Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Tracy L. Higley

When I first read about "City on Fire:  A Novel of Pompeii", I was intrigued with it as I am quite interested in historical events and Pompeii is an interesting subject.   

This is what the write up about the book said:

As Vesuvius churns, a slave girl-turned-gladiator joins forces with an unlikely source to seek justice.
In the coastal town of Pompeii, a new gladiator prepares to fight. But this gladiator hides a deadly secret: she’s a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella, disguised as a young boy. A savvy fighter, Ariella determines to triumph in the arena, knowing her life will be forfeit should anyone uncover the truth.
Cato, a wealthy politician, moved to Pompeii after tiring of the corruption in Rome. But he soon learns that Pompeii is just as corrupt, and if he doesn’t play the game, his family could pay the price. Determined to bring about justice for the citizens of Pompeii, Cato searches for allies. But what he discovers instead is a confounding group of Christians . . . and a young female gladiator whose fame is growing daily.
Political unrest reaches a boiling point as Christians are jailed and executed, and the mountain in the distance threatens to destroy the city with its river of fire. Cato and Ariella must act quickly and courageously to save their loved ones before all is lost.
I had a hard time getting into the book.  The book took turns following the different characters and building their stories.  It took me about 1/3 of the way through the book before it really held my interest.  This was when the characters' stories merged.  After that, I read it with more enjoyment.  For the last 1/4 of the book, I read it almost frantically to see if they would find each other in the chaos and if they would escape Pompeii before Vesuvius buried the city.
"City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii" is a historical Christian fiction story and I was intrigued by the historical details that were woven throughout the book.  I did not realize that the burning of the temple by the Romans and Vesuvius burying Pompeii were contemporary events.  I always thought that Pompeii being obliterated was an event that took place well before Jesus walked on Earth.   Tracy Higley used places and items unearthed in Pompeii to build her story, which adds to the realism of the book.    I really liked the portrayal of the early Christians and their house church meetings.  The story also gives a very clear gospel message.   
The book mentions Dionysian Mysteries and their cult's immoral practices.  For the most part, she glosses over the disgusting details, but there were a couple of times that I cringed at the amount of detail she did include.  This would make the book suitable for mature readers, only, in my opinion.
There is a word list in the beginning of the book to tell the meanings of some Roman terms used in the book.  This wasn't much help to me having an e-book version of the book as it wasn't very easy to "flip" to it like it would be for an actual book.  There are also discussion questions for use in a book group and "The Story Behind the Story... and Beyond" where the author tells of how she came to write the book.
"City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii" is available for $15.99

Length400 Pages
Publication DateSeptember 17, 2013
  • Thomas Nelson

I received a free e-book copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.  No other form of compensation was received.  

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