Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Gladiator: Fight For Freedom by Simon Scarrow

This is the first book in a brand new series! I'm rather eager for the next one.

3rd February 2011, Puffin
Hardback, Review copy
Children's (12+)

Summary from Penguin

Rome, 61 BC
RECRUITED as a gladiator, young Marcus Cornelius Primus faces a new life of brutal training, governed by strict rules, as he learns the skills of an elite warrior.
But Marcus cannot simply forget his past. His father lies murdered by soldiers and his mother has been kidnapped and forced into slavery. Marcus is determined to find his father's old commander, Pompeius the Great, to seek justice for his family and set his mother free.
Yet, unbeknown to him, Marcus is hiding a life-threatening secret. And if the Romans discover it, there will be no escape . . .

I've read and enjoyed a Roman historical from Simon before (The Legion). I was eager to read a series set in a similar era for younger readers. In some ways I preferred Gladiator. I think there's a little less emphasis on description of weapons/politics/who's who. That's not to say there isn't any description - there is, but just enough to keep the reader informed and intrigued, not so much that I started to skim read.

One great thing about the book is that it takes a while for Marcus to be in a position where he becomes a gladiator. I kept thinking 'this is it' only to turn the page and find it was it. And when the moment came it was hard hitting, especially when he got separated from his mother. His desire for revenge lands him in a little bit of trouble, but actually much less than I'd expected. He has great courage within him to keep pursuing his goal, even when the future gets bleaker and bleaker. He isn't stupid, he knows not to rush into some fights, although he still does have the impatience of youth. I adore how the book ends, and the kind of life that waits Marcus. If anything he will be in more danger than he was while training to be a gladiator. It was pretty tough with the risk of death he flouted the rules. He nearly did die when someone set him up with a crime. Plus he makes an enemy within his class without even doing anything.

Possibly the one thing which I both love and hate equally, is the secret that Marcus is hiding. Little is spoken of it until near the end. Even then, nothing gets revealed (either that or I really missed something!). I really hope there is further revelation in the next book, although I'll be reading it for more than that reason alone. From the summary I would have thought that I'd find out at least part of the mystery in this book.  Overall I really enjoyed the book. There's plenty of action (not all of it pleasant, definitely a good book for blood-thirsty readers), and a great deal of character development. The level of detail in the historical environment is high, and clearly shows Simon knows this area of history. Bearing in mind that not a lot is revealed about his secret, I give it a 9/10.


Asamum said...

I think this is going to go done well with the male pupils at school. Terrific review :D

Nayuleska said...

Thanks Asamum! I'd agree with that one.