Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gladiatrix by Rhonda Roberts

ISBN: 9780732288556 ISBN10: 073228855X;
On Sale: 1/05/2009
Format: Paperback
Trimsize: 181 x 113 x 37 mm
Pages: 592; $20.99

From HarperCollins: Book Description

When time travel was invented, everyone thought it would solve their problems.
But for 22-year-old Kannon, it′s about to turn her life upside down.

Left for dead in the Blue Mountains when she was just a baby, Kannon has now discovered that an American Time Marshal, Victoria Dupree, could be her real mother. But Victoria has gone missing in ancient Rome while investigating the Hierophant, the mysterious leader of the Isis cult.Kannon desperately wants to find Victoria, but the US National Time Administration is standing in her way...

Not exactly the type of book I would pick up, but in my quest to discover new writers and fresh takes on tired ideas, I read this new release.

Gladiatrix is an interesting book. Old, overused idea with a fresh take. That sums up this book in a few words. But, I liked it. Kannon is 22, when she was a kid, she was kidnapped and taken to Australia, where she nearly died but was stumbled upon by a Japanese tourist, Yuki, who in the end became her adoptive guardian and taught her to be strong via martial arts.

The book opens explosively with a confrontation that (in-between paragraphs) explains a lot of background. Very well done and a great opening scene, it shows Kannon and her martial arts skills and tells us, she can handle herself very well.

There is an assortment of characters that all seem pretty real, like someone I know. I especially liked Des, a retired copper who sees an International news item and notices a resemblance between a Time Marshal (a time machine was built in the 60's, it's common knowledge in this reality) and Kannon. A very strong resemblance. And he tells Kannon and in the end she flies from Australia to the USA, to check whether this woman is her mother.

This book has a great idea regarding time travel, one can only go into the past, not the future. When one returns from the past, the past warps back to its original form as if the Time Marshal had never been there. Extremely fantastic idea, I had never considered until now.

Having convinced the National Time Administration of who she is, Kannon is granted an opportunity to speak with Victoria Dupree (but only if the Time Marshal allows it). She is waiting in Victoria's office when a group of armed extremists attack the centre and start smashing the time machine. They capture Kannon and she is thrown into the time machine and sent back to Rome 8AD.

This is a neat Rome, very real-life like where life is cheap and people are stabbed for being in the way, the poor sectors are exactly that--poor, and Gladiator sport is booming.

Kannon has a translator machine in the form of jewellery. Very Star Trek.

The book moves at a decent pace, though I thought the descriptions were a little on the heavy side, everything was detailed, perhaps a little too much. But I was okay with that. What I was not okay with (and it ruined the book for me) was the translations with the working class. The translations would start off fine and then characters started using: Oi, Ya, 'e, shit like that. Oh, and shit, crap and fuck translated perfectly as well. I find it hard to believe that a translator would understand a slang term like fuck and translate it perfectly. I once saw a movie based in a similar time where a character called another "A Sponge" -- translating (in my head) to: "A Twat". I thought the translator should have translated: Oh for fuck's sake into: oh for sponge sake. There was a brief explanation of how it worked nurologically and I may have missed something.

Apart from that, this book is an excellent read and fun as well. Rhonda ties all the streams together very nicely, including the dog she has LOL. That was so neat, the book is well worth your time.

The book is large but I finished it in a week. The pages practically turn themselves.

Overall: 83%

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