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A sweeping science-fiction saga of revenge set in a future in which the Roman Empire never fell, by actress Claudia Christian When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to t A sweeping science-fiction saga of revenge set in a future in which the Roman Empire never fell, by actress Claudia Christian When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her—a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown--she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies. But Fortune's wheel grants Accala no favors—the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena-world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the men she set out to kill. Set in a future Rome that never fell, but instead expanded to become a galaxy-spanning empire, Accala's struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.


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A sweeping science-fiction saga of revenge set in a future in which the Roman Empire never fell, by actress Claudia Christian When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to t A sweeping science-fiction saga of revenge set in a future in which the Roman Empire never fell, by actress Claudia Christian When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her—a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown--she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies. But Fortune's wheel grants Accala no favors—the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena-world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the men she set out to kill. Set in a future Rome that never fell, but instead expanded to become a galaxy-spanning empire, Accala's struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.

30 review for Wolf's Empire: Gladiator

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bookwraiths

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator is a sweeping space opera in the tradition of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Set in a galaxy where the Roman Empire not only survived barbarian invasions but went on to conquer the world then the universe, the story faithfully portrays an evolved Roman civilization yet mixes in enough futuristic science fiction elements to create a perfect blend of history and high-tech; all of it setting the stage beautifully for the tale of one woman’s quest f Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator is a sweeping space opera in the tradition of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Set in a galaxy where the Roman Empire not only survived barbarian invasions but went on to conquer the world then the universe, the story faithfully portrays an evolved Roman civilization yet mixes in enough futuristic science fiction elements to create a perfect blend of history and high-tech; all of it setting the stage beautifully for the tale of one woman’s quest for vengeance. Readers follow along behind a young noblewoman named Accala Viridius, who sets out on a path of revenge after the murder of her mother and brother. Their deaths just more sacrifices in the scheming and deadly rivalries between the Roman royal houses. Once a galactic conflict sweeps aside any chance Accala has to obtain justice, she resorts to a life of the gladiator, where she dreams of exacting bloody retribution in the imperial games. Being a sucker for historical space operas like Dune, Wolf’s Empire was an enjoyable read for me, quick paced, horrific in parts, and nearly always exciting. The bickering royals, callous murder, and galactic war recalling all the good elements of Herbert’s classic sci-fi masterpiece without any of the tedious political monologues. Christian and Buchanan even avoiding the far too frequent “Chosen One” trope, instead opting for a more realistic, more modern heroine. Here Accala is a decidedly “normal” (for her society) person. She is flawed. Addiction issues plague her. She loves but can’t maintain relationships. Her loyalties are divided, pulling her in different directions. Her desire for revenge at any cost actually costing her. And she makes poor decision more than a few times. These lapses in judgment reinforcing that she is no divine prodigy, but a young woman doing her best in an ever-changing, nebulous situation filled with dire consequences at every turn. Surrounding our heroine, the authors have placed other complex characters. These men and women growing and evolving as circumstances dictate. Bad guys begin as horrible, vicious monsters only to be revealed as real people, who are more gray than they are black. Good guys might start off as shining beacons of light, but soon their own failings and suspect motives or desires drag them back down to the muck of the ordinary. All of this character development done organically, gifting Accala’ tale with a deep sense of realism not always encountered in space operas. All of these people play out their tragedies upon a stellar stage. The futuristic, high-tech Roman Empire a galactic edifice serving as an amazing backdrop to this tale. Especially impressive is the authenticity of Roman society, which still retains so many vestiges of its ancient self with a patriarchal slant, bisexual leanings and strict class stratification. The attention to detail clearly showing that Christian and Buchanan definitely did their research, determining to capture the essence of Rome before placing their own unique spin upon it. But I haven’t even mentioned the combat yet. Naturally, it is intertwined in everything going on here. Brutal and bloody, horrific and cringe worth at times. Just as it should be. I mean, any book touching upon Roman gladiators (even high-tech ones) has to get down into the gory muck of the arena, and Wolf’s Empire does so willingly and well. The only negative I had with the novel was my lack of deep attachment to Accala Viridius. For whatever reason, she and I never bonded. Yes, I understood her motives, felt her anger and pain, and even rooted for her triumph more than a few times. However, my empathy never turned into a true love like I have for other characters like Jon Snow of A Song of Ice and Fire or even Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars space trilogy. Overall, I felt Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator was a creative, exciting and bloody addition to the science fiction space opera genre, more than worthy for lover of that area to give a try. Hell, even