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Item - Life as a Gladiator

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Series: You Choose: Interactive History Adventures
Author: Burgan, Michael
Date: August 1, 2010
ISBN: 1429656387 / 9781429656382
Length: 112 pages
Number of Endings: 17
User Summary: You can choose to have adventures as a member of Spartacus' revolt, as a young gladiator-in-training, or as a veteran gladiator.
Dtar's Thoughts:

I think that the second two stories do a good job of educating about the training and fighting of gladiators. I went into the book with no interest in the subject yet found it interesting, gaining insights into the different types of gladiators and how they balanced armor vs. mobility, etc. Each of the second two stories offer two main choices, and that reduces some of the depth of adventure that can be had. After that choice you have another choice (fight defensively or go on the offense for example) that can mostly determine whether you have success or failure. Since there isn't much chance to really get to know your characters' strengths and weaknesses, it can be hard to make the right decision, so it can seem a bit random. At the same time, the average reader will go through most possibilities and get a sense for what choices a combatant makes and what the consequences can be. To have too much focus on the adventure of fighting and the goal of success seems like it might tip over into the realm of glorifying the combat. I think a better place for that is the first story, where there is a clear "good fight" to side with. Unfortunately, I found the first story to be not be very enjoyable. It seemed more like a list of events and choices than a story.

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Guillermo's Thoughts:

I found this book more uneven in quality than others in the series. On one hand, the adventure featuring Spartacus is entertainingly written and includes strategic choices. The other two adventures, for their part, are less well written and the outcomes of choices feel more random. Overall, I don't think the author was as inspired when he wrote this book as when he wrote World War II Spies. This is a rather underwhelming effort from an author capable of doing better.

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Kveto's Thoughts:

Quite a fun entry in the series (although I'll admit I'm biased as gladiators are a big interest for me) showing a variety of paths and including some basics about gladiators.

It offers three main paths. The first is 73BC as a member of the slave rebellion led by Spartacus which gives military and strategic choices with a number of tragic endings.

The 2nd is 79AD as a gladiator trainee in Pompeii. This gives an accurate breakdown of the lives and classes of gladiators (unlike the film Gladiator, which had fighters using a mix and match of equipment. Actual Gladiators were very specialised in terms of class and equipment. Seeing a retarius "net fighter" with a sword or helmet would be like seeing a modern day hockey player with a baseball bat and a boxing helmet).

The final option is 107AD as a veteran gladiator in his final fight.

Overall, I found this the most enjoyable of the series, striking a good balance of education and action.

More reviews by Kveto

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ken G. for the softback cover images and to Guillermo Paredes for the hardback cover image.
Users Who Own This Item: auximenes

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