The Gladiator is the compelling ninth novel in Simon Scarrow's best-selling Eagles of the Empire series. A must read for fans of Bernard Cornwell.
While centurions Macro and Cato are returning to Rome from a harrowing campaign against the Parthians, their transport ship is almost capsized by a tidal wave. They barely make it to the port of Matala in Crete where they are stunned to find a devastated town. An earthquake has struck the island, destroying its cities and killing thousands. In the chaotic aftermath, large bands of the island's slaves begin to revolt and local bandits, taking advantage of the slave rebellion, urge the Cretans to overthrow the Roman administration. With many of the island's troops either killed or wounded during the earthquake, the governor of the province calls on Macro and Cato for help. Can they move swiftly enough to counter the rebellion before it sweeps the Romans from the island?
"I don't need this kind of compeition." (Bernard Cornwall)
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Yes, because I love Scarrow's series on centurions. This one is especially interesting because of the complexities of the local plot -- a slave revolt on Crete -- intertwined with the political implications for the Roman Empire.
Yes. There are very interesting twists and unexpected turns, as when Julia is captured by the rebel gladiator and is later freed by Cato.
The final attack by sea and land on the rebels' encampment.
This is one of Scarrow's better efforts.
Good one, better than expected
The evocation of how hard and precarious life was, especially of course for those who were born slaves or ended up as slaves. It also brought me closer to the sense of what life must have felt like.
I enjoyed the book more than certain negative reviews had led me to expect. I don't entirely disagree with their objections (the romance, a certain novelistic crudeness -- I don't mean crude language! -- implausible elements such as the senator sending his daughter away for her safety when it seems at least as dangerous to expose her to the huge numbers of marauding slaves), but on the whole they did not bother me too much, perhaps because I was not looking for literary perfection.