lovers of alternate history works based on the Roman Empire might find this one interesting, because the authors did such a great job of capturing the feel of ancient Rome. As for me, I’m definitely glad I gave this a try and did enjoy my time with it, even if I wished the heroine and I had hit it off more. I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/11/07/... Imagine the Roman Empire in space, still busy conquering the stars and holding their brutal gladiatorial competitions to sate the bloodthirsty appetites of the public, even thousands of years into the far flung future. This is the scenario presented to us in Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan’s Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, a sci-fi space opera featuring a galaxy in which Ancient Rome never fell, instead remaining t 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/11/07/... Imagine the Roman Empire in space, still busy conquering the stars and holding their brutal gladiatorial competitions to sate the bloodthirsty appetites of the public, even thousands of years into the far flung future. This is the scenario presented to us in Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan’s Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, a sci-fi space opera featuring a galaxy in which Ancient Rome never fell, instead remaining the greatest superpower that ever existed. The book begins in the midst of a bitter rivalry between two noble families: House Viridian, represented by the proud Golden Wolf, and House Sertorian, bearer of the Ruby Hawk emblem. Across the galaxy, other royal houses has chosen sides, plunging the empire into utter chaos and war. In an attempt to halt the violence and prevent any more unnecessarily bloodshed, the Emperor has decreed that any future fighting will instead take place in the arena at the Imperial Games on the planet Olympus Decimus, where all scores will ultimately be settled. To the victor will go the spoils, while the losers will be forced to give up their status as a ruling house and be stripped of all their royal titles and properties. Wolf and Hawk will still have a chance to take each other down, but now their fighters’ attentions will be turned to honing their gladiatorial skills. Enter our protagonist Accala Viridius, who has sworn vengeance upon the Sertorian forces who murdered her mother and brother. As a young noblewoman, no one will heed her words, but as a common gladiator, she can take matters into her own hands. Defying her father’s wishes, Accala sacrifices her social status and privilege to compete in the Imperial Games, armed with her weapon-of-choice, a sharp-edged discus. With this amazing premise set to such a unique backdrop, I could hardly resist. The first couple acts of this novel were perhaps my favorite of all, for I enjoyed how quickly the story established a fully-formed picture of Accala, even in spite of her single-minded desire for vengeance. The authors quickly turned what could have been a vulnerability into a character strength, focusing on Accala’s anger when they developed her personality and began establishing her motivations around this central core. Flashbacks into the past were seamlessly worked into the narrative, portraying the protagonist’s grief at her mother and brother’s deaths, which in turn provided an explanation as to why she was so determined to train as a gladiator. Without venturing into spoiler territory, Accala’s obsession with revenge may also shed some light into her frame of mind as we go deeper into the story. At a certain point, our heroine finds out a shocking truth about her family and is subsequently presented with a horrible dilemma. Admittedly, I couldn’t bring myself to agree with a lot of the things she does in the later sections of this novel, but at least I can sympathize a little with what was driving her. Accala’s questionable decisions aside, there were a few other nagging little issues that started cropping up as I dove further into this story. For one thing, there’s a whole whopping lot of stuff happening around here, which normally wouldn’t be something I’d complain about. I’d wager though, there’s probably enough plot development in here to fill three books, but cramming it all in one volume only served to create meandering distractions and bring about reader fatigue. That’s what wore me down eventually, as whatever momentum was gained by the solid intro slowly began to drain away once we crossed the halfway point, after which the plot started to feel repetitive and too drawn out. Needless to say, I did not enjoy the second half of the book as much as the first, and I also didn’t read this section with as much speed and enthusiasm. That being said, the story’s quick pacing wasn’t actually that affected. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator boasts plenty of fight scenes, and in fact it doesn’t take long at all for things to turn into a massive bloodbath with heads and limbs flying off left and right. There are a lot of twists too, so don’t be surprised when certain pieces on the game board come back into play, even once you think they’ve been taken out of the equation. Nothing is over until the authors decide it is. I also enjoyed the world-building, even if some of its foundations are a little dubious. I for one am not entirely convinced that seven millennia later, certain customs and attitudes of the ancient Romans have remained static after all this time, such as the stifling patriarchy or the populace’s rabid lust for the gladiatorial blood sports. The Roman Empire in space is an interesting thought experiment more than anything though, and approaching it from a casual point of view, it can be a lot of fun to see how Christian and Buchanan handle the mashup of science fiction and antiquity. Final verdict: Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator was a fun romp through the galaxy with its intriguing heroine. The first half was definitely stronger than the second half, though I still think it was a great read with a highly unique and imaginative premise. Certain parts of it brought to mind the intrigues and betrayals of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising combined with the fast-paced action of the competitive games in Holly Jenning’s Arena. I would recommend Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator for fans of space operas and gritty, adventurous sci-fi sagas.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lynn Williams

