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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2014
Fantastic book
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on 15 November 2013
Simon Scarrow's books set in ancient Rome make absorbing reading, and this book, written for teenagers, make a good read for those who have left their teen years behind.
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on 22 July 2014
Grizzled veteran of the Rhine campaigns Macro, optio of the 2nd Legion, is sent to Rome to receive an award for bravery. But he gets involved in politics - a series of plots by the Emperor Claudius' freedmen to punish Pavo, the son of an aristocratic general executed for disloyalty to Claudius. Pavo is demoted to slave gladiator and forced to fight for his life in the arena. Meanwhile Macro is forced to train him.

According to the blurb, this book started as five separate short novellas, which probably accounts for its bittiness. Pavo wins and keeps winning, but gets no further forward. Macro too wants to be sent back to the legion, ideally with a promotion to centurion, but that doesn't happen either.

Apart from that? It's OK but not great. If you are a fan of gladiatorial combat, maybe you will like it better than me. The training, the self doubt, the aggressive self aggrandisement all resemble modern boxing, at least as perceived by an outsider like me. But I wouldn't want to watch it, and neither did the Emperor Claudius, a bookish introvert according to Suetonius.
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on 14 January 2014
Like the book although only half way through it. Prefer the stories about Macro and Cato. First book on my kindle
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on 29 January 2014
A good read about the arena and the politics behind some of the fights and the conditions they lived in.
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on 24 September 2013
I took this on holiday to Rome to read, so to visit the historical buildings where the gladiators would have been and then be able to read this at the end of the day certainly brought it to life. There were a few twists and turns in the story and it was easy going but I do miss the Cato and Macro pairing. This was a good read to keep me going until the next instalment.
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on 17 September 2013
I will start by saying that I love the Macro and Cato series. While Simon's writing style is easy and the plotlines are exciting and a bit "Boys' Own" - in a good way - the historical detail & background, settings and attention to detail more than offset the occasionally anachronisms. In short, great storytelling for a history buff like me.

Arena is a little disappointing. It feels as though Simon has jumped on the Gladiator/Spartacus bandwagon a bit. Macro is shoe-horned into this, and the plot feels a bit like the 'Perils of Pauline'. some of the dialogue is clunky, and I lost count of the number of times that Macro unnecessarily added the word 'lad' to the end of what he was saying. Sorry this seems very subjective & picky, but imagining the dialogue in my head it just sounds clunky.

Sorry Simon - love all your other work!
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on 13 February 2014
Bought all the Arena series of short stories by Simon Scarrow at the inflated price only to find that this book is a compilation of them all when I came to read it. Did not get round to this book until after the final date for returning it so am now stuck with it. I feel cheated that Amazon did not point out at time of purchase that I already had this book on my kindle, albeit in sections. They do this if you mistakenly try to purchase an absolutely identical book to one on your kindle, so why not now? Why is it not obvious in the description on kindle store that this is a copy of the short story series all rolled into one book?
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on 24 December 2013
I bought this as a series of short stories. Being a fan of the Macro/Cato buddy/buddy style of adventure I was looking forward to reading this tale of ancient Rome.Unfortunately this story is not upto the author's usually entertainingly brilliant standard.The first two parts are repetitious and the action dragged on even if the outcome was predictable.The villains were one dimensional and belonged in a cartoon.It's OK but it's not a book I would recommend to Simon Scarrow fans.I look forward to more adventures with Cato and Macro.
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To be honest I'm a huge Simon Scarrow fan so when I learned of this co-authored title, featuring a young(er) Macro I couldn't wait to see what unfurled within. I was expecting top notch action, some great twists and when added to the cracking way that he brings ancient Rome to life, was really looking forward to settling down wondering around that time period.

What unfurled whilst containing an "old friend" was a title that for me, was sadly lacking, it felt flat, the action, whilst there didn't have his usual passion behind it, almost choppy and really didn't do what I hoped for. Yes it had gladiatorial combat and it was bloody but it just didn't have me caring about the lead protagonist enough to actually want him to win.

Add to this twists that you could sadly see coming for quite a lot of the book, political machinations that felt uncomplex alongside a pace that slacked off quite a few times, all round left me feeling fairly flat. A great shame.
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