Giving a summary of this novel is difficult. None of the plot threads begun in the first novel were developed enough in the second to give the feeling of a story, a continuation of a story, or anything other than a long, drawn out coda. Almost all of the characters end this novel where they started. Vitas, the gladiator, still has no idea what he thinks or where his wife is. His brother is still doing the slave-hunter thing, tracking down John and his brother. Sophia, Vitas' wife, still thinks her husband is dead and is on the run. John, the apostle, spends most of his time below decks on a ship. Nero is still a psychopathic sociopath (or is that a sociopathic psychopath?). Maglorious is still searching for his children in Jerusalem, which is still on the brink of war. In short: The bad guys are still bad, and the good guys are still around - though they aren't doing much.
Nothing significant enough happens to justify the nearly four-hundred pages this book consists of.
Regardless of that, I waded past all the Roman, Greek, and Jewish names, muddled my way through the authors' usage of the Roman days of the week, the Jewish monthly calendar, and the Latin hours of the day, and found myself at the end of this novel with nothing but a bad taste in my mouth.
I don't enjoy gore or bloodlust. Everyone and everything is fair game for violence and torture in this novel: pregnant women, children, animals, the handicapped, you name it. Scene after scene with disembowelments, mutilations, murders, and then the descriptions of the corpses left behind. The majority of these scenes have nothing to do with plot or character development. Of the presumably justifiable scenes, many were unnecessarily disturbing. Early in the novel, a scene depicting how Nero had a young boy castrated so that Nero could marry the boy while another boy was drowned in the garden pond made me ill. Reading about how parents are threatened by receiving an ear cut off the head of their recently kidnapped children, how can a scene like that do anything other than encourage me to put this novel down? I hung in there to the end and have nothing to show for it thanks to weak plot development. If this book were filmed, it would receive an R rating, and maybe an X rating as well if you included the scenes between the prostitutes and the various Romans. If the authors wanted to convince me the ancient Roman empire was steeped in evil, then they've done that with aplomb. However, if they had tempered their zeal, it would have made for a much more enjoyable novel. Sharp contrast makes for a good point, not excess; I don't need to be clubbed over the head with peril for me to understand that the characters are in danger.
The reasoning for the whole series is included in the Afterword. The authors support an interpretation of The Book of Revelation which states that all the events described therein occurred within one-hundred years of Christ's death, rather than still to happen in the future. If this book was supposed to convince me of the validity of this interpretation, then it failed utterly.
I don't recommend this series, or the individual novels. There was so much blood in these pages, all I am left with is the hope that the actual roman empire wasn't as bad as Brouwer and Hanegraaff have described it to be. A glaring lack of structured plot and character development meant that this book begins with a cliff hanger, ends with a cliff hanger, and has no attempt at any sort of resolution or conclusion to make this feel like an actual story, rather than a series of random scenes strung together depicting people being harmed. If Gladiator is your favorite movie and you watch it obsessively, then you might enjoy this series. Otherwise do your self a favor - avoid some nightmares and find something else to read.
Like The Last Disciple, The Last Sacrifice is a suspenseful read that spurs readers toward a bolder faith. It continues to offer insight into a more preterist interpretation of Revelation (although the authors are careful to note in the Afterword that they do not hold to a "hyper-preterist" view). It is easier to follow than the first book in the series because most of the characters (there are many!) have already been introduced. I recommend this book because it is well-written and engaging while providing insight into early Christianity and fuel for a stronger faith. However, be warned that it is not intended to be read as a stand-alone novel. It will really only make sense after reading the first book (The Last Disciple), and plenty of questions are left hanging for the third book (The Last Temple). Also, this book continues the horrific descriptions of life under Nero's regime and is potentially even darker than the first. I found that when I woke up in the night after reading parts of this book, I had trouble putting aside some of the images from what I had read.
I recently posted a review of the first book in this series, The Last Disciple, and loved it. This book was even better. It picks up where the first book ended and brings all of the characters back from the first book.
As I stated in my other review, the authors wrote these books with the premise that the Tribulation spoken of in Revelation has already happened in the first century. I disagree with that idea, but it is still an interesting idea and did not make me enjoy the books any less because of it.
Hanegraaff and Brouwer came up with some great characters to put in these books, and the best one, in my opinion, was Vetis. He pretty much turns out to be the central character in the books, and they did a great job of developing his character throughout the books. This book was even better than the first, and I did literally read it in one sitting, loving every minute of it.
This is historical fiction, and I have learned a lot about what happened in the days of Nero and what happened with Jerusalem. I would highlt recommend this whole series. It is, to use an over-used word, awesome.
"Helius, Nero's most trusted adviser, anticipates the death of his sworn enemy, the legendary warrior Gallus Sergius Vitas, scheduled to die a gruesome death in the arena. However, the badly beaten man who appears in the amphitheater is not who he seems. Rescued by a stranger and given a mysterious scroll, Vitas is told he must decipher this letter to find the answers he needsâ€”a letter that Helius is also determined to decipher and to keep hidden from Nero. As Nero's reign of terror grows, so does his circle of enemies." (Publisher's Description)
I bought this book at a local christian book store after reading the first book, The Last Disciple. It picks up right where the previous book leaves off. As with the first novel I again found this book hard to put down. It is a gripping read of Roman rule under Nero and the persecutions that first century Christians endured. Nero was a very evil man, and to read what the believers of that day endured made my cry and give me goosebumps. I would recommend this to those that like biblical fiction. I am anxiously waiting the final book in the trilogy!!!