    https://lynns-books.com/2016/08/07/wo... Wolf’s Empire is a space opera with, as strange as it may sound, the Roman Empire set at it’s heart. Imagine a world in which the Roman Empire continued to go from strength to strength dominating not only the known world but eventually branching out into space to eventually embrace an empire spanning the galaxy. This story imagines a Rome set 7,000 years in the future and yet still brings to us an empire with conflict at it’s core. The story is one of reve https://lynns-books.com/2016/08/07/wo... Wolf’s Empire is a space opera with, as strange as it may sound, the Roman Empire set at it’s heart. Imagine a world in which the Roman Empire continued to go from strength to strength dominating not only the known world but eventually branching out into space to eventually embrace an empire spanning the galaxy. This story imagines a Rome set 7,000 years in the future and yet still brings to us an empire with conflict at it’s core. The story is one of revenge and involves a young woman who goes to great length to avenge the deaths of her mother and brother and also to try and break free of the unwanted role placed upon her by society. Firstly, a little background. Accala Viridian is a noblewoman, from House Viridian, one of the seven houses that rule the Empire’s provinces, with the Emperor himself ruling supreme in the eighth house. House Viridian, are the bearers of the Golden Wolf insignia, they have for years embodied the virtues of honour and duty above all else, steeped in tradition their house is probably a little less progressive than some of the others. House Sertorian, bearer of the Ruby Hawk insignia focus more on ambition and seem to embody the notion of ‘winning no matter what the cost’ – to them, honour is an antiquated value that has no place in their ruthless world. Their desire for greater power and recognition for their house has led to war with House Viridian – a war that not only seems to have cost the lives of Accala’s mother and brother but also seems to be one that House Viridian are not faring too well in. The Emperor, in a bid to stamp out the war, decided to stage an Imperial Games based on the planet Olympus Decimus. The winner of the games will rule supreme, the losers will no longer be one of the ruling houses and will be stripped of all their titles and assets – so a lot is resting on the outcome. Added to this – the local population on Olympus Decimus are staging their own protest against Roman rule and everything is about to come crashing together in a most spectacular, sometimes mind boggling, incredibly entertaining, blood thirsty and horror soaked way imaginable – well, as much as you would expect from gladiators! I think the authors have managed to combine the ancient and the new in a remarkable way. The story has a very large scope and yet doesn’t feel cumbersome or overburdened with backstory or history – these aspects just flow naturally as the story progresses. We have a central character who is far from perfect and not above making wrong decisions that will just make you want to yell at her occasionally. There are some epic fight sequences and gladiator scenes that are brought to life so vividly and that, whilst they will seem familiar, have been updated to include technology and drug enhanced fighting skills. Accala is a character who develops continually as the story advances as do quite a number of the other characters. She begins the piece with vengeance firmly in mind and really you have to remember this as you read along because this really is her sole motivation and leads her to at times make some disastrous decisions. Of course, Accala never really knows who are the good guys and who are the bad guys – they seem fairly obvious at the outset but nothing is ever quite as clear cut as it first seems and certainly a lot of the characters here have their own motivations that drive them on which makes it difficult to know who is helping and who is hindering. Accala’s dreams of gaining revenge seem at first to be continually thwarted. Her own father seeks to marry her off before she can cause him any embarrassment and even though she succeeds in gaining a place on the gladiator team the Emperor decrees that she return home and honour her father’s wishes. Then an unexpected alliance offers her the chance to become a gladiator and fight in the arena. And this is when her world is really turned on it’s head. We have a number of chapters where Accala trains with her new team members as they travel through space on route to the games – I particularly enjoyed these chapters. We see Accala brought low by an addiction that really takes a grip on her – but I won’t go further because their lies the path of spoilers. Upon reaching their destination the tension doesn’t relent at all with some furious fight scenes upon the gladiator field which are then followed by a change in tack as we delve into the core of the planet. In terms of criticisms – well, at first I wondered how well the Roman theme would work being expanded into such a modern world and I must say that I had a few moments where I initially thought – surely a civilisation which has moved on 7,000 years would have developed a little more in terms of seeking such bloodthirsty entertainment and surely they would have developed a little more in terms of equality amongst the sexes, but, that being said, I think the authors were, as mentioned above combining the ancient aspects with the new – it’s a difficult combination to balance but I think they did a very good job. The only other criticism I had was that towards the last 25% there was undoubtedly a lot of action but some of it became a little repetitive – not in that they were the same fight scenes but more the set up and outcomes. Apart from a few little niggles I found this a very enjoyable read. I received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tudor Ciocarlie

    This was a very good book, full of grit, with a very powerful central character and an interesting universe. It was great fun to read about Romans in space, but why would a 7000 years old Roman Empire still have gladii and legions? The Chinese Empire never fell and there are little resemblances between China today and Chinese Empire as it was 2000 years ago. As I've said about Stephen Baxter's Ultima, a great science-fiction book about Roman Empire needs to think more how the Empire would have e This was a very good book, full of grit, with a very powerful central character and an interesting universe. It was great fun to read about Romans in space, but why would a 7000 years old Roman Empire still have gladii and legions? The Chinese Empire never fell and there are little resemblances between China today and Chinese Empire as it was 2000 years ago. As I've said about Stephen Baxter's Ultima, a great science-fiction book about Roman Empire needs to think more how the Empire would have evolved and not simply "teleport" ancient Romans into far future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    N.A. Brun

