Benji risks everything in a deadly tournament to free his mother, but the Crown's twisted plan unfolds.

Get your FREE copy of The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR (Book 1)

Shades of Hunger Games and Red Rising in the world painted by Merkel. Really looking forward to the next installment in this series - Emily G.


Betrayal. Redemption. Animal Masks.

Dive into "Bear," a thrilling sci-fi adventure from J. A. Merkel's The Fall Gauntlet.

As Benji learns the truth about the Crown’s desires, he is forced to make impossible choices, especially when he learns that his final opponent—the hulking young man behind the bear mask—is his estranged brother, Soren. 

Things just got a lot more complicated.

Don't miss this action-packed tale of family, forgiveness, and fighting for what matters most.



Picture nine children running around a farm barefoot, playing on dangerous farm equipment (not always at the same time) and you've pretty much got my childhood. Between chores that often seemed endless, and escaping down to the creek, we had books. Reading was great because it was free. So was writing.

My dad's mantra was "many hands make light work." Naturally, at the ripe age of six, after learning that writing could be a job, I started writing my own nonsensical stories. If nothing else, writing was a way to escape all the farm chores forever. (Spoiler alert: it didn't actually work that way.) But reading and writing took me on some epic adventures to places I could have never dreamed of.

Remember "The Land Before Time"? Movies like that hooked me on stories. Seeing those dinos become friends and explore their world was inspiring. R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books taught me about people's horrifying and beautiful metamorphoses. Every book I read felt like a daring escape, a chance to explore something new. And if these stories could change my life, why couldn't I write something that changes yours?

That's why I write. To give people hope and maybe a second chance at something ... but I can't reveal all my secrets here, right? That's what my "The Fall Gauntlet" series is all about.

So, if you're ready for your own reading adventure, click the button below and dive in! Thanks for checking out my work!




Copyright © 2024 J . A . MERKEL. All Rights Reserved.

1. Why offer such a deep discount on your books?

Many people enjoy the book so much that they decide to purchase the entire series. This is how I make a living. :)

2. Can I get this book in paperback form?

The special offer is for the ebook version, but you may purchase a paperback right here.

3. Can I read it on my Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iPhone, iPad, Android Tablet, Android phone, Microsoft Surface, etc.?

Absolutely! When you download the ebook, you’ll receive easy-to-follow instructions on how to download it to your device of choice.

4. What genre is The Fall Gauntlet?

The Fall Gauntlet is a science fiction dystopian collection in the vein of The Hunger Games, but also has elements of fantasy, action, and adventure, with some touches of thriller, mystery, and romance.

5. Who would enjoy reading The Fall Gauntlet?

Let’s say this: if you enjoyed The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Giver, then The Fall Gauntlet collection is for you. Readers who love short fiction (short stories or novellas) will also enjoy these high-stakes action adventures stories. Lovers of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, Clarkesworld, and Asimov’s Science Fiction will also enjoy the format of these serialized short stories.

6. How long is The Fall Gauntlet?

Book 1, BEAR, is technically a short story at 13,118 words and takes about one hour to read. Book 2, RAT, and Book 3, CHRYSIX, are novellas at 16,313 words and 22,181 words, respectively. RAT takes about 1 hour & 30 minutes to read, and CHRYSIX can be read in 2 hours.

The Fall Gauntlet stories are serialized, meaning they’re like tv episodes or volumes of a comic. Each story is self-contained and can be read alone, however, they all connect to each other to build a larger universe. Book 2 picks up where Book 1 ended, and so on.

7. How many books are in the Fall Gauntlet series?

There will be nine books in Part One of The Fall Gauntlet and nine books in Part Two. That's all I can say right now!

8. Are there deals or bundles I can take advantage of?

Yes! You can get Books 1 – 3 as apackaged bundle. (Books 1, 2, and 3), or you can buy The Fall Gauntlet Omnibus, which contains all three stories in one book. Each set of three stories will be compiled into an omnibus.

9. What themes are explored in The Fall Gauntlet Why would I like it?

The Fall Gauntlet explores themes of family loyalty, oppressive governments, rebellion, animal & ecological preservation, and so much more. If you like revolution stories with plenty of twists, where villains have redeeming qualities, and heroes have flaws, this mind-bending collection is sure to leave you on the edge of your seat.


