Gladiatrix [NOOK Book]

Overview


The Ancient Roman public's hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian's passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in the Eastern Empire. Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan ...

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Gladiatrix

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Overview


The Ancient Roman public's hunger for gladiatorial combat has never been greater. The Emperor Domitian's passion for novelty and variety in the arena has given rise to a very different kind of warrior: the Gladiatrix.

Sole survivor of a shipwreck off the coast of Asia Minor, Lysandra finds herself the property of Lucius Balbus, owner of the foremost Ludus for female gladiators in the Eastern Empire. Lysandra, a member of an ancient Spartan sect of warrior priestesses, refuses to accept her new status as a slave. Forced to fight for survival, her deadly combat skills win the adoration of the crowds, the respect of Balbus.

But Lysandra's Spartan pride also earns her powerful enemies: Sorina, Gladiatrix Prima and leader of the Barbarian faction, and the sadistic Numidian trainer, Nastasen. When plans are laid for the ultimate combat spectacle to honor the visit of the emperor's powerful new emissary, Lysandra must face her greatest and deadliest trial.

This is a thrilling first novel that combines fascinating historical detail with blistering action.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.
Library Journal

During the first century c.e., a time when Rome had expanded its empire far beyond the borders of Italia, those who fought against the might of Rome and were captured in battle were frequently brought back to the heart of the empire to take part in gladiatorial games for the entertainment of the masses. Though most of these gladiators were men, debut author Whitfield portrays women slaves who were trained as fighters to provide an amusing, albeit equally bloody, spectacle between the more serious arena bouts. Following a shipwreck, Lysandra, a 19-year-old Spartan priestess of Athena, is captured and sold to a training school for female gladiatrices, where she excels in the art of combat and becomes the adored darling of the games. Arrogant and self-righteous, Lysandra is not a particularly sympathetic character. The novel is further marred by the lack of historical context, though Whitfield does elaborate on time and place in the author's notes. Still, for its description of the games and the lives of gladiatrices, this is an intriguing and action-packed read. Purchase where there is demand for historical fiction of the ancient world.
—Jane Henriksen Baird

From the Publisher

"A great debut that shines an entirely new light on the glory and the bloodshed of the Roman arena...It's exciting stuff, with well rounded characters, nail-biting duels to the death and vividly depicted settings. Gladiatrix makes Gladiator look very tame indeed!" --Simon Scarrow, author of Under the Eagle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429967013
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 520,069
  • File size: 389 KB

Meet the Author

RUSSELL WHITFIELD's lifelong interest in Ancient Greece and Rome inspired him to write his first novel, Gladiatrix. He lives in England.

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Read an Excerpt


Lysandra would never forget her first time.

Alone, she walked through the darkness of the passageway towards the sun-filled amphitheatre.

As she drew closer to the arena, she became aware of the sound from above — a rhythmic, thrumming cadence that began at the periphery of her consciousness. Distant at first, it became hypnotic as a siren's song, permeating the stone around her, penetrating her to the very bone.

Lysandra battled to keep her churning emotions in check. Fear flowed like ice in her veins and, for a moment, she faltered. Yet part of her surged with the desire to face this most terrible of challenges. It flared only briefly but burned hot enough to sear away her terror. From the darkness, she stepped into the harsh light of the arena.

The roar of the crowd was a living thing as it assaulted her and she staggered beneath its violent intensity. Row upon row of the screaming mob surrounded her, the amphitheatre stuffed full, as if it were a massive god gorging upon base humanity. Her vision swam as she registered innumerable faces, twisted and distorted their mouths wide open with howls of lust and anticipation.

A fetid stench rose from the freshly raked sands, filling her nostrils with the reek of blood mingled with the excrement of slaughtered animals. The venatores, wild beast hunters, had been at their work that day, butchering hundreds of creatures for the delight of the crowd. Her stomach lurched, raw nerves screaming at her to run, to flee this Tartarus made flesh, but again she fought down the urge.

