The marketing claim for this novel, that ‘Ben Hur meets National Velvet’, led me to believe that we might see a finale in which chariots hurtled over Grand National fences. Disappointingly, this doesn’t happen. But this tale of an expert teenage girl charioteer does drive a coach and horses through the accustomed gender roles of ancient Rome. And who’s to say that, given the opportunity, girls couldn’t do as good a job as boys at driving horses at breck-neck speed in a circle. If you forgive the resolutely ahistorical premise of the tale, it’s actually a cracking good adventure. There’s a lot of fascinating information about chariot racing, the horses and the charioteers, the training regime, and the culture and fan base surrounding the races. There’s even a historical supervillain: Emperor Caligula, no less. Dido is the daughter of the trainer of the Greens, a leading chariot racing team. She has ambitions to become the first woman charioteer in the Circus Maximus but, seeing her father murdered on the orders of Caligula (he is definitely a mixed blessing as a super-fan), she is forced to flee to North Africa, leaving Porcellus, her favourite horse, behind. How she returns to Rome to realise her ambition, to be reunited with Porcellus, and to thwart Caligula, has some satisfying twists and turns, memorable characters, late family revelations; and even a stand in for Messala, Ben Hur’s friend turned implacable rival. All boiling up to a show-down in the Circus where Dido is posing as a North African princess and driving a mean team of horses.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Ellie http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Ellie2021-03-12 22:12:252021-04-07 19:46:45Circus Maximus: Race to the Death