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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Protagonista kicks backside.
Launching a new year with a new writer is always a good thing for me, it's a taster of things to come in a new generation of writers in much the same way that Janus looks forward and backwards at the same time. So I was more than pleasantly surprised when I picked up the novel Gladiatrix. As the name would suggest the principle protagonist (or protagonista) is a female...
Published on 19 Mar 2008 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gladiatrix
I rated this book two out of five stars. I really did enjoy some parts of this book. It wa pleasing in that it met my weakness for a strong feminist character, providing a mass of them. However, the huge lack of backstory for any character other than the main and about three other characters and scattered writing style really detracted from an amazing plot. There were a...
Published 9 months ago by Charley Weston


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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Protagonista kicks backside., 19 Mar 2008
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Paperback)
Launching a new year with a new writer is always a good thing for me, it's a taster of things to come in a new generation of writers in much the same way that Janus looks forward and backwards at the same time. So I was more than pleasantly surprised when I picked up the novel Gladiatrix. As the name would suggest the principle protagonist (or protagonista) is a female gladiator which were originally seen as a bit of light entertainment. Knowing this did put me on edge to begin with until I started getting into the tale.

The combat which appears within the pages is simply written alongside being short descriptions which allows the reader to envision the fight as it takes place. No complications are thrown in as otherwise it could have easily detracted from the scene and lost the key element that made it so gripping. Its brutal, fast paced and at times short, but then again that's the typical life of a gladiator. With the principle protagonist coming from Spartan stock it's a bit of a giveaway as to the toughness and inherent combat skills that we would come to expect from such and with her freeness of speech it endears her to the reader.

Well written with a touch of wry humour and a number of nods to past masters of writing within the pages it's clearly a novel of love and one that has been painstakingly researched. A great first novel and one that the passion clearly shows through allowing any errors to be ignored by the reader due to the sheer enthusiasm and gusto within. I look forward to reading future novels from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gladiatrix, 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
I rated this book two out of five stars. I really did enjoy some parts of this book. It wa pleasing in that it met my weakness for a strong feminist character, providing a mass of them. However, the huge lack of backstory for any character other than the main and about three other characters and scattered writing style really detracted from an amazing plot. There were a lot of powerful adjectives, but the constant switching between characters points of view and non-existence of any transition or fluidity between them gets pretty frustrating at times. The power is often more in single words than the actual sentences and it generally reads more as an Ancient Rome enthusiast with a thesaurus than an actual accomplished author. This book is worth a read if you literally have nothing better to do, but not one I would rush to buy.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to Admire but Hard to Like, 30 Nov 2008
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Paperback)
Gladiatrix is a well written debut novel from Russell Whitfield which puts an interesting spin on that old staple of 'sword n' sandals'tales, the enslaved Gladiator fighting for honour and freedom, by focusing on female 'Gladiatrices'. It features well conceived and diverse characters, a sense of time and place that does not pander to contemporary expectations brutal action, a fair smattering of sex (mostly of the sapphic kind) and a well worked plot. It holds the attention for most of its not inconsiderable length and is by most measures a good book.

What it didn't do for me however, is prompt much in the way of a warm emotional response. As a book I found it to be like a well designed machine rather than a piece of art; practical, functional & precise but without any real beauty or soul to it.

Partly that is down to the setting. By avoiding any contemporising of the characters and the place they inhabit there is very little that is familiar for a reader to cling on to. The world depicted in Gladiatrix is a brutal one that utterly alien to modern sensibilities. With nothing even vaguely 'modern' with which to associate it also remains a remote and distant one.

It doesn't help that none of the characters on display are particularly likeable people. Even the nominal 'hero' of the piece, Lysandra, with her haughty Spartan manner is someone it is very hard to warm to or cheer for. Credit to Whitfield for trying to create characters of some complexity, but in doing so he has also succeeded in removing the reader's ability to really empathise with any of the individuals on display.

By the end of the book I was interested to find out what happened more out of curiosity than a burning desire for Lysandra to prevail over her enemies. When the book ended on what I found to be something of an ambiguous, anti-climatic and less than satisfying note I found that I didn't feel particularly cheated or disappointed because I really didn't care that much about any of the characters' fates, and that told me exactly how little a connection I had made with this otherwise admirable book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel, 4 July 2009
By 
J. Cronin "dudara" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Paperback)
We all know about the gladiators of ancient Rome. Slaves who found a kind of freedom because of the adulation of the crowds for whom they fought, often to the death. However, this historical novel focuses on the female gladiators or gladiatrices.

