Release Date: 01/03/12
'It is settled. The boy is in your charge. You will train him to fight. He must be able to use the dagger, throwing-knife, staves and his bare hands. One day young Marcus may well become a gladiator in the arena. But you must also teach him the ways of the street.' Now a member of Julius Caesar's palace, Marcus' training continues in the city of Rome. The streets are plagued by vicious gang war attacks, and Caesar must employ his own gang leader, who learns of a plot to murder him. Only Marcus can go in undercover. But he's in terrible danger. If the rival gang discover him the price will be fatal. Julius Caesar's isn't the only life at risk...
I’m a huge fan of Simon’s Macro and Cato series and to be honest whilst I did pick up the first Gladiator book, I was left feeling that it wasn’t quite up to what I was expecting. So with slight trepidation I started this one and hoped that it would improve as I know what a great author he is for me as an adult.
What unfurled within for the first half felt like a lot of padding and left me wondering if he was really cut out to be YA author as I felt that it didn’t really allow the reader to connect with the lead character which when added to his identity problems made him hard to get along with. That said, the second half picked up the pace, it felt like he had a better grasp of the character and when you added the usual Scarrow action packed adventure into the mix, generated a story that was not only a must read but one that kept you glued as he played for keeps within.
All in, it was a tale that took a while to get going but when it does it really generated something different to a lot of other YA tales out there. The prose was crisp, the dialogue believable and when you finally threw into the mix the outcomes of politics and strategic manoeuvres; it set the pace for the next book to be truly epic.