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Saturday, 19 March 2016

Simon Scarrow - The Gladiator

Review written and read live on the bookshow by Brian Lowen march 2016
This is one of a series of books by SS that are set in the first century AD and feature Centurions Macro and Cato of the Roman Empire which at that time stretched all around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.

Our two heroes set sail from Alexandria in Egypt to return to Rome. With them are Senator Sempronius and his daughter Julia who is engaged to Cato.

When sailing off the shore of Crete they are caught in a giant tidal wave which severally  damages their ship. They struggle into Matala, the nearest port on the coast of Crete only to find that the port has been destroyed by the tsunami that swept along the shore following a great earthquake that has destroyed most of the buildings on the southern side of Crete.

They make their way through the ruined port and find the depleted Roman Garrison in the Acropolis in the town which is still standing although damaged in part. They head on to the main city on this side of the island which has also been badly damaged, most of the senior Roman Officers killed when the Governor’s palace collapsed on them when they were all dining there.

Senator Sempronius, being the senior officer left takes charge. He is horrified to discover that all the slaves have escaped following

the earthquake and several thousand of them are being organised into an army to fight the Romans for their freedom.

The garrison troops are of poor quality and so  they must stand against the force of slaves under their leader, Ajax the gladiator. Can they hold out until reinforcements arrive from Egypt that Centurion Cato has been despatched to organise and bring to their rescue.

A good tale, but very bloodthirsty, the only weapons in those days being swords and daggers. It would have been helpful to have a glossary of all the Roman levels of officers and soldiers but that does not distract too much from the story.

Life was hard in those days, especially for the slaves, but the senior Officers of the Roman Army had a good time, but their life expectancy was short due to the number of battles they fought. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it, but it was a bit too brutal for me so I will not be getting anymore in this series.

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