She found her freedom by the SwordRussell Whitfield's Gladiatrix was an entertaining read with gripping, grisly arena battles between independent, athletic women. Using as his jumping off point an ancient stele from Halicarnassus depicting two gladiatrices with an inscription that indicates honorable retirement from the arena, Whitfield presents an enjoyable tale of love and hatred, slavery and freedom, culture clash among women of different backgrounds, and power struggles between men and women. Don't expect a scholarly tome – be prepared to be entertained. The fight scenes are gripping page-turners. There was a bit too much gore for my taste, but some will find this a plus. Like some of the other reviewers, I found the sex scenes to be much weaker writing than the fight scenes, to the point that some were almost painful to read. However, this did not diminish the entertainment value of the book for me.With regard to Whitfield's characters, our Spartan heroine Lysandra is extraordinarily sure of herself to the point of extreme arrogance. But in a fighter, I can't help but believe that that was part of her success – her unfailing confidence in herself and her training. And, would we call this arrogance or just confidence and assertiveness in a male character? It was a pleasure to read a tale from the point of view of a woman who did not doubt herself. Lysandra is not a weak, waffling, insecure woman! Some have criticized the flat nature of the secondary characters, but if we had too much more information on them, the book would change its focus and grow too lengthy to remain a light, swashbuckling romp. However, I would have loved it if Catuvolcos had had a larger and perhaps different role to play in the novel. He was my favorite character, and I wonder how the novel would read from his point of view rather than from that of Lysandra.If you want something deep and serious or something with well-written sexual encounters – or only heterosexual sex scenes, avoid this book. But if you're after page-turning matches between strong women in the arena, I recommend it.