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Head of Zeus
Circus Maximus: Race to the Death
Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray
 Circus Maximus, 1

Circus Maximus, the greatest sporting stage of the ancient Roman world, where the best horses and charioteers compete in a race to the death, and one girl dreams of glory. Ben Hur meets National Velvet in the ultimate 9-12 adventure story by debut children's author, Annelise Gray.

Twelve-year-old Dido dreams of becoming the first female charioteer at the great Circus Maximus. She's lost her heart to Porcellus, a wild, tempestuous horse she longs to train and race. But such ambitions are forbidden to girls and she must be content with helping her father Antonius – the trainer of Rome's most popular racing team, The Greens – and teaching the rules of racing to Justus, the handsome young nephew of the Greens' wealthy owner. When her father is brutally murdered, she is forced to seek refuge with an unlikely ally. But what of her dream of Circus triumphs and being reunited with the beloved horse she left behind in Rome? And the threat to her life isn't over as she faces a powerful and terrifying new enemy... the emperor Caligula.

Head of Zeus, a Zephyr book * Children’s Fiction
04 Mar 2021 * 368pp * £6.99 * 9781800240599
'This thrilling debut is the first in a new historical series full of dazzling action, rich detail, fabulous horses and an unforgettable heroine'
Fiona Noble, The Bookseller
'Circus Maximus swept me away to ancient Rome and I didn't want to come back. What a thrilling historical adventure!'
A.M Howell, author of The Garden of Lost Secrets
'This is an action-packed adventure that will take you on a ride ... There is fast-paced drama in each chapter, which keeps you gripped to the story. I love the historical element which feels authentic'
The Teacher Bookworm
'Full of great characters – both horses and humans – and Dido is a terrific heroine ... Annelise Gray has written a story that is both historically convincing and heart-stoppingly exciting. I hope there are more to come'
Gillian Cross
'Lovers of history, horses and heart-stopping adventure will be gripped by this action-packed and fast-paced read which will sweep you off your feet, leave you breathless and wanting to know more of the history behind the fiction'
Armadillo Magazine
'Rich in period detail, with a few real historical characters – its principal invention the idea that a woman might have been a charioteer – this is an involving, well characterised tale that feels original'
Sunday Times
'A gripping novel set in ancient Rome, centred on the world of chariot racing ... The story wears the historical detail lightly but very convincingly. 8+ but really just as exciting for teens'
Five Books
Annelise Gray
Annelise Gray
Annelise Gray was born in Bermuda and moved to the UK as a child. She grew up riding horses and dreaming of becoming a writer. After gaining a PhD in Classics from Cambridge, she worked as a researcher for authors and TV companies on topics as varied as Helen of Troy, Russian princesses and the history of labradors. She's previously published a history of the women of the Roman Empire and a crime novel set in the Roman Republic. Annelise's debut children's novel, Circus Maximus: Race to the Death, was published by Zephyr in 2021 and Rivals on the Track in 2022. Annelise lives with her husband in Dorset where she teaches Latin. Twitter: @AnneliseGray