    These are the signs that let me know I’m reading a good book: I wonder what the characters are up to when I’m doing stuff other than reading (i.e. the day job or cooking dinner). I dream about the characters. Taking time away from the book is heart-wrenching and guilt enducing. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan hits all three of these points easily and adds a few more to the list. A couple of pages into this futuristic and yet historic tale, and the reader finds These are the signs that let me know I’m reading a good book: I wonder what the characters are up to when I’m doing stuff other than reading (i.e. the day job or cooking dinner). I dream about the characters. Taking time away from the book is heart-wrenching and guilt enducing. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator, by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan hits all three of these points easily and adds a few more to the list. A couple of pages into this futuristic and yet historic tale, and the reader finds themselves wrapped into an engrossing world, unable to put it down. If you think you’d be unable to picture a universe in which the Roman Empire never fell and sentient and otherwise aliens are under human rule, then you will find yourself pleasantly surprised. The attention to detail held within the pages of this book gives you a vivid depiction of life inside a world where tradition stays inside an evolving culture. The seamless blend of ancient history and futuristic technology create a truly original science fiction genre piece. The universe in which the central character Accala, lives is very much a world in which everyone knows their place. The class structure and indeed, the patriarchy, are very much a part of every day life. If you’re a regular reader of my blog and the reviews on here, you’d think that the patriarchal mindset of this far flung future Roman Empire would anger me and stop me from reading. But very early on, that anger pushed me to keep reading and ‘fighting’ at Accala’s side, just as she fights for her own kind of justice. The action scenes are intense. Pushing you right into the action alongside the characters. The first of Accala’s fights saw me holding my breath until it was over. The urgency and the injuries were brought to life provocatively, sparing the reader any chance of being aware of the fourth wall. This book does not pull its punches. There are moments where I literally swore out loud, some where I cheered with pure relief, and others still where I found myself wanting to hide behind the covers as the action played out. But unlike with a movie or television show, that’s just not possible when reading a book. You have to keep going if you want to know what happens next. Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator is graphic and beautiful, harrowing with moments of true insight. Our protagonist is so beautifully flawed that you can’t help but feel drawn to her. The themes of family loyalty, loyalty to self, and loyalty to something bigger, intertwine to create a tableau of inner conflict that is recognisable to all of us. Without wanting to spoil people, there is another thread that weaves itself through the story, pulling on something that fans of Christian and her work will understand and recognise. A good writer draws on their own experience, a fantastic writer will not only draw on that experience but turn it into something more powerful. Christian, together with Buchanan has achieved just that, with language so vivid that the reader has no choice but to feel what Accala is feeling, to see the story with her eyes. If a book leaves you uncomfortable and yet still wanting more, then it’s doing its job. Just look at George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series if you want an example. Christian and Buchanan have created a book that not only creates that same feeling but encourages you to look at the world around you, how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. Just as all good Sci-Fi should. About halfway through this novel, I knew in my heart that the full story couldn’t be contained within just one book, and the way it ends leaves me in no doubt that this is a series that will keep enduring. (Taken from my blog post here: https://scribblenubbin.wordpress.com/...)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica De vries

