Circus Maximus: Rivals on the Track by Annelise Gray
Dido is the only girl ever to have raced to victory at the Circus Maximus, Rome's greatest sporting arena. Now she and her beloved horse, Porcellus, are in hiding, and the Emperor Caligula has put a price on their heads.
Can she outwit the emperor and his bounty hunters? And will a shocking family secret stop her in her tracks, or spur her on to make a daring return, helped by a one-eyed mare with a heart as brave as her own?
Horses, history, mystery, thrilling entertainment and sensational storytelling race neck and neck through the second pulse-pounding adventure in Annelise Gray's 9+ series set in Ancient Rome.
I loved Annelise Gray's first book 'Circus Maximus: Race to the Death,' it was a thrill ride of an adventure that immersed me in ancient Rome and had me alongside Dido whilst she faced threats from evil characters like Emperor Caligula. It was brilliant. It was one of my books of the year. So, whenever I have had an experience like that I am always slightly nervous about reading the second book. Well I am pleased to say that I didn't need to be nervous. 'Rivals on the Track' is every bit as good as 'Race to the Death' and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This story finds Dido living in Utica with her uncle Scorpus (who those of you who have read the first book will be familiar with). Emperor Caligula is hunting for her although he doesn't know her true identity, he is also hunting for his favourite horse that she stole.
Bounty hunters have been seen in the area and familiar faces from Dido's past are coming uncomfortably close. If they discover her it could lead to the emperor finding her.
We also get introduced to some new characters in this book as we get to meet Barca, the older brother of Scorpus. Meeting him eventually leads to Dido going to Thugga where her mother's family live. It is here that the real adventure begins as a wealthy Roman-Gemellus Glabrio is building his own Circus Maximus in the town, in honour of the Emperor and is planning on having a competition of all the best racing teams in the area to open it.
Rivals on the Track has all the elements that made its predecessor such a good story. It has the element of threat, it has antagonists that are dangerous, it has the horses that you can't help falling in love with (wait till you meet Jewel!), and it immerses you in the past in such a vivid way you almost feel like you are there with the characters.
This is a fantastic book and it would be perfect for children that are aged 9 and above that love exciting adventure stories. It is steeped in history as well and so lovers of historical fiction and anyone interested in the Romans is also likely to love it.
The book is out on 3rd February 2022, here are some links for where you can order it: