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The Fall Gauntlet: RAT (Book 2)

The Fall Gauntlet: RAT (Book 2)

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Benji and his estranged brother, Soren, must outsmart a ruthless enemy in a treacherous underworld. Will they survive and uncover the truth about their family?

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Format: Paperback


Book Synopsis

Against all odds, Benji and Soren have escaped the Fall Gauntlet finals—together. Benji should consider himself lucky, blessed by the gods and goddesses, even. After all, he’s broken free from the Crown’s clutches and given people a reason to stand up and fight again. But Benji and Soren’s actions have consequences.

Without a champion, the Harvest cycle has ended. The brother’s parents are still being held prisoner by the Crown. And whispers that rebel totem groups are forming to bring the Crown down grow ever louder. Benji and Soren may have escaped the stadium, but getting out of the capital is a whole other beast.

Much to his horror, Benji has created a living nightmare in which the Fall Gauntlet does not end. And what shocks him even more is that his list of enemies seems to grow with every step. When a strange man and his “rat” followers offer to help the brothers leave the capital by sewer, the brother’s escape plan takes a dark turn. If they can’t rise above their own past hurts, and the lies that continue to haunt their family, Soren and Benji may indeed die at each other’s hands.

The Fall Gauntlet continues . . .

J. A. Merkel’s RAT is part of The Fall Gauntlet, a dystopian sci-fi short collection about Benji and Soren’s misadventures to outsmart the Crown and save a family lost to them, all while learning how to be brothers again.

Paperback Details

  • Number of Pages: 79
  • Time To Read: 2 Hours
  • Word Count: 16661
  • Series: The Fall Gauntlet
  • Paperback Size: 5" x 8" (147mm x 243mm)


The Fall Gauntlet is also available as a complete eBook Bundle, which includes all 3 books in the series.


Meet The Author

I write to give others hope and the same kind of second chances that writing still gives me. Second chances about what, you may ask? Well . . . I can’t reveal all my secrets here. It’s certainly a big part of why I wrote The Fall Gauntlet series.

If you want to embark on your own reading quest and experience the series yourself, then pick up the gauntlet.

I appreciate your interest in my work.

Read my story

Customer Reviews

Based on 13 reviews
Amazon Customer
This series just gets better!

I read the whole series thus far in one day, I couldn’t put it down! It draws you in and you become invested in the story and the characters! Captivating storytelling!

A Paranoia Inducing Sci-Fi Thriller

Whether or not one can appreciate the themes of paranoia or existential threats to you and those you love, The Fall Gauntlet RAT does an excellent job of keeping you at the edge of your seat while exploring them. Merkel fittingly changes the setting of our character’s journey from the gauntlet arena and city of New Phasia to the symbolically fitting dark labyrinthine tunnels under the city so that the feelings of paranoia, uncertainty and even isolation can physically be part of the story. He also continues his talent for clear and thrilling action as he takes his characters through multiple challenges as they attempt to escape the city. They cross foe after foe after friend who may or may not be another foe. The inability to tell the difference between them is the most compelling part of the story, despite the estranged brothers still being interesting characters with new developments and character arcs, simply because the uncertainty is what drives the plot and sustains the tension throughout their journey. Finally, the main theme of paranoia becomes so clear once the brothers begin to doubt their allegiance to each other. And even though the dictator-like figure, the crown, does not make an appearance in this entry itself, the world building continues to be fascinating, especially with the hints of what Benji’s and Soren’s gauntlet masks can do. The story is also filled with both welcomed and ominous new characters. Then finale has plenty of surprising revelations and sets up one hell of a cliffhanger (complete with life-threatening situations), ensuring the reader’s curiosity, if not excitement, to read the next entry and learn what the future holds for our dear characters.

Janet E.
Grabs your attention and doesn't let go!

This gripping story of a family torn apart and thrust into an uncertain future will have you glued to every page. It is action packed, suspenseful and touching, all at the same time. After finishing The Fall Gauntlet Book One, BEAR I was thankful I had RAT on hand as I was anxious to see what would happen next. Once again, I was totally engrossed in Benji and Soren's plight to free themselves from the clutches of the wicked Crown in hopes to someday reunite with their family. Needless to say, I immediately ordered The Fall Gauntlet Book Three, CHRYSIX. Kudos to J.A.Merkel for writing this enthralling fantasy and taking us on this thrilling ride!

Cynthia C.
Merkel Does it Again!

Another great addition to The Fall Gauntlet from Merkel. This is the second book in the series and it picks up right where the first left off. Once again, great action and suspense.

More peril more questions

The brothers find themselves battling more dangers in the sewers below the city and don't know who is friend or foe. Their masks are both blessings and curses, but they can't give them up. Rat is packed with action and keeps the perils of the Gauntlet alive. The story asks you to consider the very real possibility that they never actually escaped it and all the running is just part of a bigger plan. I'm looking forward to more in this series and recommend Rat to readers of science fiction and fantasy with the testing of familial bonds and plenty of action.