    For me, a sign of a good book is being able to envision what I read, as I read it. I can see the story unfolding and can relate to many of the characters. There's no black and white, good or bad but everyone has a story and a reason for their motivations. The pace of the book ensured that I wanted to keep reading, alongside the depth of the characters. Even when I had to put the book down (mostly because I need sleep sometimes), I found it hard to stop thinking about the characters and what they For me, a sign of a good book is being able to envision what I read, as I read it. I can see the story unfolding and can relate to many of the characters. There's no black and white, good or bad but everyone has a story and a reason for their motivations. The pace of the book ensured that I wanted to keep reading, alongside the depth of the characters. Even when I had to put the book down (mostly because I need sleep sometimes), I found it hard to stop thinking about the characters and what they would do next. Accala, the central character, is a heroine I think many people can relate to, her struggles with family, loyalty, loss, love and emotions is believably human. The way her addiction is worked into the story is evocative and helps to remind us that everyone has flaws, no one is perfect. The way each character shows strength when dealing with pain (physical and emotional), the lessons and philosophies learned, the weaknesses displayed by those who are meant to be strong, and the nods to current politics and issues, all create a story in which the reader is fully immersed. Some parts of the book I ended up yelling at Accala "no you're going to regret that" because as a reader I could see the fuller picture when she wasn't sure how to feel or act, or which path to take. That gives her such a human quality and truly makes you relate to her and root for her. The emotions that are stirred within the book are necessary and refreshing. As an audience we cry for Accala at points, but sometimes we get so angry at her that we want to scream. The other characters provoke similar responses, although, sometimes in reverse. There were moments I truly felt sorry for the antagonists, and found myself wondering how I could feel pity for such despicable people. With each of the central characters, but particularly Accala, there is a sense of resilience. Each time she is beaten down, each time she is close to breaking, Accala gets back up again and pushes through. With support from others, she's able to go further than she (or we) think she's capable. I love the way in which Roman and Greek mythology are threaded through the story. It's obvious that a lot of research went into it,and Wolf's Empire has it's own take on historical (and potentially future) belief systems. The book provides inspiration when it comes to the life we live in the world we're in today. It causes us to question what we see happening around us and reminds us of the nature of our species. We are one drop within an ocean, individually, but together those collective drops can make a difference. The sense of suspense and mystery within the book keeps the reader hanging on to every word. There's no obvious reveal in any part, as you are never quite sure of anyone's motives, except Accala's. Are people looking to help her, or are they just leading her along their own merry path? The science fiction element of the book blends seamlessly with the historical aspect. The creatures we encounter on Olympus Decimus, the serving classes, and the barbarian races are a treat for theimagination, vivid in description and clearly evoking images of something other than human. The fight scenes left me glued to the book, my reading pace increasing to match them in tempo. I was left with goosebumps when reading certain passages. As we wait for the second instalment of this series, I find myself wondering how each of the characters are doing, what we will see happening next, and reflecting on the parts of myself I saw in each of them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    I was sent an advance copy of this by Claudia. I will admit I was at first a little dubious about the idea of a Space Rome setting, but it worked so well. When I started reading, it just felt so Roman that, when the technology aspects came in, I found myself jumping a little, as they reminded me that this wasn’t actually historical Rome but the far future. There was a big beautiful galactic tapestry as the backdrop, on the same scale as Dune: quarrelling houses, politics, murder, and war. But th I was sent an advance copy of this by Claudia. I will admit I was at first a little dubious about the idea of a Space Rome setting, but it worked so well. When I started reading, it just felt so Roman that, when the technology aspects came in, I found myself jumping a little, as they reminded me that this wasn’t actually historical Rome but the far future. There was a big beautiful galactic tapestry as the backdrop, on the same scale as Dune: quarrelling houses, politics, murder, and war. But there was a very important difference, in that the main protagonist wasn’t another male Chosen One, but a young woman who’d taken it upon herself to avenge her family and fight for what she believed in. The story of Accala is one of vengeance taken to extremes. There are some very, very dark passages. Beyond the galactic politics there are very personal struggles with addiction, both physical and mental, and the toll addiction can have on relationships and on yourself. It’s the kind of topic that doesn’t get tackled much in science fiction but is used very powerfully in this, both in terms of story and character. I really appreciated that, unlike Game of Thrones and other similar works, the book manages to be dark without resorting to rape to show the trials of the heroine. The gender politics is handled beautifully. The world that has been created is sexist to the extreme, but at no point do the leading female characters accept it. They are always challenging societal ideals, and showing the falseness of the misogynistic beliefs. I used to think that if you were creating a science fiction setting it was better to create an egalitarian one. But while this world was sexist, I would still consider it a feminist book because it challenged the sexism within the society, and did so with a lot of physical and emotional strength. The plot has so many twists and turns and never ends up going where you expect. You just need to hold on and enjoy the ride. There is a lot of action in this book, but it is backed up with very strong character development and plot points so nothing comes across as gratuitous. Despite the epic scale of the setting, the characters are very human. There is a lot of growth and development, not just of the protagonists but the antagonists as well, not to mention that the bad guys aren’t always the bad guys. Likewise the good guys aren’t always the good guys. The further into the book you read the more complex everything becomes. One last thing is to say is how much I appreciated that the characters were mostly bisexual and open about their sexuality and relationships. While I kept hoping that Julia and Accala would get back together, I loved that there was a physical part to their friendship. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, fans of Babylon 5 (obviously), but also fans of other science fiction epics like Dune or the Hunger Games, as well as to fans of classical Roman literature. This book just has everything: an intriguing setting, wonderful characters, and a plot that doesn’t let up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nerys (Bianca)

    Personally, I really liked the book. It was hard for me to put it down and found myself taking it everywhere I went just to continue reading (that also means standing in the check out line at the grocery store waiting for my turn). It is very well written, full of surprises and you can dive into the story and be a part of it. Can't wait for the next book to come out.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul Byrne

    I won this in a GoodReads Giveaway and to be honest was not expecting much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Christian and Buchannan do a wonderful job of making you feel an entire galactic empire through the eyes of their characters. Not since "Dune" have I read a book that filled me with a galaxy-spanning empire that only takes place on two worlds. In "Wolf's Empire: Gladiator" our heroine, Accala, is only ever on two worlds and one starship. But in these three locations, the authors lay a I won this in a GoodReads Giveaway and to be honest was not expecting much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Christian and Buchannan do a wonderful job of making you feel an entire galactic empire through the eyes of their characters. Not since "Dune" have I read a book that filled me with a galaxy-spanning empire that only takes place on two worlds. In "Wolf's Empire: Gladiator" our heroine, Accala, is only ever on two worlds and one starship. But in these three locations, the authors lay a foundation so thick and easily believed that I fell in love with it. The mixing of old world legends and ideas with cutting edge technologies and Sci-Fi flowed as easily as the original Dune.I was filled with nostalgia for the first time I read that book, and saw how incredible another world could be in a book. Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchannan have created a cast of characters and a world (universe) that is every bit as enthralling as the one in Dune.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Very heavy in the first few chapters while it sets up a huge universe and history. Very heavy for after with lots of wordiness. Despite the triple barrell names, it is easy enough to keep track of who's who. Not what you would call a light read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    An interesting interpretation of an alternate futuristic Rome. The interpretation of the Roman gladiatorial games was interesting as well. I look forward to the next book in the series if there is one

