'Arena: Challenger' is the second book in Simon Scarrow's Arena' series. It quickly picks up where the first one left off: in the sweaty, bloody, death stained, home of the damned, gladiator arena. Macro is surly, which is to say he's normal, and in the middle of a discussion with Greek scum. This particular scum goes by the name of Murena. While reading this story I couldn't help but think of something. As humans we naturally reminisce about everything; high school glory days, old flames, music, our favorite hide-a-way. Politics is no different. All too often we think of the (brutal) Romans as being honorable and fiercely loyal. That may be true in some cases... but not in this damn series.
'Arena: Challenger' deals more with the politics than its predecessor, but it is still very exciting. It’s a very fast read that will make your blood boil as you witness Macro and Pavo used as helpless pawns for the whims of Emperor Claudius and his Greek toga-lifters. Against all odds Pavo has won his first gladiatorial bout... but he shouldn't have. And that is the meat for this story.
Emperor Claudius is weak, and this weakling is led by cowards. His Greek "advisors" kept me fuming throughout this entire short story because these fools have a skill for manipulation that would impress a Washington politician. Anyway, since Pavo was selfish and decided to skewer his last opponent, the Emperor's royal Greek thespians have decided to cook up another impossible task for our two reluctant players.
I jest but situations don't get more dangerous than this. Pavo must survive in the ludus surrounded gladiators who don't like his past nor his former station. The fights are brutal, unfair, and severely painful. Macro must survive alongside a former drunken gladiator. And train him. Just like he trained Pavo. Oh the tangled web Simon weaves! With all this going on life still has a way of wanting to be noticed, so look for other small troubles to rise up and pester our favorite poor little rich-until-his-father-turned-traitor-on-the-empire-and-now-he-must-fight-till-the-death-on-every-occasion boy. (Breathe).
I know I'm only two short stories in but I'm truly enjoying this series by Mr. Scarrow. And this is coming from someone who will go out and buy an item after I've ordered it online because I HATE to wait. Luckily it looks like these eBooks will be coming out roughly every two months. In case you want to know, here is the rundown on the future releases: