Action-packed and hot!
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!
The only slight negative comment that I have about Gladiatrix is that there were a lot of small errors which should have been picked up by the proof reader(s). However, although this usually irritates the hell out of me, the story-telling swept me along at such a pace that I became much more forgiving than usual.
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.
Gldiatrix is the way that historical fiction should be; for me, anyway.