The baying of the frenzied mob increased in its intensity. Her eyes narrowed as she gazed across the arena, emerging from the tunnel that faced her own was another woman.

Her opponent.

Lysandra was only vaguely aware of an arena slave rushing up and thrusting two short swords into her sweat slick hands, as she focussed on her adversary. She realised that the combatants must have been chosen for their physical differences. Whereas she was tall and slender, her foe was short and solidly built, her limbs chunky. To Lysandra’s Spartan eyes, she looked downright vulgar. Huge, udder-like breasts heaved beneath her white tunic, threatening to burst forth from their confinement; this study of Gallic typicality was crowned by straw-coloured hair, the final contrast to the raven-black tresses of Lysandra’s own. There were but two similarities: the weapons they bore and the certain knowledge that, in scant minutes, one of them would die.

The Gaul turned towards the dignitaries’ box and raised her right arm in salute. Lysandra, though unused to arena etiquette, emulated her. She had spent her whole life in ritual observance and made the gesture with confidence. Not that it mattered. The richly clad Roman whom Lysandra assumed to be Sextus Julius Frontinus, the governor and procurator of Asia Minor, did not bother to acknowledge them, his attentions clearly focused on the dusky charms of the slave girl by his side.

Lysandra turned towards her opponent. The two women faced each other, the sea green eyes of the Gaul locked with her own. For interminable moments, they stood, their emotions mirrored in each other’s gaze, and Lysandra felt a sudden, sharp regret at their plight. Though they were not foes of their own volition, Lysandra knew she could not stay her hand. Her eyes hardened with the resoluteness to survive and she saw the other woman nod as she too came to this realisation. They raised their weapons.

For a few heartbeats, all was still. Then, with sudden violence the Gaul attacked and the strangely beautiful sound of iron striking iron sang out as Lysandra met her assault. The Celtic warrior screamed and cursed as she laid in, imbibing rage-fuelled courage. There was no order to her attack, just a constant flurry of hacking blows, dealt with all the strength the stocky body could provide. She was like an avalanche, rolling forward, crushing everything in her path.

Lysandra knew she must be as mist. Most of her life had been spent preparing for combat: a ritual training to be certain; a ceremonial skill never meant to be called upon. But now, in the stark reality of mortal threat, this hard-learnt preparation came to the fore, and her body responded instinctively.

It was as if her opponent was moving underwater. As the Gaul initiated an attack, Lysandra’s own blade moved to deflect the blow. Do not meet force with force, she told herself as she weaved away from the onslaught. Her refusal to engage in a slogging match seemed to encourage her foe, who redoubled her efforts. The Gaul’s feet churned up sand as she pursued Lysandra across the arena, slashing and cutting at thin air. As the chase wore on the crowd erupted into a chorus of boos and cat-calls, demanding more action.

Sweat now plastered the Gaul’s yellow hair to her forehead and darkened the sheer white tunic to gauzy grey. Lysandra saw her shoulders heaving with exertion as she evaded another attack. The Gaul paused momentarily, gasping for breath. It was obvious that she was weakening but, more, her confidence had drained and the insidious worm of doubt was now eating at her fighting spirit. Gamely, she raised her swords, and a sudden rush of fire filled Lysandra’s veins. Now, her instincts screamed at her. Now was the time.

She countered.

Her blades whirled, blurring in their swiftness as she mercilessly turned defence to attack. Her opponent’s parries became desperate with awful suddenness as she back-stepped, swords moving frantically to deflect the onslaught.

Lysandra pressed in harder, the Gaul only stopping her now at the last possible instant. She redoubled her efforts, engaging in a final, furious exchange of blows with her desperate opponent. As the impact of blade on blade jarred her arm, she felt the last strength leech from the barbarian and smashed through her guard.

