9. 5 out of 5

    William Myles

    Great story! I don't often leave reviews, but this story got me good. The start was a little confusing as it went back and forth, but I stuck with it and I'm glad I did! The plot was well laid out and progressed well. I like the detail used and the descriptive language surrounding the various scenes. Way to go, CJ! I can hardly wait for the follow-up stories (which I have preordered). Thank you for a great story and I wish you well! Bill.

  10. 4 out of 5

    H.M.

    3.5 stars I like the story, I like the world, and I like the concept. My issue was that the book just dragged. It was soooo slow. Also, the bad guys (the soldiers, masters, etc) all acted like the stereotypical villain. Whereas the tributes all joined together in solidarity. It got a little annoying towards the end, but by that time, there were soldiers who were sympathetic to the tributes. I’m interested in what happens next.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Brandon

    I found this interesting but very slow. I honestly found my self skimming to more interesting sections. The first 60-70% is rather depressing. I can't help but feel that the first 70% could have been compressed into the first 30%. I did enjoy the end. This is one of those series' where the first book is mostly a set up piece for the real action.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Clyde E Stewart

    Enjoyed this book. Ready to see what happens next. It's become difficult lately to surprise me with a new story. Well, not NEW, but definitely a new flavor. Knocking out a good read in a day tells me that it kept my interest. Looking for the next book, I liked it. Some very minor editing stuff, but it did not detract from the flow. Moving on to Book two.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Taylor

    I tend to only give five stars to books I find hard to put down. This book was one of them. Every time I had to stop reading, I put it down with reluctance and wanted to start again ASAP. Just finished it and will immediately start on the second and then the third books. The hard part will be finding other things to read until the fourth book comes out in December.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Wolf

    Couldn't take it any more Just couldn't get into the story. The storyline itself was ok, but the writing style is what got to me. Overly descriptive is an understatement. I found myself skipping pages to move the story along only to find out the story was still on the same subject. I am sure some people will enjoy this book. It just irritated me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    James Zimmerman

    What a start This is a powerful and intriguing tale. The characters grow before your eyes into real people in your mind. The story moved along at a pace will keep you turning the pages. Can't wait to read the next book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Betty Z

    Good story I totally enjoyed book one and immediately ordered books two & three. The story in the book draws you into it. Some parts making you laugh while other partss make you cry. Good story I totally enjoyed book one and immediately ordered books two & three. The story in the book draws you into it. Some parts making you laugh while other partss make you cry.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary K Barrett

    Very interesting I read this straight through. The characters matured. There was good and bad at different levels. This book made me think about kindness and how it can mean so much yo others.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    A story worth reading! One of the best stories I have read in years. I would suggest everyone give it a read. I know as soon as I am done typing this I am buying the 2nd book and won't put it down until I have read it cover to cover. Incredible.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Troy Osgood

    Excellent new fantasy. Very unique world that I can't wait to read more of. Dark and hopeful at the same time. Felt different from anything else I'd read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gregory del Valle

    Give me more! Amazing book! Loved every second of it! Can't wait to read the next book in the series! Definitely recommend this book!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher M Glasby

    A great read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and cant wait to see how he gets out of the predicament hes in right now!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nigel P

    Excellent! A rather dark but very readable, rollercoaster of a book. Possibly one of the best I’ve read, this promises to be one of the best of it’s genre.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie H.

    More. I can't wait for the next installment. Great characters, great storyline, fantastic building and emotional progression of characters and world. I love it. Thank you!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roh

    Can't help but find the high ratings for this book disturbing. I got it in audiobook format and the first couple HOURS are a slow burn of misery porn... Moving on.

  25. 4 out of 5

    lidia zoltan

    Woooooow Amazing. I recommend the book to everyone old or young. Can't wait to see what happenstance in book two. Kept me up at night.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Scott-Toney

    Really surprising I got this book on a whim and it was just excellent. Now I will read the series. The characters are interesting and the world well imagined.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ahern Family

    A slow start but a fantastic story I wasn’t hooked but after the first 30 pages the author had me with great writing and story telling. Can’t wait to read book 2!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    N Islam

    Slow, felt like a prologue. Writing is excellent though.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ray Knighton

    Good This book reminds me of reading the history of man and the good and evil we face in ever day life.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Mechanical. Plodding. Monochrome. Much of this book feels like reading a computer generated script. The prose is colorless, mechanical and plodding. More words.

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