Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dead Famous: Spartacus and his Glorious Gladiators by Toby Brown – Book Review

Publisher’s write-up:

‘You have probably heard of Spartacus …

He is dead famous for:
  • Being quite a good gladiator
  • Giving the Romans the run-around
  •  Looking an awful lot like Kirk Douglas.

But have you heard that Spartacus:
  • Fought for the Romans as well as against them
  • Once camped his army of rebel slaves inside a volcano
  • Cut a deal with a bunch of double-crossing pirates?
Yes, even though he is dead, Spartacus is still full of surprises. Now you can read the inside story in Spartacus’s diary, catch up on all the latest battle results in The Daily Gladius, and find out how to keep the mighty Roman  Empire at bay with just a few trusty followers and a cunning plan.’

This is a biography on the young gladiator from Thrace who led a strong revolt against the Mighty Roman Empire around 70 BC. The book is part of the Dead Famous series from Scholastic (now published as Horribly Famous) and is written by Toby Brown and illustrated by Clive Goddard.

Spartacus is bored of herding sheep in Thrace and is looking for some excitement and joins the Roman army to quell his boredom. However, he was handed very mundane tasks and thus, deserts the army, gets married and as a punishment for deserting the army, he is designated as a slave and sold to a gladiator academy, where he performs very well.  However, Spartacus had the ambition of going back home and thus, leads a mutiny along with the fellow gladiators successfully pulling down the gladiator academy, which is the beginning of a mass rebellion by the slaves against the mighty Roman Empire.

The author did a very good job at bringing out the character of Spartacus; thirsty for adventure but not necessarily bloodthirsty, an astute tactician who could look at the bigger picture wherein, he spared the lives of certain Roman captives, so that peasants and other ordinary people are not intimidated by the slave army. The book also brought out the conflicts within the army regarding the way of handling the situation, such as Crixus, who didn’t agree with Spartacus’ rather humane approach. The classes of people in the Roman Empire was also brought out well, as to how slaves and gladiators were supposed to be at the lowest strata, which was an added reason why Romans underestimated them and were also equally embarrassed by such a rebellion.

The best aspect of the book was certainly the illustrations of Clive Goddard; humours, detailed, to the extent that in many cases, it covered both the pages to portray a much clearer picture, an aspect which I have not seen in any of the other books in the same series.

I read the book nearly eight years ago,  when I was perhaps the target audience and I really enjoyed it and found it informative, when I read it again now to refresh my memory, I didn’t enjoy it any less and I would award the book  a rating of eight on ten.

Rating – 8/10

Have a nice day,

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