Pompeii by T.L.Higley

Title: Pompeii
Author: T.L.Higley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in: Pompeii (Rome)
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

My Thoughts:

This being the third book I have read by T.L.Higley, I can safely say that this author never disappoints. Pompeii is one of the books in the “Seven wonders of the world” series and no, you don’t have to read the previous books to understand this one because they are completely unrelated.

Pompeii is a small holiday town nestled in the shadow of the mountain Vesuvius. Ariella escapes Jerusalem when the Romans capture the city. For 9 years she works as a slave to Valerius and has to take part in the activities of his secret cult. She escapes Valerius and this life of slavery when she disguises herself as a young boy in a Gladiator group. This group then comes to Pompeii to perform. Cato comes to Pompeii to get away from Rome and all its political intrigues, to escape from his past humiliations and failures.

While Ariella, as Ari, tries to survive a gladiator camp full of men, Cato tries to stay away from the sleazy politics of Pompeii. But he is ultimately dragged into it when he meets the Town politician Maius. Mauis is the kind of man who will do anything and everything to stay in power. He takes an instant dislike to Cato. What follows is a political war where Cato tries to get the town to side with him and Mauis trying to crush him in every way possible. Meanwhile Ariella tries her best to train and survive the fights as a male gladiator.

I loved this book. It has the a distinct T.L.Higley flavor to it. Ariella is a strong female character who will fight to survive and refuse to take charity from anyone. The courage she showed was truly inspiring. Cato on the other hand was not so striking as a character. I thought he was a little bland compared to Ariella. The story is amazing though. I love how the author can build a believable story out of nothing but the ruins of Pompeii and some historical information available. Mauis was a slimy character, a true villain, the kind that could give you bad dreams. I seriously don’t remember hating a fictional character so much.

One thing to remember is that this is a Christian Fiction and Pompeii definitely is a little heavy on this aspect compared to her previous 2 books I’ve read. But I wasn’t really bothered by it as it was woven into the story with such ease that it never felt forced. Ariella has lost faith in God because of her loss and suffering. Cato is so lost and confused with life that he needs a direction and Christianity provided them that. Having said that there is absolutely no preaching in this book or any other books written by T.L.Higley. That’s what I love about this author so much. I have no interest in reading about Christianity or any other religion for that matter. But I loved Pompeii for the sheer brilliance of its story.

Here are the reviews for the other novels written by T.L.Higley.
Shadow of Colossus
Guardian of the Flame

Shadow of Colossus still remains my favorite book though. Pompeii coming a close second.
Go HERE to see some pictures of Pompeii and of the authors travels there.

Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Title: Cleopatra’s Daughter
Author: Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in: Rome
Source: Review Copy
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (September 15, 2009)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Selene, who after the death of her parents, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, had to travel to Rome from Alexandra as War Prisoner along with her 2 brothers Alexander and Ptolemy. Ptolemy died in the ship on the way to Rome. When they reached Rome, Octavian paraded them in chains as his conquests. Later he appointed Octavia as their caretaker. Octavia was his sister and Mark Antony’s ex-wife. But Augusta was a kind woman and never held anything against Selene or Alexander in spite of the fact that Mark Antony had abandoned her and her children to marry their mother. Cleopatra’s Daughter is the story of Selene seemingly interspersed with the political background of Rome.

Selene is such a strong character and Ms. Moran brings forth her trepidation, anxiousness, fear, determination and strength of character very well. And then there are other characters too who are equally if not more enchanting. There is Octavian who would do anything to have power over Rome, Octavia who took care of the children as if they were her own, Marcellus, Alexander, Julia and of course Juba. He was someone I paid the most attention to right from the beginning although I didn’t know anything about Selene’s history. I have to admit that these very characters confused me in the beginning for the only reason of having to remember their names and these eventually were the same people I came to love and understand.

And then above all this is the way Michelle Moran brings ancient Rome to life. She does it with the same skill that was evident in Nefertiti and The Heretics Daughter. It made me want to visit Rome just to see the places these people lived in once upon a time.

What more can I say about Michelle Moran that hasn’t already been said before? When I went to a bookstore back in India once, the sales person told me that Michelle Moran books sell like hotcakes. That’s because Michelle Moran writes historical fiction in a way that makes you want to flip the pages like you would do for a thriller. She knows how to make history accessible to all kinds of readers. There is something for everyone in this book. Highly Recommended.

Note: Another news I am very excited about is Michelle Moran’s next book called ‘Madame Tussaud‘ is coming out in April 2011. Long wait but so worth it.