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on 16 February 2011
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2011
Product Description (From back of book)

Rome, 61 BC RECRUITED as a gladiator, young Marcus Cornelius Primus faces a new life of brutal training, governed by strict rules, as he learns the skills of an elite warrior. But Marcus cannot simply forget his past. His father lies murdered by soldiers and his mother has been kidnapped and forced into slavery. Marcus is determined to find his father's old commander, Pompeius the Great, to seek justice for his family and set his mother free. Yet, unbeknown to him, Marcus is hiding a life-threatening secret. And if the Romans discover it, there will be no escape . .


Gladiator : Fight for Freedom

One major advantage for me when picking up this new Simon Scarrow book was that I knew I would enjoy it, it would be the degree of enjoyment that was in question.

Recently I have called into question a couple of plot lines in Simons Eagle Series (sorry Simon), and to be fair the latest book Legion answered those questions in spades.

So how would his foray into the world of young adult books fair, would it follow in the footsteps of its older brother The Eagles and become a deserved Bestseller? Would it be fresh and new?

The answer is quite simply yes, in fact at times its hard to spot its a young adult book, this story does not deride the audience, it does not talk down, it does not preach as some young adult books do.

This Book moves long with great pace great action and great depth, there are very few punches pulled in the drama that is life and this book echos that, you could be forgiven for thinking that Macro and Cato would pop up at any moment (if they had been born yet), Readers of this series could easily move on to the eagle series and vice versa.

Marcus as our main star and character is well written, well rounded, and comes to life on the page, and thanks to the cover you have a visual image of him to carry through the book with you.

Adding a personal enemy in the Ludus was a moment of genius for me as it gives our main star someone to bounce his character/ personality and growth off and reminded me a little of Gladiatrix by Russ Whitfield.

The plot line (which I shall not give away) brings in famous characters from that roman period, and gives you a taste of where this very very promising series is going to go, and the trials that await our young gladiator.

This book is a total triumph, and reminds me of the freshness of the Eagle series at the beginning.

It seems that both the Brothers Scarrow have a talent for the young adult market, with the success of the excellent Timeriders series, and this detined to be a surefire hit, Puffin really do know their stuff.
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As a fan of Simon Scarrow's Centurion's Macro and Cato I had high hopes for this, his first Young Adult title. What unfurled unfortunately didn't feel that it kept to the high standards I expected. The plot was pretty simplistic against a lot of the books that are released now, the plot outline feeling that it was something I'd already seen and to be honest it felt forced to make an idea into a novel that could really have been explored in a short story. Add to this that it felt like Simon had just borrowed from a lot from a couple of films (Kubrick's Spartacus and Corbucci's The Slave) and unfortunately the title fell a little flat.

I hope that now a lot of the background has been sorted that future titles will get back to what Simon does best but for an 11 year old you can go more complex without worrying about them not following which when backed with a great writing style for action really could make this something special. I can only wait to see.
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on 12 June 2011
My eight and a half year old son is a good reader and has recently become very keen on romans. For him the size of font and spacing works well. He was riveted by the story and the new vocabulary pushed him but did not put him off. I would highly recommend it to good readers a little under the age of 10. Most boys postively enjoy the gore. We are definitely looking forward to the next book.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2011
Marcus Cornelius Primus is the son of a Roman Centurian. With the first ten years of his life spent on his family's farm in Greece, Marcus' life is suddenly turned upside down when his father is killed and he and his mother are taken as slaves. Marcus is then sold to a Gladiator trainer where he learns to fight whilst all the time contemplating his escape and how he can find and free his mother. He sets his sights on somehow making it to Rome to find General Pompeius, who's life his father once saved, in the hope he will help ... that is until Marcus finds out that his past is not what he always thought it to be.

This is a fast paced, exciting adventure story that I imagine is primarily aimed at ten to fourteen year old boys but at the same time is a great read for all. Scarrow's writing superbly describes the scenes and the period in which the book is set and you really get a sense of what it was like to be a slave in the Roman era. It is clearly well researched. The fight scenes don't hold back on their realism but are still appropriate for the target age of the book.

I liked that Marcus acted his age. He would sometimes not make the best decisions, acting more in tune to his feelings than what might be best long term. He also had that determination and optimism that only a ten-year-old can have. He doesn't really consider that Rome is a heck of a long way or the dangers that might stand in his way. He's courageous yet vulnerable and in general a well balanced, well written character.