  12. 4 out of 5

    Draugnar

    A little slow at first, but once the story starts rolling, the characters flesh out and the backstory starts to fill in so that we get both action and political intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the second one in the series. Come on Claudia! Hurry up and write!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roy Jo

    Wow! What an adventure! Deliciously Roman. It was like watching Spartacus again ^_^ just with a boatload more of Fantasy and epicness. Thank you Claudia and Grant, your rocked it

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elliott

    Sometimes you swish the first few chapters of a book about your mouth and spit it out with revulsion. But sometimes a poor rating is just two parallel paths- running next to each other but never touching. Reading Wolf’s Empire I turned the pages, and the book’s story carried onward but it was as impersonal to me as viewing fish in an aquarium. I particularly think that the choice of first person narrative was ineffective since in telling the story it’s all done in past tense and so any suspense Sometimes you swish the first few chapters of a book about your mouth and spit it out with revulsion. But sometimes a poor rating is just two parallel paths- running next to each other but never touching. Reading Wolf’s Empire I turned the pages, and the book’s story carried onward but it was as impersonal to me as viewing fish in an aquarium. I particularly think that the choice of first person narrative was ineffective since in telling the story it’s all done in past tense and so any suspense of whether Accala is actually in any real danger is lost. An additional detriment is that in terms of world building Accala periodically has to break the fourth wall to explain the chronological backstory which takes away realism and feels kind of lazy. Finally, elements of the plot were incredibly unrealistic to me. Accala is swearing a vendetta against the House which killed her mother and brother, so thankfully a bunch of them also happen to be gladiators and not only that but the Emperor himself has decreed that this entire House can be exiled entirely provided the members of them who happen to be gladiators are defeated. It became in short the needs of the plot providing the plot similar to your average Brady Bunch episode where every conflict just so happened to be a conflict that could be resolved by a family singing contest. While I acknowledge that on one level this kind of plot “works” to the extent that stuff happens and gets resolved I also freely acknowledge that all of this is not my kind of plot.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    The setting was fun, and the overall plot was enjoyable, but it felt like it needed an editor badly. I understand the challenge of setting up an alternate history space opera is going to lead towards infodumps, but it did that too often and in too much detail. Similarly, while the action was fun, often times it was just a bit overdescribed, or the motivations and feelings of characters were made redundantly clear. Enjoyable, but it felt like it could have been 2/3s as long and been a better expe The setting was fun, and the overall plot was enjoyable, but it felt like it needed an editor badly. I understand the challenge of setting up an alternate history space opera is going to lead towards infodumps, but it did that too often and in too much detail. Similarly, while the action was fun, often times it was just a bit overdescribed, or the motivations and feelings of characters were made redundantly clear. Enjoyable, but it felt like it could have been 2/3s as long and been a better experience. On the plus side, I got this as an audiobook, and Claudia Christian did a very good job voicing it. There were a few areas, especially early, where it felt like they had to re-record certain lines, so the tone of voice would jump around at random, in appropriate to the scene, but overall it was a good experience. It was, however, 25 hours long. Being an audiobook, I couldn't skim over the redundant parts, so it's possible that made them stand out more.

  16. 4 out of 5

    IJdo Dijkstra

    Barely a three star rating. I had to force myself to finish this book. Can't help but feel this setting could have been so much more. Not sure if I will buy the sequel. I really liked the setting, an alternate history where the Roman Empire rules the Galaxy. Unfortunately, the characters never quite gelled with me. There seemed to be very little depth to them, very little on what makes them tick, other than what's convenient for the story. The storyline itself was too much of the same, without m Barely a three star rating. I had to force myself to finish this book. Can't help but feel this setting could have been so much more. Not sure if I will buy the sequel. I really liked the setting, an alternate history where the Roman Empire rules the Galaxy. Unfortunately, the characters never quite gelled with me. There seemed to be very little depth to them, very little on what makes them tick, other than what's convenient for the story. The storyline itself was too much of the same, without much development. I felt the writing itself was okay, but the use of exclamation marks when describing a scene is a pet peeve for me, and really annoys me. Unfortunaly, this happened a few times when reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Blair Hodgkinson

