Saturday, 25 February 2012

Book Review: Mask of the Gladiator by Georgie Lee

Title: Mask of the Gladiator
Author: Georgie Lee
Release Date: 20 January 2012
Number of pages: 54 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Source: review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing info: Goodreads, Author's siteAmazon

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads apetizer: Livia Duronius is driven to seek out a gladiator after watching him triumph in the Colosseum. His touch arouses a sense of hope she hasn't felt since Rome fell under the tyrannical rule of Caligula—and her late husband betrayed her. Though in danger of losing more than her heart, she vows to see him again, even after she learns her uncle has arranged her marriage to a senator.

Senator Titus Marius cannot resist indulging in a passionate encounter with the veiled woman who waits for him after the games, though he faces execution if his true identity is discovered. Bound by honor to wed another, and embroiled in a plot to free Rome from madness, he never expects to see the mystery woman again.

When the fates reunite them in the marriage bed, Titus vows to protect Livia at all costs—even from the lecherous eyes of the emperor...

My thoughts: I love Latin (studied it for 3 years) and everything to do with the Latin/Roman culture, so when I saw that one of Carina Press' new releases was Mask of the Gladiator I knew I had to read it. And I was blown away! Not only was it a captivating story taking me on a time travel through millennia but Georgie Lee managed the near-impossible: tell a fantastic story in 50 pages!

The description of the amphitheatre, the gladiator fight, the clothes and societal customs were all very atmospheric. I could hear the cheers and felt the buzz as if I were in that arena witnessing the fight.

Not only did Georgie Lee transport the reader back in time to Ancient Rome she should also be praised for painting such a true and realistic picture of the hierarchy of society.

Usually my main problem with novellas is that I can't buy into love developing between the characters in such a short time, so I was amazed how Georgie Lee made me believe and accept that after a very brief meeting the hero and heroine indeed connected. The attraction between Livia and Titus was sizzling, but what gave their relationship more substance was that they connected on several levels: besides the physical attraction they shared the same values, sense of duty and vocation for Rome.

“Only the weak give up their wives to Caligula’s lust. A true Roman stands up to another man whether he is emperor or enemy.”
She clapped her hands sarcastically. “Such pretty words. When the soldiers come, you will flee, just like my husband did.”
“Never.” His powerful voice struck the snide smile from her lips. “I’m a soldier, not just a senator. I know the meaning of honor and duty. I’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with my legion against barbarians determined to massacre us and destroy Rome. I will not run simply because Caligula’s men come for me. I will fight.”

And of course Titus' strong and charismatic presence didn't hurt either ;-)

As a Latin aficionado I appreciated all the small Latin details making the story authentic and atmospheric.

Verdict: I can't remember the last time I've read such a teeny short story (50 pages) and was so satisfied with the outcome! Mask of the Gladiator is superbly written, and despite its shortness it gives a well developed and wholesome story. I loved it!!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10 of course due to length restrictions no deep character development but they felt real and vivid and their relationship was built gradually
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 10/10 - cover perfection, it couldn't be any better!

Buy it:

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