The plot moves along nicely. with a variety of danger that Marcus and Quintus must confront. The animals under the Colosseum, the wrath of Villius, and the apartment fire, and most of all, Quintus' turn in the arena, are all exciting without being too scary to younger readers.
Ancient Rome is not only part of most middle school social studies curricula, but it is also an era of history that greatly interests young readers. Messner has done a very good job of researching Roman culture, and has added good details of both gladiatorial fighting and daily life. The included bibliography lists a wide range of books for readers to continue their studies.
Danger in Ancient Rome will appeal to readers with many different interests. Children who have read all of the Magic Tree House books and are ready for a slightly more complex book will enjoy this series, as will readers who like books with historical settings or dogs. I can see this book sparking a lot of good summer play in the back yard while readers pretend to be gladiators. While there is a great glossary with different Roman and gladiatorial terms, there isn't the necessary warning-- while pretending to be a gladiator, don't hurt anyone with sticks!