    This adventure, set in an alternate universe where Rome's empire not only never fell but launched its influence to prominence over much of the galaxy, is entertaining and action-packed. It presents interesting and likeable protagonists, despicable antagonists and a fascinating universe. It is long on backstory and world-building and runs a little long, but if you stay with it, it has a rewarding conclusion. Repetition, exposition and backstory hurt the pacing and I have withheld a star on the gr This adventure, set in an alternate universe where Rome's empire not only never fell but launched its influence to prominence over much of the galaxy, is entertaining and action-packed. It presents interesting and likeable protagonists, despicable antagonists and a fascinating universe. It is long on backstory and world-building and runs a little long, but if you stay with it, it has a rewarding conclusion. Repetition, exposition and backstory hurt the pacing and I have withheld a star on the grounds that the writing is a bit bloated. Nevertheless, this is a world I'd be interested in revisiting and I shall certainly consider reading further installments.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ted Wenskus

    A big Roman SF epic if there ever was one. Grand in scope and jam-packed with action (and not a small amount of bloodshed, so be warned -- I mean, this *is* an extrapolation of the Roman Empire), it clips along at a great pace from start to finish. Do yourself a favor, though, and listen to the audiobook version that Claudia Christian herself narrates -- an excellent performance through and through with dozens of characters for her to voice. Definitely worth your Audible credit!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Pitkin

    I am sorry I really wanted to like this book but I really could not get into it and I really tried. But for me it got to confusing for me. To much politics and focus on everything else and it just seemed that it was focused a lot more on the setting the characters.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andreas van Rooyen

    The idea behind the book is great, but I just don't like the main characters, which made it hard to finish the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cody Black

    There were certainly some creative ideas in the book. However, I felt that the characters and settings were not fully fleshed out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    I found Wolf's Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan to be: Long An Interesting Concept A better ending than a beginning When I was first contacted by the publisher to read and review a copy of Wolf's Empire: Gladiator, I was beyond excited. Ancient Rome in space, I mean how awesome does that sound? UNFORTUNATELY, THIS BOOK TOOK A BIT TO GET INTO IT, AND SEVERAL HUNDRED PAGES BEFORE I REALLY GOT INTO IT. From the start, I loved the way the ancient culture was woven into I found Wolf's Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan to be: Long An Interesting Concept A better ending than a beginning When I was first contacted by the publisher to read and review a copy of Wolf's Empire: Gladiator, I was beyond excited. Ancient Rome in space, I mean how awesome does that sound? UNFORTUNATELY, THIS BOOK TOOK A BIT TO GET INTO IT, AND SEVERAL HUNDRED PAGES BEFORE I REALLY GOT INTO IT. From the start, I loved the way the ancient culture was woven into the futuristic world. I had no problem imagining ancient looking gladiators jumping on spaceships and talking with aliens. It's just what they did. That is one of the greatest strengths this book has to offer. I have no more than a passing knowledge of Ancient Rome, but from what I do remember, the names and details in this book felt authentic. So I knew a female gladiator in a male dominated would was going to cause problems. And I was right. But instead of immediately following her to the arena to confront the guys holding her back, we kept jumping in time to get her backstory. The constant shift between the action I wanted to happen and being told why she was on the path she was on was jarring. IT WAS NOT UNTIL WE LEFT THE PLANET THAT I STARTED TO GET INTO THE STORY. This book messes with your head a lot. Accala was stuck in enemy space, with supposed allies, and obvious enemies. There was danger all around her. Things weren't strictly how she thought they were, hell, things weren't entirely what I thought they were and I could see the overall picture clearer than Accala could. This heightened level of intrigue was what kept me from wishing the book was over already and actually got me into the story line. ACCALA WAS AN INTERESTING LEAD CHARACTER. Overall I liked her character. Not only was she a strong fighter, she was a strong person. She was willing, although a bit hesitant, to put herself into situations for her family and her House that I'm not sure I would have the drive emulate. She was by far the greatest character in this book. But I loved how even the secondary characters and minor main characters were pretty fleshed out. And the bad guys in this book? Pretty scary and may I never meet them in real life is all I can say about them. THE ENDING OF WOLF'S EMPIRE: GLADIATOR WAS WHAT I WANTED THE BEGINNING TO BE. It was fast paced, high stakes, and full of turns I was not expecting the book to take. I really thought this book was a standalone at first, but that ending has me thinking otherwise. Things happened in this book that I'm still not over. OVERALL Overall, Wolf's Empire: Gladiator was a very entertaining book. Once I got over the initial slow period of the book, I became more invested in the story. I am very curious as to if there are going to be more book, and if there are, where they are going to take us next. QUOTATIONS "Let them abuse you, let them visit every humiliation upon you, and all the while hide that you're burning away on the inside. Store it all away in your heart, hidden deep within your breast like a burning coal allowing ever indignity to stroke its heat until it is time to unleash the fire." (pg 85) "We all have masters. That's how life is. Freedom is an illusion." (pg 242) "Sometimes pain and suffering is the only path worth taking if it forges us into the person we are meant to be." (pg 402)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    4/10

