The History Keepers: Circus Maximus

Written by Damian Dibben
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Rome, AD 27. In their second time-slip adventure, Jake and the History Keepers find themselves in Ancient Rome. The evil Agata Zeldt plans to dominate the world and only Jake and his friends can stop her. Jake has something to prove. Earlier, his impetuosity resulted in the vital consignment of atomium, the liquid which enables them to time travel, being stolen by Agata’s son, Leopardo. Jake must redeem his honour or be labelled forever a traitor.

Crunch time comes in the Circus Maximus, Rome’s gigantic stadium for chariot racing, capable of seating 150,000 spectators. We are overawed, just as Jake is, by the sheer scale and magnificence of the place; the skill of the chariot drivers and the danger of the race itself comes vividly alive. Agata Zeldt, supposedly acting on behalf of the reclusive Emperor Tiberius, plans to set off a bomb which will result in the death of thousands of people, including all the Senate, thus enabling her to rule the known world, change the course of history and plunge it into barbarism. With her is Leopardo, as cruel as she is herself. He will stop at nothing to win the chariot race. Can Jake get there in time to stop the massacre?

This is a terrific story whose pace never lets up. The action goes from the cold of Stockholm where the History Keepers go to collect the atomium, to France, to the Island of Vulcano in the 1820s, and, finally, to Ancient Rome.

There are some historical errors, for example, wheeled traffic was not allowed inside the city of Rome during daylight hours. And surely the time Jake and his friends take travelling from Herculaneum to Rome is positively 21st century in its speed!

Still, I’m sure that boys of 11 plus will be gripped by this nail-biting adventure.