Lysandra is a Spartan prietess (think of the 300) who is sold into slavery when washed up on a beach following a shipwreck. She is an arrogant, detached person, who views anyone who is not Spartan as practically barbarian. But she has been trained since childhood in the arts of war, a fact not lost on her new owner.

She is sent to training camp for gladiatrices, where her attitude sets her apart from the others. Her unwillingness to submit to slavery drives her and ultimately depresses her. I just could not warm to the character of Lysandra. She appears cold, aloof and without sympathy for those around her. Even when she loses her lover, it's hard to be sympathetic.

The novel is packed full of activity - from graphic scenes of fights in the areans to emotional outbursts between the main characters. There's a definite lesbian hint to this novel - it's full of strong, independant women who can fight. It's got plenty of historical detail but ultimately, it's devoid of emotion and the ending is so abrupt and anti-climatic that you'll wonder where the rest of the book went.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book is a good read, although slow in some places, 30 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
This book brings to life a part of history that few people know about or even contemplate as ever happening, and rouses your curiosity to such a society. This book is a good read, although slow in some places, and brings to light certain issues faced by the characters that other authors would perhaps be too uncomfortable to detail. What intrigued me the most however, was the history behind the novel. We are all familiar with male gladiators, and they have been glamorized over the years. But to think they had female counterparts is somewhat astounding. Even more astounding is that a few of these women were seen as so great that they even had statues made. In a world where women were not respected and where no woman had accomplished much for others to aspire to or be worthy of recognition, it is intriguing that some how, two women were so celebrated and perhaps feared that they were immortalized. This is a worthy and enlightening read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Action-packed and hot!, 25 Aug 2011
By 
Lance Mitchell (Hampshire, UK, Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
This is the story of a Spartan priestess called Lysandra, who, as the only survivor of a shipwreck is captured by the Romans, enslaved, and trained as a gladiatrix. However, her previous training in combat techniques, physical fitness and power, mind and spirit, put her way ahead of many of her rivals.

Lysandra is a strong and insular woman, but anyone who is lucky enough to become her friend can be sure to count on her loyalty. The opposite, of course, can be expected by her enemies.

As you would expect, there is a lot of violence and passion littered throughout the book. It is very well researched, and ties in with what is known of the history of the region. I was impressed by the description of the combat, whether in training or in the arena, because it is so aptly short and punchy which really grips my attention as a reader. There is no flannel to distract me from the action.

The characters are all brilliantly developed, and they interact so well too. It is easy to feel the heat and the emotions that the author has so enthusiastically penned for our delight. It is not just the interactions between individual characters which stirred me, there are also fierce interactions between the races too.

I would warn prospective readers against getting too attached to any particular characters. Just when you feel as if one of them has been you life-long friend, you are likely to find them lying, hacked to death, in a pool of blood on the floor!

Finally, it is impossible for me to conclude this review without mentioning that, about a third of the way through, you will read one of the most sexually arousing lesbian scenes that you could ever come across. Whatever your gender or sexuality, I would challenge you to read this passage without becoming so turned on that you will have to stop and pause for breath. I won't tell you which page to turn to, as you will easily recognise the piece when you get to it.

Gladiatrix is the way that historical fiction should be; for me, anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars **love it**, 28 April 2013
This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
Read this book years ago and fell in love!
Came across it again a week ago and nearly had a mini heart attack, bought it again without a seconds hesitant.
Half way through it and I LOVE IT!!
One of my all time favourite books, DEFINITELY WORTH A READ!
A***
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly descriptive, 1 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
A fabulously exciting and extremely descriptive read.Only small negative is that Russell overuses a different, uncommon word in each chapter. Otherwise unputdownable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply great!, 27 Mar 2012
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I loved this book to the very last page. I can really recommend this to the lovers of the historical fiction as well as unpredictable action.
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2.0 out of 5 stars OK in parts, 15 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Gladiatrix (Kindle Edition)
I was looking forward to reading this book and sorry to say it was a bit of a disappointment. It felt like the book was written in a rush where the author couldn't wait to finish a chapter and then move on to the next one resulting in a lack of background detail to the characters and story. Some parts were enjoyable but would have liked to see the story beefed out a bit so one could feel more related to the characters. Perhaps the author should read some George R.R. Martin to see how it is done
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Gladiatrix
Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield (Paperback - 18 Mar 2008)
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