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An ancient pillar depicting two female gladiators gives Whitfield the inspiration for his first novel, an action-packed, blood-soaked and sexy sapphic first-century saga. Fans of epic cat fights, girl-on-girl action, war strategy and bloody combat will hardly be put off by the stilted language and clunky character work that litter the way as a shipwrecked Spartan priestess, Lysandra, is forced into combat as a female gladiator. Meanwhile, her lover, the stunning Gladiatrix Secunda Eirianwen, and mean-as-a-snake veteran warrior Sorina mix it up Roman-style for slave owner Lucius Balbus, who runs the lucrative gladiatrix games. Lysandra rises through the ranks, her eyes on buying her freedom, but before she can free herself, she must engage in a breathless, knock-down, drag-out big-screen battle with Sorina. Think: girls gone wild-with swords. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.