Thursday, April 7, 2022

The Gladiator 1: Hill of the Dead by Andrew Quiller

The Gladiator (AKA The Eagles)
Hill of the Dead
by Andrew Quiller (Laurence James and/or Kenneth Bulmer)
1975, Pinnacle

Starts off with some gladiator game sleaze. Criminals have their intestines ripped out by wild animals as noblewomen fap in the stands amongst pissing slaves. Flavius the gladiator thinks back eight years to when he was known as the Roman soldier Marcus Julius Brittanicus. Marcus' father was involved in some scandal and committed suicide, and he carries the burden of the family shame.

He escapes being killed by Jewish Zealots with the help of Samuel ben Ezra, and the two form an unlikely friendship. Marcus fights a gladiator slave for the entertainment of wealthy merchants, defends against a Zealot raid that could have been lifted from a Western novel, and eventually is assigned to run a reconnaissance mission at the fortress at Masada.

After some rock climbing, Marcus runs into Samuel, and Marcus is able to just wander back and forth between the Roman camp and the Jewish fortress relaying messages. Not a lot happening plot wise, but some brutal nastiness in the meantime.

I'm assuming Laurence wrote this one as it has what's become his trademark - introducing the main character by having him murder an innocent prostitute to keep her quiet. I'm assuming Bulmer wrote the second as the story went in a completely different direction. The second installment had Marcus on a quest of vengeance, taking out the men who disgraced his father. Here in the first, it's just character background.

Paperback from AbeBooks

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