I like Jennifer A. Nielsen’s books. There’s a lot of action, a lot of humor, and characters who are really just trying to do the right thing, so please leave them out of your drama. Except then where would be the story.
Mark of the Thief takes places in ancient Rome and the main character, Nic, is a slave. He’s forced to go into a mine that turns out to be full of Julius Caesar’s long lost treasure. The general who sent him in wants to get his bands on one thing: an amulet that belonged to Caesar when he was a child. It’s said to be very powerful. If Nic gets out alive, the general will probably kill him. If he doesn’t get out, he’s dead anyway. (Because he’s in a sealed underground cavern, duh.)