Spartacus: Morituri by Mark Morris is an entertaining read. I will admit that I have not seen the Spartacus TV series on Starz, which is the world that this novel comes from. However, this novel does not require previous knowledge of that series. It is easy to discern the major players within the first few pages.
In addition to not having seen Spartacus, I will also admit that this novel is not within my usual genre. This book is full of action and intrigue and has a tendency to be very gory and explicit in the arena scenes. I will confess to lightly skimming a few of the battle scenes.
However, the book has a fascinating plot that kept me wanting to read more. The novel focuses on the House of Batiatus, which boasts the champion of Capua – Spartacus. There is a newcomer in town, Hieronymus, who is attempting to set up his own ludus in competition with the Houses of Batiatus and Solonius.
Both Batiatus and Solonius vie for the newcomer’s attention, as his patriarch is a wealthy and powerful statesman from Rome. Solonius is able to obtain an advantage over Batiatus by hosting the first games with Heironymus. It becomes apparent during the fights that something is wrong with Solonius’ gladiators since they are lethargic and appear to have never trained a day in their lives.
Unfortunately, this same lethargy creeps its way into the ludus of the House of Batiatus and even Spartacus feels the sickness that is ailing the gladiators. There is talk that the ailment is the work of sorcery and black magic. The question becomes as to whether or not the gladiators will overcome the sickness or die in the arena as a result of it.
Overall, I recommend this book. I was not sure what to expect since I was unfamiliar with Spartacus, but it was an entertaining read even without prior knowledge of the main characters.