There was no remorse: just a wondrous, beautiful exultation as she felt the other woman’s flesh yield and part as she rammed home her blade. The Gaul made a choking sound, huge gouts of blood vomiting from her mouth and the gaping wound in her chest. Lysandra dragged the blade out and using her own momentum, spun about. Her sword caught the staggering woman on the neck, severing the head from her body; it arced skywards, the eyes and mouth wide open, frozen forever in shock and pain. The headless body stood wavering for what seemed like an eternity before, with an almost reverential slowness, it toppled backwards and crashed to the sand, blood spreading out behind the gaping neck like a crimson pillow.

With chilling abruptness reality crashed back down upon Lysandra, the roar of the crowd cascading over her, drenching her in a waterfall of dissonance. It was a bizarre tableau: the corpse still twitching at her feet and, approaching her, a tall man, clad as Charon, the ferryman of the dead, bearing a hooked staff. Slowly, and with a degree of ceremony, ‘Charon’ retrieved the Gaul’s head, then attached her torso to the staff. At the same formal pace, he retreated, dragging the body behind him.

Lysandra backed away, then turned and made her way towards the tunnel, her thoughts a confused morass of elation, guilt and relief. © Russell Whitfield 2008
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is an intriguing action-packed ancient Rome thriller that puts a gender bender spin to classic movies like Spartacus and Gladiator

    Gladiatrix
    Russell Whitfield
    St. Martin's, Apr 14 2009, $14.95
    ISBN: 9780312534882

    In the first century, those opposing the ever expanding Roman Empire are either killed or brought into the arena to serve as gladiators. The spectacle does not care about gender as female gladiators are a welcomed sight.

    Nineteen year old Athena priestess Lysandra of Sparta is taken prisoner after a shipwreck. She is sent to combat school to learn to fight in the arena. She soon enters the combat zone owned by slaver Lucius Balbus and proves capable winning her battles. Her goal and that of her lover Secunda Eirianwen are to win their freedom. Whereas he battles a foe in a war to the death she enters mortal combat with an equally lethal adversary.

    This is an intriguing action-packed ancient Rome thriller that puts a gender bender spin to classic movies like Spartacus and Gladiator. The story line is action-packed from the opening sequence when the tall thin Lysandra defeats her short stocky barbaric opponent and never slows down. Readers will have mixed feelings towards her as at times we will root for her and in other times incidents are against her. Although a lack of a sense of being in the first century Roman Empire (minimal background information to anchor time and place) detracts from the interesting "sports" fiction, Russell Whitfield provides the audience with an exciting tale of survival in the arena.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    Loved it!!

    This book was amazing!! It kept me wanting more and as much as I couldnt wait to read to the end, I was sad when it was over. So excited to read the next book. This story would make an awesome movie.

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  • Posted March 2, 2012

    One of my favorites of 2011

    This book kept me riveted and turning pages. It was like the Starz series Spartacus, only better. I loved the descriptive combat scenes, the well crafted characters and the story of proud, Spartan Lysandra. I read Roma Victrix immediately afterward and loved it as well. These two books are keepers on my shelf. I just hope Mr. Whitfield is planning another book in this series. Oh, and Starz, take note! This would make a fantastic premier channel series.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    This book is great!

    Will the second come out for the nook?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2010

    Great Read

    If you can get get your hands on this book, do it! It was a great read!

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  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good but....

    I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up and I found out it was really different. A nice change. It started out really strong and stayed that way until the point I put it down. I really liked it at the begining, because it was something different and I had never read anything about gladiators. Lysandra is a strong character that kept you wanting more.

    I had to stop, because I couldn't take reading a description about two females having a hot steamy scene. Don't get me wrong, my daughter is a lesbian, but I had a problem getting past the love scenes.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book was amazing!!!

    I wasnt sure how i was going to like this book because i didnt really know anything about gladiators or anything back then, but i was surprised at how easy the writing style was to read. everything made sense, the characters drew me in and i found myself unable to put the book down. Everything about the book was amazing and i would DEFINITELY recommend it to others.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

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    Posted April 7, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 13 Customer Reviews

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