- Paperback: 660 pages
- Publisher: 1st Book Library (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0759641013
- ISBN-13: 978-0759641013
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,572,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Gladiator Isarna Paperback – September 1, 2001
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Isarna is a young and beautiful Iceni living in a small forest in Britain with her mother and brother following the warrior Queen Boudicca defeat. Her world is turned upside down one day when she and her brother are intercepted by a Roman cavalry patrol. Captured, the comely Isarna finds herself in a strange new world. The world of the Roman Empire she hardly knew existed such was her isolation previously.
A plaything to Valerius the officer who found her, she bides her time between being the object of his lust and seeking to escape.
Escape brings with it tragedy and learning. Isarna finds out who her parents truly are and her own surprisingly noble identity. An identity that carries with it great risk for herself and rewards for those who would betray her as Boudicca lives on.
Her adventures and trials are numerous. Ultimately Valerius's determination to possess her brings her to Rome though slavery does not temper her desire for revenge even if she must die. For Valerius's father is the most despised man in Britain. The architect of the crushing Iceni defeat. As for Valerius, Isarna's feelings rage from hate to obsession as she struggles to weigh up whether his value to her is measured greater in life or death.
My criticism of the novel is only that Isarna suffers great losses throughout the book. She is raped many times by her various captors , she loses family, friends, numerous lovers and see's tragedy constantly (some 20 such events). Yet she emerges like teflon - nothing emotionally sticks as one might expect of a real flesh and blood young woman finding her way in a cruel world . The authoress reduces her to a two dimensional character who seems to just move on. I felt better characterisation was the one thing lacking that could have made this a far superior work. However having said that i guess we must be allow some leeway to the authoress for the fact our western ancestors were no doubt a hardier more resiliant people than our present day lifestyle and moral perceptions have enabled us to become on the whole. It may also be the authoress's style of keeping her emphasis on constant adventure and action (which the novel certainly has plenty of)as opposed to charaterisation. If so it doesnt hint at why the fight scenes in the arena weren't given more suspense and buildup in the way "The Lightbearers" were which truly inspire the reader to believe they front row and present with the lead character, in the Colessum.
The research is not as rich as "The Lightbearer" but in "The Gladiator Isarna's" defence few classically set novels are. Its easy to compare as both novels cover the same era in Roman History and have a comely female lead character of similar age. Both are noble rank to their people , both are the object of mens desires and end up interacting with the same Flavian dynasty that ruled Rome latter latter third of the 1st C AD and ultimately end up in the arena. Though despite its name - one has to wait till the last quarter of the book for the arena action to commence.
This is a good read though not for historical purists, feminists and probably not for die hard fans of "The Lightbearer" who might be offended at the closeness of the two titles in some areas. But with more character development and suspense (particuarly in the fight scenes) it would certainly have been an even more absorbing story.
But suffice to say it held my interest, has a nice flow, and I still can say I enjoyed Isarna and her adventures very much.
This is the story of Isarna, who lives in the forest with her mother and brother. They are some kind of Iceni nobility (the tribe of Boudicca who rebelled against the Romans and killed a huge amount before being defeated) and so have to hide from the Romans. One day she and her brother Cain are captured by the Roman's while out swimming (in a vaguely incestuous way) and the commander of the Romans, Valerius, whose father defeated Boudicca, takes her for his own sexual toy. Even though she has been kidnapped and captured and is only 14 and a virgin, Isarna finds him sexually stimulating and participates happily with him in bed.
For the rest of the book Isarna escapes from Valerius, is brought back, escapes again, meets her long lost father who was a gladiator in Rome and now has a Roman lover (who was Valerius's lover)goes to Rome against her will to be Valerius's slave, and ends up as a gladiator herself after fighting with his father.
I swear to god that 90% of this book is about sex. How sexually appealing Isarna is, how sexually appealing her father is (and Valerius too.) It's annoying. The rest of the book is just not well written, like what plot there is wasn't thought out very well in advance. It is easy to read, but it's repetitive and I don't think the author is really a writer at heart. And the ending is just weird. Not to mention that a ton of the tings that happen in this book would never happen in history and couldn't have happened because of Roman culture. I don't even want to go into it all!
Also so much of this book has clearly been taken from" The Light bearer", not in the way of plot really, but in tone and time frame which just makes me mad. On a scale of books about female gladiators, this is better than "Liberty" but not even a third as good "The Light Bearer."
Two stars-not recommend.