Red Phaedrus, a gladiator-slave of second century Britain, was a handsome, redheaded arena favorite who had become expert at crowd-pleasing entrances and exits. From the start to the finish of this book, the author maintains a steady thread of excitement spurred by imminent tragedy which allows the reader to forget the plot owes much to The Prisoner of Zenda. Phaedrus finds freedom is dull after winning his release in the gladiatorial slaughter of one of his best friends. His close resemblance to the Horse Lord of a small tribe results in his accepting the role of pretender to the throne that had been seized by a cruel queen. He grows into the responsibilities that go with the pretense and the master storyteller once again proves that she can write a better historical novel than anybody currently on the bestseller list at the adult level. The battle scenes are terrific, the love story tastefully handled and the sense of how-it-must-have-been is just as strong as it was in the The Shield Ring and Warrior Scarlet.