GLADIATRIX by Russell Whitfield


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GLADIATRIX by Russell Whitfield in paperback at 11.2 euros.

Under the Flavian Emperors, the Roman public’s hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian’s passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in Rome’s Eastern Empire.

Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan sect of warrior priestesses, refuses to accept her new status as a slave.  Forced to fight for survival, her deadly combat skills win the adoration of the crowds, the respect of her Lanista, Balbus, and the admiration of Sextus Julius Frontinus, the provincial governor.

But Lysandra’s Spartan pride also earns her powerful enemies: the Dacian warrior, Sorina, Gladiatrix Prima and leader of the Barbarian faction, and the sadistic Numidian trainer Nastasen.

When plans are laid for the ultimate combat spectacle to honour the visit of the new Consul, Senator Trajanus, Lysandra must face her greatest and deadliest trial.

This represents an interesting debut for Russell Whitfield,  whose lifelong interest in Ancient Greece and Rome inspired him to write his first novel.  His characters are well-rounded and he keeps the reader’s interest throughout.  If you like Simon Scarrow, you’ll enjoy this.