Cato is a wealthy politician who has tired of Rome's corruption and hopes to find a better political scene in Pompeii. He doesn't play the power games of his peers, but finds that Pompeii is just as corrupt as the city he left behind. Things are looking bad for the Christians in the city, and Cato's family is in danger if he does not go along with what is expected of him. He looks for allies in the city, and instead discovers a group of Christians who confuse everything he's ever learned about life. And they hide a certain young woman who's existence may be the answer they all seek for resolutions to their unique problems.
Ariella is nothing but a runaway slave in the coastal town of Pompeii. She has a a secret however, that could make her life worthless if discovered; she is disguised as a boy and gladiator. She is an excellent fighter, but the chance of discovery is determined only by her skills. She has a very good reasons for her deception, and she sees no other course for her life but to hide who she truly is. When Cato shows up looking for supporters, will she be able to trust him with her secret in order to save her fiends and his family? Or is the city of fire going to destroy everything they have worked for?
Historical fiction is always going to be my favorite genre. But without question, this Biblical era saga has grabbed my attention in it's details, the way the characters interact, and the way the story moves along with the intrigue of the ancient city of Pompeii as it's backdrop. It is exciting and fast-paced, and the peek into the lives for the Christians of this time period was fresh and rich with historical details. I loved everything about this novel, and I am confident that even if one is not particularly drawn to this sort of book, it can be enjoyed by anyone.
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.
A young slave woman escapes, disguises herself as a boy, and fights with the gladiators, all the while longing to be free. A politician moves to the city and seeks justice in a place where the people live in fear of what will happen if they do not remain loyal to those already in power. A powerful idolater wants nothing to do with God, practicing his pagan religion in the heart of the city. Their lives crash together in Pompeii. Some people learn true freedom and justice can only be found in the Lord. Others remain hardhearted and turn their back on Him. All will have to face the destruction of the city and try to survive the disaster to come.
As someone who has always been fascinated by the account of Pompeii, I was not disappointed. Higley did her research and describes the city in such a way that made me feel as if I were there and that the characters' struggles were my own. The unlikely romance that develops between Ariella, the woman gladiator, and Cato, the young politician, left me wondering what would happen next - and my knowledge of the city's impending doom lent even more suspense. It is a good reminder that even in a society as depraved as the Roman Empire, God is still in control and still working in the lives of His people.
An excellent read for adults. The utter depravity of the Roman Empire is necessary to the story and is incorporated tastefully and not explicitly, for which I commend the author. However, I would still recommend an adult previewing the book before allowing a young person to read it.
(Disclosure of Material Connection: I can, and do, think for myself, therefore all opinions here are my own. The BookSneeze.comÂ® book review bloggers program was kind enough to provide me with a copy of the book to review. Because the government thinks it has to control everything, I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.")
At the base of Mount Vesuvius lies ï»¿the coastal town of Pompeii, a city churning with political unrest and filled with a people who embrace all that Rome has to offer. Cato has recently moved to Pompeii after giving up on ever changing the corrupt political landscape of Rome. Along with his mother and sister, he has come to Pompeii for a fresh start, intent on embracing the life of a vineyard owner. He soon meets another newcomer to Pompeii, a young gladiator training to fight. However, the gladiator is guarding a deadly secret, that she's a runaway Jewish slave girl named Ariella. Despite his intentions, Cato soon finds himself fighting the political corruption in Pompeii, while Ariella finds herself fighting for a fame that she hopes will lead to her freedom. Both soon find themselves fighting for their lives and those whom they love.
"City On Fire" is a gripping read, bringing to life the historical city of Pompeii in such a vivid way that I felt like I was watching the scenes play across my mind. It was chilling to observe the Roman customs, of a people devoted to worshipping false gods while satisfying every sort of lust imaginable. The characters of Ariella and Cato are both utterly fascinating, Cato as he encounters corruption and Ariella as she struggles to survive in a harsh world. Their journey to discover the truth of Jesus is a beautiful one to observe, and I marvelled at Higley's ability to write a suspenseful novel that also provides a clear gospel message. The novel is well-written and moves along very well, with nary a dull moment to be found. The reader may have to suspend their belief somewhat at the idea of a young woman being able to truly disguise her gender among 100 male gladiators. But the story itself is simply absorbing, and the final chapters had me racing through the pages as the author brings to life the eruption of Vesuvius and the end of Pompeii.
I thoroughly enjoyed "City on Fire", and continue to consider Higley to be one of the best historical authors in the Christian marketplace. I award this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and the Booksneeze program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
If you enjoy historical novels, may I recommend City on Fire? Tracy L. Higley has obviously done some scrupulous research in preparation for writing this book. She provides us with a number of memorable characters, including Cato, the politician turned winemaker, Ariella, the Jewish slave girl who becomes a gladiator, and Jeremiah, the Jewish rabbi who became a Christian servant. Their stories are interwoven with others whose names can be found in the annals of history, and come alive against the backdrop of the last days of Pompeii, with Mount Vesuvius grumbling in the background. The unrest beneath the mountain is mirrored in the political unrest of the day, with its corrupt politicians and growing persecution of both Jews and Christians.
The main characters, Cato and Ariella, come from vastly different backgrounds , and live in vastly different circumstances, yet both are brought face to face with the same question: what will they do with the Christ? Their weighing of evidence, and the probable consequences of a decision for Him are well portrayed.
City on Fire was a great combination of history, adventure, and romance: I enjoyed the read, and the twists and turns throughout the book. The single warning note comes from the way the author carefully skirts around most of the immoral practices that were common in the day; some mention of them is integral to the story line, and specifics are almost entirely omitted, but there are some details which may be offensive. For this reason, I would caution against providing this book to younger readers.