Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Book Review: City on Fire

As most of my readers already know, I love history, and when I have the chance to read, I usually dive in for a work of historical fiction. I immediately scooped up City on Fire, a novel of Pomeii and read it in just a few sittings.

City on Fire, written by Tracy Higley, introduces us to Ariella, a Jewish teenager who witnesses firsthand the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD. Her parents are killed in the attacks, and her younger brother is in the chaos.

The story picks up about 9 years later, where Ariella is a household slave in Rome. She escapes and pretends to be a man to begin her life as a gladiator, eventually making her way to Pompeii…Simultaneously, Roman politician Quintus Cato also arrives in Pompeii, eager to step out of the political forum and into the wine making industry.

The majority of the book describes Ariella’s (or Ari’s) attempts to keep her gender a secret while training as a gladiator, as well as Cato’s own fight against the political corruption in Pompeii. At the same time, a group of early Christians make their mark on both characters, and their paths eventually cross.

City on Fire was well-written and while an easy read, still had plenty of action to keep me interested. It gave a good representation of the days of early Christianity, and the struggles and dangers that the early Christians had to endure. The character development was very good, and I felt myself connected to the characters. My only (very picky) qualm was that the rest of the book was so well-written with so much development, that the ending seemed a little hasty. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, however, and look forward to reading more of Ms. Higley’s writings in the future.  

*While I was graciously provided a copy of this book from the publisher via BookSneeze, all opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

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