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Gladiator NWS Fight for Freedom.

Gladiator NWS Fight for Freedom

Simon Scarrow

Heinemann (New Windmills) 2012

ISBN 9780435077969

Paperback 7.99 [pounds sterling]


Back in 1980 Bernard Cornwell created the character of Richard Sharpe (the tale of a typical, up through-the-ranks, bolshie, warm-hearted rifleman in the Napoleonic wars). Perhaps it was the 'earthiness' of Sharpe's character, perhaps the whole working man at odds with the establishment idea, but since that time there have been literally thousands of books published in similar vein, including several series by Simon Scarrow.

Mr Scarrow made his name initially with the 'Eagles' series. Set in 1st Century Imperial Rome (AD), this is the story of an in-the-ranks, bolshie, warm-hearted centurion (Macro) and his young superior (Cato). Gladiator: Fight for Freedom continues this interest in all things Roman, but jumps back to the 1st century BC. It is the story of a young boy, Marcus, who through no fault of his own, ends up as a trainee gladiator.

This is a typical Simon Scarrow book--a thoroughly entertaining yarn, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys their 'history with battles'. The combat sequences are well-handled --as you would expect--and the story is developed deftly. If I have a quibble, it is that the first part of the book is a little ... not dull, but one-dimensional? Whilst we meet Marcus's parents, his dog, assorted sailors and his eventual captors, there is only limited interaction between Marcus and the other characters, and it is only when he takes his place at the gladiatorial school that the story takes off. To be fair, from that point on the story fairly whizzes along.

Fight for Freedom was originally published in 2011 but has now been upgraded to an 'activities text' aimed at the KS3 market. This includes a series of related reading activities, and helpful word definitions. I found the definitions slightly uneven in terms of helpfulness: for instance, whilst one explains that 'coaming' is the edge of a cargo hatch (pretty superfluous to the action), both 'denarii' and 'sestercii' are used to measure money, with no explanation of the difference and no comparison with present day values. However, this is purely personal, and it certainly did not spoil the reading of the story.

Overall, Gladiator is well worth a read, though I suspect it will gravitate towards a male audience who likes their history with battles. Being that sort of person, I shall probably hunt out the second book.

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Author:Kendall, Phil
Publication:NATE Classroom
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2012
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