At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young assessore raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, “Offer to release Barabbas.” The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths—Roman crucifixion.
Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire. He has survived the insane rule of Caligula and has weathered the cruel tyrant’s quest to control the woman he loves. He has endured the mindless violence of the gladiator games and the backstabbing intrigue of the treason trials.
Now he must face another evil Caesar, defending the man Paul in Nero’s deranged court. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution?
The advocate’s first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an empire.
I love books like this that make history come alive. I think it is possible to read the Bible and believe wholeheartedly that it is true and still not quite grasp the concept that the stories in it happened to real people. At least it is for me. I tend to get lost in searching for Biblical truth and life application and lose the human interest. Likewise, it is possible to read history books about how Nero persecuted Christians without fully comprehending that these Christians were men and women with children and families. This is why I enjoy reading historical fiction so much.
Singer obviously completed a lot of research in the process of writing this book. In fact, it took five years to complete, according to the afterword at the end of the book. Those five years showed in the amount of historical facts Singer used in the book. What I found most interesting was Theophilis witnessing Jesus’s final days in Jerusalem. It was different from anything I have read before and it make the events come alive for me. The entire book made history come alive and I learned things about Roman culture that I was not previously aware of. I enjoyed it very much. Although it is a lengthy book of over 400 pages, it is so interesting that it didn’t take long to read.
Of course, realism has its drawbacks. This book is quite real and Singer does not shy aware from the description of torture and the effect of crucifixion on the body is difficult to read. Some scenes were very difficult to read and were a little nauseating. I found that I was gritting my teeth just to get through some scenes. Fainthearted readers beware. Some teens might wish to read this book, but parents might want to pre-read it and be ready to discuss it with their teens. Singer delivers his usual descriptive flair in this book and I thought it was a great book. Although the difficult scenes were hard to read, they were real. These actual events may not have happened in exactly the way Singer described, but it is true that Nero persecuted and killed Christians in the arena.
If you are looking to have a more complete picture of Roman times in the time of the early church, this is a great book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.