Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Circus Maximus: Rivals on the Track by Annelise Gray

Publishing: February 2022

Circus Maximus: Rivals on the Track is the stunning sequel to Annelise’s Gray’s Roman adventure, Race to the Death. Set in Roman-controlled Northern Africa in AD 38, it paints a vivid picture of the power and passion of the world of horses and chariot racing.

After defeating the emperor’s team at the great Circus Maximus stadium in Rome, Dido has no choice but to flee and disguise herself as a boy. Insulted and humiliated, the emperor is furious. He wants her back in Rome and is willing to pay a reward to whoever can deliver.  

Chariot racing is a man’s world – one that she just might have to leave behind. Unable to be herself, Dido isn’t really sure who she is. But when Jewel, a beautiful one-eyed mare, comes into her life, the spark reignites. Does she dare to race again?

Rivals on the Track is a thundering adventure overflowing with danger and daring. In this unforgiving world, only the toughest survive. Dido must gather all of her strength and determination to fight for those she cares about and keep her identity a secret. As she discovers the truth about her family, there is even more to fight for. With old enemies are around every corner, this is going to be more difficult than she ever imagined.

Teachers often ask for book recommendations to accompany a history topic on the Romans. The Circus Maximus series has slotted into that gap for Upper Key Stage Two beautifully. The attention to detail in the setting descriptions and day-to-day life of the characters shows children just what it would have been like to live 2000 years ago. The reach of the emperor and influence of his rule is clear as everything revolves around his desires and plans. Dido is a feisty girl who won’t be stopped just because of her gender. Again and again, she proves that she is just as capable as the boys and nothing will stand in her way – a wonderful role model for all readers.

Thank you to Zephyr Books and Fritha Lindqvist for this exciting read!

Read an exclusive interview with Annelise Gray here.

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

Books by Kate Heap:

Contemporary Children’s Literature: Years 5/6

Contemporary Children’s Literature: Years 3/4

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4

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