A well-rounded take on Battle Royale that makes the most of each page and gives a fresh SciFi spin that is not derivative of what’s come before. It’s a brotherly love story at its heart, but the author manages to give it colors of romance, take on the fight against oppression, and the meaning of family. The world is fully fleshed out, an accomplishment, given that we never leave the fighting arena. The tech used by the gladiators is fun, seamless to the world, visually appealing, and enhances each moment in battle. But what brings it all together is the lead’s internal monologue; motivations, reactions, and backstory flow organically and bring the character to a fully relatable place. It’s endearing, thoughtful, and fun where it needs to be—looking forward to book 2.


A. J. E.

I just finished reading 'The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR' and I can't stop raving about it! The author has masterfully crafted an imaginary sci-fi world that completely swept e away. The author's creativity in building this sci-fi world is nothing short of extraordinary. From the intricate details of the technology to the vivid descriptions of the landscapes and creatures, I felt completely immersed in the story. It was an incredible experience to explore this imaginative universe and witness the characters navigate its challenges. Looking forward to see the story unfold, I have already order the next book; Rat


Christopher Wright

Fiction is the genre I tend to pick up the most. I found this first entry of the series most enjoyable! It checks all the boxes, high intensity, and well-paced, family history, political revolutions, and all the *drama*. I found myself being transported to a far off place- that somehow didn't seem so far off with all its logic and world-building. The characters were relatable & I found the story emotionally invigorating. The author does a great job introducing the players with distinct voices, and despite the challenges facing them at full steam, senses of humor as well. I found my next Book Club Book, and cannot wait for the next release in the series. Perfect book for the cusp of Summer and Fall.


Mary Hall

Enthralling, Captivating, Moving

BEAR quickly and easily transports the reader into another world instantly. It draws you in at once, with its colorful, rich, and nihilistic style of writing. The story is one part fantasy, one part redemption, one part love story, one part revenge. It is easy to read and pulls you in so quickly you feel like you are in the Gauntlet right there with your own mask on, fighting for your life, but also calculating your moves carefully, as the world you live in depends on it and so does the world of countless others. This book is amazing and I can’t wait to read RAT.


Amazon Customer 

A delightful read! 

I bought this book and then put it aside due to a lack of time. I finally made some time to read it and am so glad I did! It is very easy to follow and the author does a great job of making you want to keep reading and not put the book down! Its a very unique and cool story with a plot that helps you escape your own life and live in someone else's world, which is all I can hope for in a great fiction book! I love the family dynamics of the book, the characters and the imagery and metaphors really help you imagine you are in the story. Very vivid and the book stays with you after you put it down. Can't wait to get the next book in the series! MC



You will love it!

Anyone who picks up this book will love it! I started reading and couldn't put it down until I was done. I need more.I need book 2 already. I love reading fiction and this book takes you on an adventure that involves the hero journey. The characters are complex and everyone can relate to this story as it is about family and a fight for survival. A great book that takes you back to being a kid again!


Morgan M.

Book Club Suggestion!

I love reading fiction/sci-fi and this checked all the boxes for me! This book was high intensity, well-paced, with family history, political revolutions, and all the *drama*. I found myself being transported to a far off place- that somehow didn't seem so far off with all its logic and world-building. The characters were relatable & I found the story emotionally invigorating. The author does a great job introducing the players with distinct voices, and despite the challenges facing them at full steam, senses of humor as well. I found my next Book Club book! Can't wait for the next release in the series!


Mary H.

A Sunday well spent!

The world in this book that has been created in such a short amount of time is jam packed. It's engaging, heartfelt, and makes you want to keep turning the page. The world building that has been laid out and is set for future short stories to come is reminisce of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. There is no shortage of imagination, adventure, heart, and excitement in this fun little read. A Sunday well spent!


Jude M.

Hungry for more!

The Fall Gauntlet throws you right into the belly of the beast in the first few pages. A story of two brothers forced to battle by the Crown, ‘turning flesh and blood against each other.’Wonderful imagery and illustrative word choices bring this text to life. I really enjoyed the science behind the mask as well. Can’t wait to see what happens to the brothers in the second installment of this gripping adventure!


Jessica R.

I'm ready for the next "Fall Gauntlet" story!!!

What a thrilling first chapter in the Fall Gauntlet saga! Benji and Soren leap off the page with a brotherly bond worth rooting for, and the world of Calpyso is so vivid and imaginative and I want to learn more of what it has to offer. BEAR was a great read and I'm already hungry for Merkel's next short story in this collection!


Lawrence S.