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The Far Arena

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  193 ratings  ·  38 reviews
The Far Arena is a novel by Richard Sapir, writing as Richard Ben Sapir. It chronicles the adventures of Eugeni, a Roman gladiator from Domitian's period, who, due to an unlikely series of events, is frozen in ice for 1900 years before being found by the Houghton Oil Company on a prospecting mission in the N. Atlantic.
Lew McCardle is a geologist working for Houghton. Whil
Mass Market Paperback, 508 pages
Published December 1979 by Dell Publishing Co Inc. (first published January 1st 1978)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 361)
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Sep 10, 2012 Marilyn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
I just bought a used copy of this long out-of-print book.

I first read it when it was originally released in 1978. I was working at Doubleday as a book club editor. It fell to me to do the write-up for it in the monthly publication that went to book club members.

A large part of my job was to read books. Talk about great jobs, that was the best of the best. I'm not sure I ever recovered from my Doubleday years. Not merely was I paid to read and write about books, but I received (as did all the e
One of the best sci-fi/fantasy adventure novels that would make a great movie, especially after the success of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, but sadly (to the date I write this) The Far Arena has never been picked up for film.
An intriguing story about a Gladiator – the greatest in his time – exiled after defying the Emperor, enraging the mob and offending the gods of Rome. Cast naked over the ice with a sword and shield to fight the cold, he expects nothing but death. Instead, he is awakened centur
After reading this one, I'll stay away from Roman historical fantasy. This one was so-so, despite several interesting episodes.
A nude man is found encased in ice by an American oil man/geologist. A Russian doctor thaws out the man, who turns out to be from ancient Rome at the time of Emperor Domitian. The doctor replaces his poisoned blood with fresh blood, and a nun translates his classical Latin for the two men. The part where the Roman, Eugeni, remembers his life in Rome as gladiator, freedma
Sue Bursztynski
I found this book on a remainders table many years ago and loved it. It's beautiful and touching, but has touches of humour as well, such as the hero needing his fix of garum (the Roman answer to Vegemite, in that the Romans simply had to have it, just as Aussies carry their own Vegemite supplies overseas) and making up a disgusting mixture of ingredients on the table, which he eats with great enjoyment. And the scene where he shocks the poor nun who is his interpreter by letting her know that h ...more
Stephen Sealey
After reading this novel, I am actually quite shocked that this work is not more commonly known and revered. In fact, it is rather unknown. But it is well worth the time it takes to search for. This book crosses genre lines between historical fiction and science fiction. A remarkable "what-if" situation, resulting in a wonderful read that inspired my imagination and gave me reason to reflect upon the possibilities of a by-gone millennium. The story itself is somewhat far fetched, involving a hum ...more
The story of the gladiator and the nun who could speak Latin. I read this one as a teenager, I believe, and can still recall details in my 50s. Like the culture shock experienced by the Roman gladiator who wakes up in the modern world to find the grandeur of Rome lost - until he discovers the Catholic church. I remember it as one of the first things I read that did a good job of creating a sense of culture-based world view and the non-trivial problem of adjusting to a world one didn't grow up in ...more
Oh I really liked this slightly hokey 70's tale of a defrosted roman gladiator coming to terms with 1970's Civilization. It is sadly long out of print - I got my copy second hand after reading a recommendation in a Guardian comment but its worth making the effort.
Its an idea that I've always liked; what would someone from the far past make of the current world and conversely how many dodgy modern assumptions about the past would they upset? In this tale the defrosted gladiator is assisted by a n
Skylar Burris
The Far Arena was fascinating because of its historical richness and exploration of the ancient Roman culture. It gives the reader a first hand view of the games and the horrors they entailed. Ben Sapir shows the reader how easy it is to accept and cheer on something so vile. The character of Eugeni was raised and trained as a gladiator, and when he is brought into the modern day world, the problems of his transition are telling. There are some touching moments in this novel, but most of its int ...more
Mia Tryst
I got this book at a bookmobile, and I was so excited to read it. I read it when I was something like 17 and I loved it so much it stayed with me. I just picked up another copy, reread it and it still has a lot of the magic I felt the first time I read it, but it did fall a little short of my expecations - mainly, the writing is less spectacular than I remembered. Anyway a brief review that I lifted off Amazon:

"The Far Arena" is, quite simply, a magnificent story, which places Richard Sapir amon
The Far Arena is a difficult book to classify. It has science fiction elements (man displaced in time), it has historical fiction elements (ancient Rome), it has science, it has corporate wheeling and dealing on an international scale, it has mystery and suspense, and that is all served up with a massive dose of culture shock. All of those elements just incidentally ride on a damn fine story.
Good book. Read it if you can find a copy.
Jeremy Kourvelas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bill FromPA
He’s slim and muscular, has black hair, stands five feet tall and is frozen. It’s not Tom Cruise, but Lucius Aurelius Eugenianus, the greatest Roman gladiator at the time of Emperor Domitian, who has somehow ended up naked and frozen under the Arctic icecap. His body is found by a geologist on an American oil surveying team, revived by a Soviet expert in cryogenics working in Norway and communicated with through a Norwegian Latin scholar turned Catholic nun.