There were some aspects of the plot that were a little predictable but again, it is a children's/young teen book so that's usually the case when reading as an adult. Still, while it might have been obvious what the outcome was going to be, how the story got there wasn't always as predictable. And in any case, these elements were things that you wanted to happen so it was all good.

I'll definitely be looking out for the second book in this series and will likely also check out some of the authors other books.
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on 7 April 2011
When I first saw the book, I immediately thought 'oooh, there's something I haven't seen much of in YA' and I like when that happens. I like when things are new and different. And Gladiator, this first book for children by Simon Scarrow, is quite a fun read. With it's action scenes and violence and gladiator training, this is one sure to attract boys, but I found myself really gripped by the story and the characters as well.

Marcus is our main character, a smart 10 year old, growing up on a farm with his parents during the Roman times. When his father is murdered, Marcus and his mother are captured as slaves. When Marcus escapes and is later caught, he is then sold on to a gladiator school in order to help train him in fighting and the methods of survival as a gladiator. Marcus is very intent on getting into Rome to see his father's old commanding officer, who Marcus thinks will help free him and his mother from slavery. But first, Marcus must survive the brutal training and the poor conditions of being a slave in Roman times.

There is quite a lot of detail here describing the way of life and treatment of slaves. There are brief references to Spartacus, made famous for his slave rebellion and it is clear to see how and why so many Roman slaves came to feel this way about those who have oppressed so many people and for such an extended period of time. There's a real sense that these slaves, especially the ones Marcus meets on his travels, serve only purposes of labour and entertainment when they go to be mauled or killed during gladiator games.

And Marcus is really quite young, over the course of the novel he does turn 11, but still, it is a lot for one young boy. Marcus is very brave and goes through a great deal, especially after another boy in the school sets his eye on destroying Marcus. For all of that, he still maintains this level of decency and morality. There's a strength about Marcus that made me really cheer for him.

There's a lot going for this book, the interesting setting, the fast-paced adventure story, a mysterious secret that could change everything, and a great main character who readers will root for. I'm very glad I read it and can recommend it!
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on 19 November 2012

I bought this as Im quite a Simon Scarrow fan, and loved his other work. Great! a whole new series of Roman tales. However, somehow I didnt realise that this was a book for teenagers from the on line description of the book.

When you see it you can tell instantly. On the back it states suitable for 11 years+, the text is at least double spaced, and the writing style is very accessible indeed. The heroes and heroines in this text seem to be teenagers.

I wish Id had this sort of book to read when I was a teenager, but dont get it if you think its adult reading.

I did read the book having bought it, and its an OK read for an adult. It took me less than a day. Hogwarts meets Spartacus indeed!

3 stars for adult reading, 4 star if you are buying this for a teenager.
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on 11 April 2011
I bought this as a birthday present for my 10 year old son. He devoured the whole book within about 3 days after his birthday. He can't wait to read the next book in the series and is already making his costume so that he can dress up as Marcus for next year's World Book Day. I read some of the book with my son and it is a really good, exciting adventure story but not for the more sensitive as it is fairly bloody not to say gruesome right from the start. I would say it is probably aimed at age 12+ but could be read by younger children who are confident independent readers looking for a really exciting adventure and who don't mind or will enjoy the gore. I guess more likely to be enjoyed by boys but could be read by girls who are enthusiastic readers. (In my experience girls are less picky readers than boys anyway.) It has the added bonus of imparting some Roman history as Pompey the Great, Spartacus (briefly) and Julius Caesar appear in the book.
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on 25 October 2011
i saw this book on amazon after reading of scarrow's previous books which were beautifully written this book i knew was a young adult book to begin with so i knew what audience it targeted for with this in mind(most young adult books are nicely written)this has the similar style to his other books but lightens it for the younger reader i like this book and waiting for the second in the trilogy.the emotional journey of the protagonist is nicely done. don't complain if you expect same tone as his previous books because it targeted for young adult is written as such and brilliantly so. even if you are an adult like myself i still recommend this book because it seduces your imagination
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on 1 October 2013
A very short book, with extra large letters to make the book seem longer than it actually is. The story was good but the book could have been condensed into about 150 pages using normal script. I shall not be buying any more books by Scarrow!
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