The Charioteer of Delphi

Written by Caroline Lawrence
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley Rachel Beggs (age 12)

A.D. 80. In this twelfth Roman Mystery, Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus are in Rome for the races in honour of Jupiter at the Circus Maximus between Rome’s four horse-racing teams, the Greens, Reds, Blues and Whites. Then Sagitta, the Greens’ favourite horse, is kidnapped. The children investigate. They are helped by a new friend Scopas, who is a stable boy for the Greens. Back home in Delphi, Scorpas was a talented charioteer, and he’s desperate for the chance to race in Rome. The other stable boys dislike him and make his life a misery.

A friendly beggar helps them find Sagitta, but it’s suspiciously easy. Then he finds a curse against the Greens. As the races start, the dire predictions begin to come true. The first race goes catastrophically wrong and there is a fatal pile-up. Can the children find out who is sabotaging the Greens’ chances before more charioteers die?

The plot is complicated by Nubia forming a close bond with another horse, Pegasus. Pegasus, like herself, has had bad experiences in the past. Nubia wants to take him away from the dangerous world of chariot-racing to somewhere he can roam free. But would she really steal him from the Greens’ stables? Both Nubia and Pegasus must face their worse nightmares before their troubles are solved.

Caroline Lawrence is writing on top form. The story has pace and thrills and spills aplenty. It’s a roller-coaster of a read that grips one until the very last page. It is helped by the action being closely focused on the racing world. She shows us the daily routine of the Greens’ racing stable: how to look after a sick horse, how to ride a chariot, what tricks were used to throw a race and how the charioteers lived—and died.

Highly recommended for 8-12-year-olds.


This book is part of a series. It would help you to understand it more if you had read the others because it keeps going on about a fire which isn’t explained.

It got off to a slow start, for example, at the beginning they find a horse and then nothing happens for quite a while. There was no hook and it was hard to get into. However, by the middle I found it incredibly exciting and eventful because they discovered there was more to the mystery than they first thought. The ending was good but a little predictable. There were no descriptions of the main characters, perhaps they had appeared in the previous books, but the author described the new characters very well.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for girls and boys aged 11-14.