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The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1 (The Twelve Systems Chronicles) by [Manetti, EG]
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The Cartel: The Apprentice, Volume 1 (The Twelve Systems Chronicles) Kindle Edition

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Length: 298 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English
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Product Description

A woman in trouble. A ruthless warrior with a hidden agenda. A society where honor is revered and trust a dangerous luxury.

Raised to wealth and privilege, Lilian’s future was shattered when her father was convicted of terrible crimes. By law and custom she should have followed him into death to redeem her corrupt genetics. Desperate to avoid execution for crimes not her own, Lilian accepts an indenture contract with a powerful warrior. For three years he will have total control of her body, will and intellect.

Lucius Mercio commands one of the most powerful Cartels in the Twelve Systems. As clever and ambitious as he his ruthless, Lucius' wealth, influence, and power are place him among the elite of the warrior caste. It is not enough. Lucius intends to take his Cartel to unimaginable heights with the aid of Lilian's brilliance. He faces only one obstacle. Lucius must keep Lilian alive.

95,000 words.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 839 KB
  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0988690004
  • Publisher: Buniac Entertainment, LLC (30 November 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #495,031 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could you survive if you couldn't speak up to defend your honor? 15 February 2016
By Jonmontanavega - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enthusiastically give The Cartel a 5 star recommendation, although it could have been better in several areas.

Plot: 5 stars. World Building: 5 stars. Character development: 5 stars. Action heroine: 5 stars. Not afraid to use erotic scenes: 5 stars.
Negatives: I was/am confused about the world’s history. Abrupt ending. Erotic scenes are frequent and well written, but need more diversity of place, action, and afterwards. No punishments of heroine, where the plot/imaginary world should require the hero to spank/cane the heroine.

I really enjoyed, in a ‘total escape into an imaginary world’ sort of way, reading this tale of a very talented, decisive young woman, who has everything except what is inside of her brain taken away from her to “pay” for the crimes of her father. She is forced due to her father's crimes to become a doxy [lover/mistress/prostitute] and an employee to a ruler in a highly structured world. While most of her talents are used to learn and analyze, she had trained in one of many forms of self-defense before her Dad’s apprehension and execution. She needs to use this training. This is one of those novels for which I found time in my day to read, where I shouldn’t have, and then I immediately purchased the next in the series.
I’m a visual learner. There are a plethora of groups, clans, alliances and cooperatives (not the words used in the book) that need more clarity. You are probably familiar with the type of fiction where there is a map or diagram or list of characters at the beginning. This series needs such a cheat sheet.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Do not ask, do not complain, discover a means." 22 April 2016
By R. - The Book Butterfly - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
4 to 4 1/2 stars

This is a fascinating and often uncomfortable tale, which is written in a rather unique style that took me some time to become accustomed to. Once I adapted, I came to better appreciate the characters, the depth and intricacy of the world building, as well as the complex societal and relationship dynamics.

The heroine, Lilian, is an apprentice to Lucius Mercio (addressed by her only as 'milord') which makes her his property, mentally, physically and sexually. The fact that she does find pleasure and escape in his arms makes her circumstances more bearable/acceptable to her, but had she hated it and/or he been brutal or a monster in disguise, her life and her choices are still dictated by another person under threat of punishment and possible death. Though I was relieved that she experienced moments of kindness, support and understanding along the way (amidst constant harassment and public persecution), it doesn't change the fact that any and all forms of slavery push my buttons big time. And though one could argue that she agreed to this, I would argue that choices like these are no choice at all:

"Should you ask her, Trevelyan, I believe Lilian will tell you she far prefers this path to her other alternative."
"A pretty choice for a girl of twenty-four, Trial by Ordeal or death for crimes not her own." Trevelyan's tone is equally sharp.
"This is an old argument and one where neither of us will be swayed." Lucius ends the discussion without heat. His spymaster's views are well known to Lucius.

Lucius is a very powerful man who has plans and secrets of his own that Lilian is not privy to. My feelings towards him are mixed to say the least. I acknowledge that had he been a different kind of man (or had she been apprenticed to someone else), things could have been so much worse for her and she would have had no say in the matter. But Lilian is at his mercy until she proves her bond over a period of years. The author did her job because I was certainly not detached from Lilian's experiences or from my ambivalence towards Lucius. Let me be clear that this is not a romance. The fact of the matter is that Lucius is married with children. Although he admires and likes Lilian, is often intrigued and even confounded by her, at the end of the day, she was acquired for a purpose and he currently views her as his property. I cannot say if this aspect will change in future as there are many more books to come.

I found myself rooting for Lilian whose indentured status and constant trials were a source of frustration for me as she did what was necessary for the good of her family and for her own survival. Despite her brilliance and persistent diligence, she made understandable mistakes along the way, and I found myself worrying right along with her about what the consequences might be. Her friend, Chrys, gives her words of wisdom after she errs that help to bring her some comfort on this score:

"Minor violations of will are corrected with rebuke and mayhap humiliation. It is impossible to avoid such. No one, no matter how clever or disciplined, can truly give over his or her will to another."
Certain of Lilian's attention, Chrys continues. "The system is devised to be be so. Impossible. Minor transgressions against will, offer the opportunity to reinforce the apprentice bond. [...]"
Listening to Chrys, the sick knot that has lodged in Lilian's midsection since midday begins to loosen. Finally, Lillian whispers, "I did put my will before monsignor's."
Chrys' response is gentle. "Of course you did. You must. You cannot manage a day otherwise. That is why it is impossible. Think you they know it not? It will become easier with time."
Chrys' quiet confidence and assurance eases Lilian's spirit.