Part historical novel set in first ce
I loved the idea of this book-- a Roman gladiator is frozen in ice, and by a medical quirk, he is able to be revived, reawakening in 1978. The book itself didn't work for me, though. I found the modern characters (a Texan geologist, Norwegian nun, and pervy Russian doctor) impossible to connect with, and Eugeni's characterization was a mess. Just because someone lived 2000 years ago does not make them simple-minded or unsophisticated; Roman society was just as complex as ours, even without light ...more
Erik Graff
Mar 04, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sapir fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
How nice--two of my favorite genres: a science fiction and historical novel--involving a Roman soldier no less!--combined. It wasn't bad. It wasn't that great either. I like to look for the inaccuracies in such things.
A really enjoyable book by the guy who wrote a lot of the Destroyer novels. This is a combination of historical and modern work that really creates an interesting gladiator character.
My uncle gave me a copy of The Far Arena knowing how much I usually enjoy science fiction and stories about ancient Rome. While his intentions were lovely, The Far Arena wasn't as enjoyable as I would have hoped.

The concept was intriguing, but the the reanimation of the gladiator was not quite believable. The ancient gladiator is not only revived after many thousands of years, but he's not even damaged in any way. Think Encino Man with more science and less Pauly Shore wackiness.

Beyond being ki
I always like reading something that turns out completely different than how it would turn out if it was a big-budget movie.

The setup is that a Roman gladiator is found frozen in arctic ice and successfully revived in the present day.

In the movie version, if it existed, they would turn it into a fish out of water story. First the ancient gladiator would clumsily absorb modern culture. Then he would be exploited by some corrupt force to continue being a gladiator. (I dunno, it's the future, and a
An American oil company drilling near Oslo finds a body in the ice. They give it to a Russian doctor who's been experimenting with cryogenics, and lo and behold! He manages to bring the human ice cube back to life. The mystery man remains in a semi-comatose state for days, muttering in a language that no one can identify until tapes are sent to a nun at a nearby convent. It's Latin! OMG THE GUY IS A ROMAN GLADIATOR REVIVED CENTURIES AFTER HIS DEATH!

As you can probably guess, the plot is the main
Connor Green
A fantastic journey through the eyes of a Roman gladiator trapped in the modern age. absolutely beautiful storytelling, symbolism, and imagery. the religious and cultural allegory and exposure is both eye opening and thought provoking, and also a great contemplative source on how cultural and societal norms change over time. the only complaint I have about this book is its ending, not the ending as a whole which was a great wrap up, but the very last sentence, and it did not feel like the ending ...more
Thomas Wictor
One of the best novels ever written. Just about flawless. It'll stay with you. A Roman gladiator is dug out of the ice and revived. The only person who can communicate with him is a young Norwegian nun who's suffering a crisis of faith. Heartbreaking on lots of levels, but also extremely uplifting.
This was a re-read of "The Far Arena" for me, with more than 30 years elapsed between my first and second readings of this book, originally published in 1978. As I recall, this was one of my "favorite" books of my childhood, a blending of historical- and science-fiction about the discovery of a first-century Roman gladiator perfectly frozen for nearly two millenia through an accident of history and science who is brought back to life in the 1970s. While somewhat dated, I thoroughly enjoyed re-vi ...more
Clare O'Beara
A gladiator condemned to death is given a herbal potion and wakes up in the twentieth century. The scientists who revived him try to ease him into life there - Exit is one word he can read - though they don't know how to pronounce Latin words for sure.

All does not go smoothly but the one place he feels at home is the arena at Pompeii. This gladiator was a master at entertaining the crowds and that comes before the plain brutality of sword fighting. This is a fascinating look at life of the Roman
John Kalasunas
I read this book the day the mayor of my city bombed a house and burned a whole neighborhood to the ground. Instead of watching the news, I stayed home and read. I could not stop till I was done. I have reread it a few times and enjoy the refining of my perception of the characters: the gladiator never loses control! Doing the right thing destroys one, getting what she wants nearly destroys another... If anyone can sell me a copy in paperback, let me know. I have lent mine out, not got it back, ...more
Lee Rene
I was so engrossed by this work that I read it in one day. Science fiction is not one of my favorite literary genres but I loved this one. A gladiator is frozen inside an ice drift for millennia. A group of scientists find his body, bring him back to life and he weaves his amazing story to a young nun who speaks Latin. Super book - would have made a fabulous movie. It's been out of print for years but worth a chasing down a used copy.
A thumping good read and one I reread every so often, also one that I snatch up used copies of and press on friends. I would love to see a serious move made of this. This is the kind of genre fiction that destroys any criticism of genre as lacking the heft of literary fiction. Add one small suspension of disbelief and the novel roars on its merry way.
This was a surprisingly thoughtful story, which I enjoyed very much. I had expected an adventure novel but it was a lot deeper and more considered, going into the differences between now and ancient Rome and drawing some conclusions about the hidden similarities. Something different that I would definitely recommend.
Melanie Barbarito
I'm glad to say that the reviews I've read on this reflect my own opinion: this is a terrific read, and it is too bad it is not more widely known. It's out of print, but worth owning and sharing. I read it probably 30 or more years ago and then reread it when my son was studying Latin. Would love to own a copy.
Travis Bird
This shows an empathy by the author for the real past as opposed to the fancifully imagined. The hook of the story, a gladiator preserved by accidental cryogenesis, is really only a platform for a fascinating and determinedly realistic historical novel.
Roger Carrier
An oil company digs up a Roman gladiator frozen in the ice of the North Sea. He is, of course, revived and finds himself in the 20th century. This novel is a fascinating lost gem. Highly recommended.
This science fiction story of an ancient Roman gladiator awakened in the late twentieth century by medical technology is a fascinating portrayal of character both ancient and modern.
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