I don't know wether to be annoyed with myself or Amazon but I managed to miss that this was a children's story. Once it was delivered there were clues. It was a puffin publication, the gladiator on the front cover has more than a whiff of Harry Potter about him and the print is widely spaced enough to navigate a tractor around! The book was also dedicated to legendry children's author Rosemary Sutcliffe.
Still I didn't panic, some of the best books ever written were targeted at children, 'Northern lights' and 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' to name two. This wasn't quite in their class however!
Don't get me wrong, if I had been 11 years old I would probably be giving this 5 stars, or more likely I'd be out playing football or riding my bike. However for the long toothed consumer of sword play novels like me this lacked originality, grit and adrenalin. For the first third of the book I was very tempted to put it down. The characters were 2D enough to squeeze through grating, the dialogue was flat and story totally predictable.
However things did pick up when young Marcus arrived at Gladiator school! with a few more characters and a suitably evil villain. The other thing is it can be read very quickly!
Anyway the last third was much more like the standard we expect of Mr Scarrow and will have young readers glued to their Kindle's I'm sure, with a couple of nice twists in the plot and an exiting climax.
Would I give it as a gift for an 11 year old nephew? Yes.
Would I recommend it to a like minded adult reader? No.