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In The Labyrinth Below The Arena


In The Deadliest Hate, Miriam searches for her brother, a gifted gladiator, in the vast network of cells, chambers, and tunnels below the arena:


I continued, pulled through the shadows, past cell after cell of the condemned stinking in their filth, crying out to their gods. And then, some salutary signs reached out to me: the odors of opium and astringents; of mossy herbs wrapped in linen; and of salves blended from ibis fat, honey, and lint.


My eyes first brushed the grime-stained walls of his cell and flitted to the single oil lamp suspended from the center of the ceiling. Its amber light fanned out over a cot draped in spotless linen and a squat table jammed with vials of herbs and trays of syringes. Finally, my eyes settled on the man lying there, naked but for the tattoos on his face, legs, and hands and the medallion around his neck.


Face up, leaning back, his arms raised and bent like wings, he cradled his head in his laced hands. His trainers, while keeping up their toadying blather, snaked over him, massaging his skin with unguents, applying poultices to the bruises blooming on his chest, stanching the flow of blood from the cuts on his face, and cleaning the gash in his belly that oozed a putrid cream.


Miriam sees the difference between the men condemned to the arena and those celebrities like her brother who fight for the glory of Rome. Aside from a prize-winning mystery that takes Miriam to Caesarea to trace the leak of an alchemical secret, you’ll get insight into the life of gladiators in The Deadliest Hate. To watch the one-minute video, click here.

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