Dark Arena

Defenders 2 : Dark Arena

ISBN 9781781127308

The past is closer than Nadiya and Seth think …

It’s meant to be a stress-free holiday in London, but suddenly Seth and Nadiya will need all their skills.  Seth is haunted by visions of Roman soldiers and ghosts of iron age British slaves when a Premier League club decide to build a new stadium on London’s Roman ruins.   One worker has already met a grisly death – and many other lives are in danger. The horror of modern injustice seems to have woken the spirits of the past … What can the Defenders do to change things?

Read Chapter 1 here

Published by Barrington Stoke

Signed and dedicated copies are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here.

Buy now from your local library, independent bookshops, Amazon and Kindle.

Great way into : KS2 Roman Britain

Defenders is a new trilogy:
Book 1 –  Killing Ground
Book 2  – Dark Arena
Book 3  – Pitch Invasion

“Tom Palmer’s new series combines football with history in a gripping, fast-paced and action-packed story that’ll have your children wanting to know more with every turn of the page. One that may be enjoyed more by slightly older readers (10+) due to the introduction of more detail, adventure and subject-specific vocabulary, this is a series not to be missed.” https://www.theschoolrun.com/best-childrens-books-about-ancient-rome


Seth and Nadiya specialise in solving ghostly hauntings at football venues, with settings including:

  • Anglo-Saxon village, Yorkshire
  • Roman Amphitheatre, City of London
  • Iron Age Celtic hill fort, Cornwall


defenders-pitch-invasionAnd each book ties into a KS2 history theme:

  • Vikings and Anglo-Saxons
  • Roman Britain
  • Iron Age Celts





Roman Britain history quiz based on Defenders: Dark Arena here



Writing Dark Arena

Tom “The book I am writing this month is about two children from today who have an encounter with Roman London. I was reading about Spurs’ new stadium, which is being built in north London. Looking at the construction images made me think the building site looked just like an archaeological dig at an ancient Roman stadium. An amphitheatre.

That was when I had the thought: What if I could blend the two? What if I wrote a story about how the excavations for the foundations of a twenty-first century football stadium unearth a first- or second-century amphitheatre? Here, in London.

That was something I needed to research properly. So I decided to do what schools do: go on a trip. 

I needed to visit the Roman amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall in London. We can only view part of the amphitheatre now, as most of it is underground. But what we can see, the interpretation panels and the book about the site were really useful in helping me plan Dark Arena. What was it for? Who built it? How was it built?

A Roman Amphitheatre is a stadium that was used for gladiators fights and also where animals were released where they fought to the death. Not a nice place. But that was what people liked to watch in stadiums 2000 years ago.

I needed to know so much. I needed to understand better how Roman London worked. So, my next stop was the Museum of London, a fabulous place that traces the history of the city (and the UK) through artefacts found and reconstructions of how life would have been.

I found out that slaves were the most likely people to have done the hard work of building London’s amphitheatre. So that’s where Dark Arena begins. The ghosts of the slaves killed while building the ancient stadium haunt the building of the new stadium in London.

These days we like to watch sport like athletics, football and rugby. That is what my story is about. A modern stadium and an ancient amphitheatre. It’s going to be called Dark Arena and the action includes settings of a modern football stadium and the amphitheatre ruins that I mentioned above.

I hope the mix of modern spectator sports with the ancient works as a story that will appeal to children.

This is a short video I made during my visit, so you can see what is there: https://youtu.be/3YzGrQyBYyk There’s nothing like going a place to see what it was like. To take in whatever your senses have thrown at them. Also, to try to think what your characters were thinking.”


Video 1 – Researching  Dark Arena

Buy the Book

Signed and dedicated copies are available personalised to order from my local independent children’s bookshop “The Thoughtful Spot” here.

Buy Dark Arena now from your local library, independent bookshops, Amazon and Kindle.



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