Review: The Last Gladiatrix by Eva Scott



Title:  The Last Gladiatrix

Author: Eva Scott


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


In the dust and death of the Collosseum, a slave fights for freedom, a soldier fights for his life, and they both fight for the love that has been forbidden.

Captured and enslaved by a Roman legion, Xanthe never expects to end up training for the Colosseum floor, but every night after the day’s march, she is put through her paces by a Roman solider who challenges her, tests her, and excites her.

Titus is drawn to Xanthe, her fire and her spirit, so he breaks one of his rules and brings notice on himself, offering to train her as a gladiatrix to spare her a courtesan’s role. But training her, working with her, soon becomes too much. Titus knows the penalty for taking property that does not belong to him, but how long can he resist?


I enjoyed this novella a lot!  I love stories set in Ancient Rome, and when I saw The Last Gladiatrix had gladiators, I was all about reading this book!  Gladiators are even better than ninjas and pirates.  They are better than ninjas and pirates put together!  There’s something about that desperate struggle for survival and freedom that makes them so compelling.  Knowing that a bad day in the Coliseum will more than likely equate to a violent and premature death makes reading them suspenseful and exciting.   I’m always worried that the protagonist is going to die or be severely injured.  It can be so stressful!

Xanthe is Sarmatian, and her people lived on the steppes with their horses, fiercely protecting their herds.  After Xanthe is captured by Huns and given as tribute to a Roman general, her prospects for a long, happy life seem dim.  When it’s decided that she’s earn the general a ton of money fighting in the games, her fate is sealed.  The general doesn’t expect her to survive her first fight, and worse, he doesn’t care.  Xanthe is nothing to him, worth even less than a his sandals.  When Centurion Titus Valens convinces the general that she’ll bring him more coin if she survives to fight again, Titus is put in charge of her training.  Xanthe and Titus soon find themselves surrendering to an attraction they can’t deny.

The only part of the story that didn’t really work for me was the instant, simmering lust that brewed between Xanthe and Titus.  I didn’t care how handsome he was, she had just been taken prisoner, the Huns and the Romans treated her like a dog, and I expected her to be fierce and more independent that she was.  After all of the intense training on the long, long march to Rome, I would have bought into raging attraction, but  for it to happen so quickly after being captured, it felt like too much, too soon. 

Despite that one quibble, I thought this was a great read.  The pacing never lagers, the fighting is ferocious and intense, and both Titus and Xanthe are sympathetic characters.  They have both been dealt the worst hand possible, yet they refuse to fold and give up.  I kept wondering how they were going to survive and get their HEA.  I liked them so much that I’d love to see what adventures they face next.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Soman Chainani, Author of The School For Good and Evil

Please welcome Soman Chainani to the virtual offices today.  Soman is here to chat about the School for Good and Evil, which releases today.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Soman Chainani] A professional storyteller by trade. Sensitive, intense, athletic, and a lover of all things fantastic and imaginative.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The School For Good and Evil?

[Soman Chainani] THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL is the first book in an epic new fantasy trilogy, which follows two heroines: gorgeous Sophie, with her waist-long blond hair and her dreams of becoming a princess — and her black-wearing friend Agatha, awkward and dour, who everyone thinks is a witch. But when they arrive at the School for Good and Evil, where children are trained to become fairy-tale heroes and villains, they’re put in the wrong schools. Sophie is dumped in Evil to learn Uglification, Death Curses, and other villainous arts, while Agatha finds herself at the School for Good amid handsome princes and fair maidens. But the question remains: Is it really a mistake?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Soman Chainani] I’ve been toying with versions of this story since I was 12. But it finally all congealed in my head one day when I was in London on a film project. I remember walking in Regents Park and I had the image of the two girls, one in pink, one in black, falling into the wrong schools. The entire story just opened up, as it had been there all along. I ended up 30 minutes late to my next meeting, just because I was ambling around, lost in the idea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Soman Chainani] Diva. Iconoclast. Charismatic.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Agatha had a theme song, what would it be?

[Soman Chainani] “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” by Garbage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie is never without.

[Soman Chainani] A homemade honeycream facial scrub

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Agatha’s school bag?

[Soman Chainani] No makeup. No change of clothes (she always wears black). No regrets.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Soman Chainani] Madonna. Miyazaki. Classic Disney cartoons. Roald Dahl. Stanley Kubrick.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Soman Chainani] A hard workout before I start. A reclining chair. A lunch I’m looking forward to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Soman Chainani] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. It made me cry in a café and I remember looking up after the last page and seeing the waiters giving me very concerned looks.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Soman Chainani] From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. I read that book every day for months and months. I loved the idea of being parentless in a museum. I still do!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Soman Chainani] I’m a tennis maniac. On another planet in an alternate universe, I’m a pro tennis player. If I’m not playing tennis or writing, I’m likely reading, watching movies, travelling or having a long dinner with friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Soman Chainani] My website is:

Twitter @somanchainani

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The School for Good and Evil by clicking the links below:


About the book:

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Win Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 Edited by Catherine Asaro!

Thanks to the super awesome peeps at Prometheus Books, I have a copy of Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 to give to one of you!  Here’s more info about the book:

Nebula Awards Showcase 2013

Edited by Catherine Asaro

The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories in the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of
America®. The editor selected by SFWAs anthology committee (chaired by Mike Resnick) is two-time Nebula winner, Catherine Asaro.

This years volume includes stories and excerpts by Connie Willis, Jo Walton, Kij Johnson, Geoff Ryman, John Clute, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Ferrett Steinmetz, Ken Liu, Nancy Fulda, Delia Sherman, Amal El-Mohtar, C. S. E. Cooney, David Goldman, Katherine Sparrow, E. Lily Yu, and Brad R. Torgersen.

Editor Catherine Asaro is a two-time Nebula Award winner and bestselling novelist of more than twenty-five books, as well as a dancer, teacher, and musician. She is a multiple winner of the Readers Choice Award from Analog magazine and a three-time recipient of the RT BOOKClub Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Her soundtrack Diamond Star, for her novel of the same name, is performed with the rock band Point Valid. She is a theoretical physicist with a PhD from Harvard and teaches part-time at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Visit her at

390 pages • ISBN 978-1-61614-783-9 • Paperback: US $18.00 / $19.00 Canada • May 14, 2013

Ebook ISBN 978-1-61614-784-6

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