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Review of "Gladiatrix" by Russell Whitfield
Review by Medusa alias Svenja G. of

Russell Whitfield
Paperback 448 pages
ISBN 978-1905802-09-8
Release Date 18th March 2008
Price £7.99

The Spartan priestess Lysandra of a (fictitious) cult of Athene ends up after being shipwrecked in a ludus of women gladiators only. Being trained at her temple in sword fighting she nonetheless has to get used to the harsh training at the ludus and that she has now the status of a slave. As it is usual if people and esp. women are cramped together in a place like a gladiator school she makes friends but also enemies. With the support of the lanista she becomes a renowned gladiatrix loved by the crowd. In the governor of Asia Minor she finds a powerful supporter.

Russell Whitfield wrote an enthralling novel with a good insight of Roman history. Also some of his descriptions of the bouts are very good, mentioning moves what I have done in my training as well or describing the same problems I face when fighting with the large scutum. On the other hand he had a certain largesee when it comes to the gladiator types. I know he had done this on purpose I nonetheless think the story would have worked as well when having had the women to fight in authentic gear and pairings.

The story though had some interesting twists which made reading more interesting than to have a plot where you foresee how it will go, e.g. the meeting of Lysandra with the governor Frontinus ends in a totally different way than expected. The end remains open so this books calls for a sequel which I will surely like to read as well.

If you can accept a great largesse in authenticity in a historic novel you surely will enjoy this book, if you prefer a historic novel to be more accurate you might have some problems with this book because not only the gladiator types are not authentic, also the priesthood of the main character is purely fiction.

BTW the author is also registered here on the board under the name Lanista so you could ask questions re his book also directly to him.
Thanks for the review! It's definitely something I would read. Smile
Sara T.
RAT Rules for Posting

Courage is found in unlikely places. [size=75:2xx5no0x] ~J.R.R Tolkien[/size]
Definately a good read I recommend it.
Charity shop £1.50.. Smile
Mike Carroll.

Dying aint much of a living.
How did you get hold of a copy, Mike - just wondering!


Quote:How did you get hold of a copy, Mike - just wondering!



Just having a trawl through the old threads...Yawn Christmas eve. awaiting Father Christmas to come down the chimney...So I can light the fire..heh heh heh.

That book Russ..I found it in a Charity shop in Godalming Surrey. Read it from cover to cover in about two days...Its very erotic in places. Lent it to my mate and his missus complained he spent too long on the loo. (Thats the only place he can have a read in peace)
On another point I think I recognize your face..You with II AUGUSTA?
Ive been offered a place with them. What they like?
Mike Carroll.

Dying aint much of a living.
Hey Mike - Merry Christmas to you.

I'm amazed that you got it in a charity shop cos it wasn't released till March 18th (your post is dated before that of course). You might have an advance preview copy that went out to reviewers. I think it says "uncorrected copy" or something on the front.

I hope you enjoyed it, man.

A lot of people mention the erotic bit, it seems to be one of the things that people pick up on it's reviewed! It was something that I agonised over because it was really hard to write. I mean, I didn't want to write a porno scene - it had to be a love scene, right. But I'm not a 19 year old girl (well, only at the weekends when my name is "Alison") so it was a tough ask. Luckily, I have two female friends who are in same sex relationships so they read the bit and advised me on it. The kind of stopped it from having a 70's bass-line playing in the background and the scene interupted by me turning up in a pair of dungarees with a big moustace and chest wig muttering something about being able to fix the plumbing.

II Augusta. A great bunch of lads who really helped me in the research for the book. Dave Richardson and his brother Lindsay run the Roman Army part and Graham Ashford does the gladiatorial piece. They are absolute experts on the subject and every bit of kit is spot on. I can't recommend them highly enough - you should go for it.

They put me on punishment detail once when we did Archeon because I went off and got drunk with some Dutch guys and didn't turn up for the show the next day (long story) and they called me AWOL from there on in. They added the "punlisment" into the show, so it was a great laugh. They're really good fun and whilst everything is very accurate they don't take themselves too seriously which is great.

As I say, if you have the time to invest in re-enactment, then I'd say go for it definately.


Hi Russ, Merry Christmas or santa natalia whatever yer bag.
Ive just been playing with my new camera and trying to send pics of my stuff to [email protected] Aug.
Im surprised about the advanced copy bit Ill check that out when I get it back. I enjoyed it. You have to have that Lurv interest...however explicit!!!
Half naked women...all that sweat.....corrrrrrrrrrrr :twisted:

Im definately going to have a go with IIAug..Trouble is, my shiney new scutum I got off Adrian Wink is gonna need a new paint job..Unfortunately it is not flying the IIAug team colours Tongue

Regards Mike
Mike Carroll.

Dying aint much of a living.
Hi Russ, great book.
A bit of everything you fancy really- sex, combat, romance, humour, more combat and more sex....
Appeals to just about everyone.

I can't comment on historical facts as my knowledge is far more limited than others regarding this

However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else though was the consistency of the characters personalities even in vastly different scenarios. You got the psychology spot on for this, and especially the prisoner mentality, and the way some women who were sneered at, or deemed 'inadequate' barbarians came into their own, but in a realistic manner (i.e. they didn't suddenly change from seemingly hairy, uncouth rough-around-the edges common women into sexy, well toned warrior princesses (a la soppy 'ugly duckling becomes swan princess' type crap) but the way they turned out to be more intelligent and agile than Lysandra gave them credit for but in a subtle way. I loved the way you portrayed Lysandra too, although the heroine and main focus of the story, although admirable, she had faults, she wasn't perfect and was downright stupid and naive in her arrogance a lot of the time. The character evoked both dislike and schadenfreude as well as pity and admiration. I loved the emotional rollercoaster that was evident from the way the characters went from thinking they were invincible one minute to being totally floored by despair and hopelessness the next, and the way they reacted in the ever uncertain environment. Great novel, great storyline and above all, spot on and very individual characters and the way they reacted physically and mentally to their plights in a most realistic way- truth is stranger than fiction, and this novel was more believable from a psychological point of view- whether historically inacurrate or not-, and therefore far more fascinating than any I have read in a long time.
I look forward to your next book

10 out of 10
Memmia AKA Joanne Wenlock.
Friends of Letocetum
Hi Memmia

First of all, thanks so much for reading "Gladiatrix." I'm made up that you liked it :-) )

Making Lysandra so arrogant and pig-headed was a bit of a risk. But I reckoned that I should try to be true to her character - I mean, she's from a washed-up former super-power and still believes that the Spartans are the most perfect race ever created. To be fair, she's been indoctrinated into this since she was seven! But you have it spot on - despite being very "book-learned" she's naive, not very "street-smart" and all the rest of it. So whilst she thinks she's being very clever, often she's having the wool pulled over her eyes or people are taking the wee out of her, or they're just manipulating her for their own ends.

As for the barbarians and secondary cast, I wanted to try to make sure that everyone had their motivations and that because the other fighters weren't the main characters, they still had more about them than just being people for Lysandra to beat on her way to the top (though, they were that too, I guess).

I hope its accurate. I've took some liberties with the fighting styles but other than that, I tried as much as I could to keep it real. The guys here and at UNRV were (and continue to be) a great help.

Again - thanks so much for checking the book out - I'm really chuffed that you liked it, and I'll keep trying on that second one!



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