The fact that she is innocent of the crimes she is being punished for is irrelevant in this society. I struggled with this and the fact that she was persecuted for the sins of her father. There are many cruel and unfair aspects to this society, regardless of the explanations given for them. Those with power or in higher positions are able to get away with far more than they should (a reflection of our own reality).

So, whenever the balance actually shifted in Lilian's favor (or in favor of those in similar positions/circumstances), it provided a sense of relief, justice and triumph (as well as some occasionally delicious vengeance) to the equation that I was thankful for.

It is made clear that life is not always fair and that we have to work with what we're given, but that doesn't mean I have to like it:

"Discover a means." This from Lilian. "That is what we call it, the Apprentice Protocol. Thirty-six strictures and they all equate to the same stricture. Do not ask, do not complain, discover a means."

That being said, there are moments of light, moving interactions, spaces and places where we are privy to the goodness of people in the face of so much unkindness, and that creates hope. For Lilian and for those like her. It is that hope for her (to see her way clear of the challenges in this role, to achieve her eventual freedom, etc.) that all but guarantees I will read the next book in this series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, imaginative story and strangely formal prose 16 February 2016
By history repeats - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
E.G. Manetti's The Cartel: The Apprentice Volume 1 tells the story of Monsignor Lucius and Apprentice Lilian. He is the very ambitious leader of a commerce sect intent on moving his cartel up the proverbial ladder of power. She is the eldest, disgraced daughter of a similarly powerful elite, who chooses indentured servitude over death in payment for her father's sins. What keeps this book a page turner are the subtle hints that Lucius has high expectations and certain lucrative plans for the very, very bright Lilian. To determine if she is right for his machinations, he must test her will and resiliency, along with her analytical aptitude.

As the story opens, Lilian is arriving to meet Lucius and begin day one of her three years of familial penance. Immediately, he asserts his dominance, both in will and physical intimacy, setting up a theme that will be carefully and laboriously maintained throughout the book. Because Lilian is very personally restrained, tutored to act honorably since birth, and part of a stratified society with strict codes of conduct, any subtle display of emotion or exuberance is magnified. A reader watches for it carefully. Manetti has trained us well. Youthful Lilian is formidable in all ways, but she is approachable because she is without guile and subterfuge. Her purpose is to serve Lucius, and ultimately the cartel. Her wits make her invaluable and a target.

This book is categorized as science fiction and romance. Oddly, I don't see it as either, though there are influences. In most ways, I feel this book is a fantasy. Manetti has crafted a highly stylized and detailed society. The bulk of the book is infused with satisfying the norms of the culture and the mystery of a commerce fraud within the cartel. It is science fiction, apparently, because it takes place in space and there are outer colonies. There are also some futuristic and alternative technologies, but make no mistake, the focus of this book is on the society and not the gadgets or space travel. As regards the romance tag, throw out all your expectations of the role of sex in society. The strictures of the cartel are such that romance has no relevance, yet sex is a regularly indulged pastime with its own hierarchical rules. It is shocking how infrequently this book dips into moments of tender regard. Lucius regards Lilian as a possession, and often treats her as such. She expects nothing different. Romance readers may be disappointed. But weirdly there is hope.

It is due to the amazing talent of the author that the briefest of moments can carry weight, emotion, and significance. The narrative has a quiet tone, yet the ability to appall and amaze. Although the book does not end in a totally frustrating cliffhanger, there is no sense of closure. I will be reading book two of this atmospheric, hypnotic, strangely formal series. This was definitely one of the most unusual and stylistically memorable books I've read in the past twelve months.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Diamond in the Rough 20 April 2016
By Rafael - Published on
Verified Purchase
An archaeologist steps across rough, rocky terrain. A glint, a glimmer catches his eye. He bends for a closer look. Brush in hand, gentle strokes clear away debris and soil. The gleam grows. He does not rush. No need to. Patience serves him well. Before his measured, steady whisks, the ground will soon enough reveal its secret.

Like the metaphor above, E.G. Manetti’s The Cartel, written in the present tense, is a jewel that unveils its glow layer by layer. Set in a dystopian universe of twelve planetary systems, the author’s masterful command of language imbues this world with a fascinating identity that gives the reader a you-are-there immediacy. Raw eroticism permeates the culture, redefining sexuality, and expanding the prerogatives of power. Its carnal scenes are both provocative and…eye-popping. Those who desire their action now and in full, will find no succor here. Like the physical tension between the main characters Lucius and Lilian, the plot unfolds like a luxurious, lingering blossom.

This is Volume 1 of the Twelve Systems Chronicles. It is overture, preface, preamble. It is a tale of two warriors, one fallen the other reigning. All about them, treachery, deceit, and betrayal lurk. Over the horizon, storm clouds gather and near, ready to swallow them whole. You will care for their survival, pray Lucius and Lilian will overcome, then reach for Volume 2.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This series is worthy of a RT award 11 May 2016
By Roci - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I rarely write reviews for the simple reason that I am not good at it, but this book /series is so well written that I felt compelled to do so. I will leave the synopsis to others and just say that the world building is incredible. I would liken the world building to the Psy/Changling series by Nalini Singh, The iron seas by Meljean Brook, The beyond series by Kit Rocha, or the IAD series by Kresley Cole (before she began other series). With that being said, let me tell you of my preferences so that you may judge if we have similar tastes. My favorite book is Heart of Obsidian with 2nd place being a tie between Bright Star (book 2 of this series ) and The Iron Duke. Both Heart of Obsidian & The Iron Duke won RT awards, and Kit Rocha & Kresley Cole have won RT awards too. I feel that E G Manetti, in this series, is producing the same kind of work that should be nominated for an award - as I have read many of the books that have won RT awards in the past 5 years and find them lacking compared to Manetti's The twelve worlds series. It is my hope that E G Manetti continues this fascinating series and that many more people will give it a try!

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