I don't get a lot of requests mind you, and don't have the time to do many more than I already receive, but I have discovered some really great books this way. The last one was BIG RED by Damien Larkin last year, and now I can add HEADLOCK OF DESTINY by Samuel Gately to that list.
I mean, I get that I'm specifically the target audience for this book. It's pro-wrestling mixed with epic fantasy. But I think that alot of people will enjoy this book, regardless of how you feel about oiled-up men in panties fighting each other. You don't need to be a fan of pro-wrestling to get The Headlock of Destiny, but if you are you'll appreciate some of the inside jokes and references.
Van is a titan, a giant ten-times as a strong as a mortal man, destined to fight and entertain the masses in a wrestling ring. Despite his humble beginnings working at a brewery in a backwater village, he is of course swept up into the politics and show-biz of the fighting circuit, thrust into the biggest tournament in the world, the Headlock of Destiny. Van becomes Van the Beer Man, a wrestling... brewer? (To be fair, the real world has seen wrestling garbage men, dentists and golf caddies, so why not?)
I loved this book. Samuel Gately has an easy, fun voice that makes the text fly by at a breezy clip. The description of the wrestling matches are fast-paced and exciting, with each one a spectacle of over-the-top action. But wrestling action aside, some of my favourite moments were outside the ring, like Van's quest to steal a barrel of beer, his antics at the tavern and casino between matches, or his awkward encounters with his former girlfriend. Much of the characters and interactions are refreshingly grounded and real, despite the story being set in a magical world with wrestling minotaurs and dragons used as passenger airliners. I think that's what really makes this work - in a world with cartoonish wrestling action and fantasy trappings, it's really Gately's down-to-earth portrayal of Van that makes him seem real and relatable. It would have been so easy, and a mistake, to make Van as garish and hyperbolic as the world around him, but instead he's just a normal, regular guy with simple wants and a sad (but not overly dramatic) backstory. Really great stuff.
Long story short, I would recommend this to anyone who like pro-wrestling or fantasy. If you like both, then you REALLY have to check this out, because you're in for a treat.
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Samuel Gately is a writer of novels in the fantasy genre. Most have spies in them. He lives in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with his wife, daughters, and two terrifyingly fluffy dogs.