From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.
For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith.
What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.
I randomly stumbled across this book while actually looking for another book. I noticed that it was about the Romans and after read having Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind, which made me fall in love with Roman-era novels, I decided to read this one. Initially, I found it to be a bit slow, then I noticed that it had shades of the Biblical story of Joseph and I thought it would be predictable, then I reached about 20% on my kindle. Then I fell in love with this book. Here’s why:
What I liked:
The realistic portrayals of Rome. Let’s face it, Rome was about as debaucherous as you could get and authors can either pretend that that stuff didn’t happen or they can tell it like it is. Well, Ms. Kimball tells it like it is. Boy does Jonathan (and some secondary characters) ever go through some things. She didn’t revel in it, but I’m glad she acknowledged that it was there.
Gladiators. Ever since the film Gladiator, I kinda sorta am interested in them and we get a lot of Gladiatorial happenings in this book.
The romance. It had this slow burn to it that was done fabulously. You could see Nessa and Jonathan falling in love with each other. And the sacrifices that he made on her behalf….
It was sweeping. This is not just one story, not just a year in someone’s life. It spreads across more then 10 years and Jonathan manages to affect everyone he comes into contact with.
Spiritually, the theme is forgiveness. Jonathan has a lot of people who treated him wrongly, and yet we are required to forgive. It’s beautifully portrayed throughout the whole novel. There is also another theme on not turning back on God when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to. Good stuff.
What I didn’t like:
Again, it took a minute for me to become invested, but once I did, I couldn’t put this book down.
Overall, loved it!.