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Carson

    This is a difficult review to write. I was *really* looking forward to this book. The book is well-written, action-packed, and includes some interesting concepts as well as a very intriguing alien race, the Hyperboreans. When I heard about the basic premise, I was super excited about it. What would 80th Century Rome look like? What might be the same, and what would be different? What trajectory would the society have followed? Well, it appears that they are virtually unchanged since about 100 A.D This is a difficult review to write. I was *really* looking forward to this book. The book is well-written, action-packed, and includes some interesting concepts as well as a very intriguing alien race, the Hyperboreans. When I heard about the basic premise, I was super excited about it. What would 80th Century Rome look like? What might be the same, and what would be different? What trajectory would the society have followed? Well, it appears that they are virtually unchanged since about 100 A.D. They have starships, advanced weaponry, and technology...but women are still treated as second-class citizens, all alien species in the Empire are slaves (along with a great many humans), and they still sacrifice bulls to read their entrails for auguries to the gods. This is not just Rome as it would be today, but Rome that's had 6,000 more years beyond today to evolve and incorporate aspects of other cultures. And it has done so without ever falling or having to suffer through a Dark Age. So, they've made no social progress or changes of any kind? None? Because of this, it feels like the book is unintentionally a deconstructionist look at the Roman Empire. Sitting here in 2017, we can be glad it fell when it did, and that the world is no longer subject to its yoke. I think this book would have been better served as either semi-historical fiction (like the movie Gladiator), or as a fantasy version of Rome with monsters instead of aliens. It was also very difficult to establish any pathos for the main protagonist. Too often she is self-defeating and just plain difficult to like. If she had been part of a larger ensemble cast, it would have been fine, but the book is told from the first-person POV, so you can't get away from her. Having said that, I will likely read the next book when it comes out. My hope is that the next installment leaves the gladiatorial games well behind and focuses on the political and military intrigue of the setting.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    The best thing I can say is that I didn't HATE this book. But I certainly didn't like it. The initial idea was interesting. The Roman Empire never fell and eventually created the Roman Galactic Empire. A girl from one of the noble families takes to the Gladiatorial Games to seek revenge for the deaths of her Mother and brother. Sadly I found the main character to be a spoiled, self-centered teenage princess who always refused to look beyond her here-and-now, listen to the advice and council of oth The best thing I can say is that I didn't HATE this book. But I certainly didn't like it. The initial idea was interesting. The Roman Empire never fell and eventually created the Roman Galactic Empire. A girl from one of the noble families takes to the Gladiatorial Games to seek revenge for the deaths of her Mother and brother. Sadly I found the main character to be a spoiled, self-centered teenage princess who always refused to look beyond her here-and-now, listen to the advice and council of others and just ended up doing what she wanted and thus getting herself embroiled in more than she could handle, end up addicted to drugs and causing more deaths to friends and family than she started out trying to avenge. The story itself seemed to drag for me. I kept wondering "is it almost over?" only to discover that I had HOURS left to go in the listening. I love Claudia Christian and am a huge fan. But I had a hard time separating her iconic role of Susan Ivanova from Accalla and comparing the two. I don't know if this was actually a case of where the reader was a detriment to the book instead of a help. Regardless, I do not see myself actively seeking out the sequel when it comes out.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

    I really have no idea how many stars would be appropriate, simply because I didn't finish it. Even though the world the story is set in, looks interesting and worth while spending one's time in, it however turned out that the story didn't go in a direction that I could find interesting or compelling, but rather that Accala continues to behave and think like a petulant, pubescent girl between 11 and 14. It was not so much that I disliked the story but I simply couldn't connect to her and I found i I really have no idea how many stars would be appropriate, simply because I didn't finish it. Even though the world the story is set in, looks interesting and worth while spending one's time in, it however turned out that the story didn't go in a direction that I could find interesting or compelling, but rather that Accala continues to behave and think like a petulant, pubescent girl between 11 and 14. It was not so much that I disliked the story but I simply couldn't connect to her and I found it simply boring. Finally so much so that I just stopped reading after something like 20%. There are so many better books out there that I didn't want spend (not to say waste) my time with that one. Unfortunately, the blurb or the shelves where others have sorted this one in didn't prepare me for what was coming and so the disappointment is larger than necessary, and had I known what was about to come, I probably wouldn't have started it in the first place. Btw. a better story (at least to my tastes) staged in a Roman Empire that hasn't collapsed is "Watching Trees Grow" by Peter F. Hamilton.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andreas van Rooyen

    The book is well written, the characters develop alot in the storyline. I honestly just didn't like how the story played out, I was expecting something else. The main Characters just didn't draw me into the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dan Dobler

    Absolutely Epic One of the most thought out, well written, complex novels I've read in years. The research, historical connections and actions based on both of those things make this novel unique in the extreme. What an amazing adventure. Hail Claudia!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Could have been better if it were 20% shorter- got repetitive and sort of belabored

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Petersen

    This book is a well thought out and exciting read couldn't put it down once I started to read it.

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