Monday, October 7, 2013

City on Fire Book Review

City on Fire by Tracy Higley was a fascinating read.  I have long been a historical fiction fan.  This novel of Pompeii is set in 79 A.D. in the period before and during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that buried Pompeii.

Quintus Cato, his mother, and younger sister had recently moved to Pompeii from Rome, at the urging of Cato’s married sister.  Cato was involved in politics in Rome, but as a man of integrity, he was unable to turn the tide of corruption there.  His hope was to settle down, be a good businessman, and leave politics behind.  However, he soon discovered that a ruthless, arrogant, corrupt man named Maius ran the city of Pompeii.  Soon Cato was approached about running against Maius for the leading office.  As soon as Maius knew a man of integrity hoped to unseat him, he began attacking Cato, trying to destroy his livelihood by fire, his sister’s marriage and reputation, and even hired thugs to assault him.

A gladiator troop came to Pompeii.  Most of the citizens found violence very entertaining.  Some of the fare of the arena included lions killing Christians.  A young Jewish girl, who had joined the gladiator troop to escape slavery to a wicked master in Rome, lived disguised as a male gladiator.  Ariella was in danger of losing her life in the arena when Cato rescued her.

Both of them became involved with a Christian group who was instrumental in leading them to faith in Jesus as Messiah.

Higley visited Pompeii twice.  Her research has enabled her to portray the society of Pompeii as well as the Christian sect as they likely interacted in history.  As depraved as that society was, the Christians show that through God’s grace, God’s people can live godly lives in the midst of a fallen generation.  That fact should give hope to Christians in our day.

One-fifth of the book deals with the volcano eruption, its stages, and the effects on the townspeople—in slow motion.  I was gratified by the way the Christians responded with compassion and grace even toward those who had imprisoned them for their faith in Christ.

I felt Higley handled adult situations very carefully, but because some of the gods and goddesses worship is alluded to, I would not want my juvenile readers exposed to it.  The Word List at the start of the book was very helpful and I referred to it frequently.

I received this book for free from Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review.