Reminiscent of the strands in a braided challah, The Last Ember weaves three separate storylines throughout its chapters until arriving at the end where it is all tied together like a risen challah loaf. Daniel Levin, author of this historical novel, is a master at manipulating the three seemingly mutually exclusive storylines as they intertwine, overlap, and eventually merge into one single tale. As the novel unfolds, one becomes wrapped in history, suspense, mystery, and adventure.
Along one strand, one finds the complicated story of Jonathan Marcus, a former graduate student and Roman Prize winner in classics now turned lawyer, who is “reunited” with a former fellow student when he arrives in Rome on a case. Emili Travia and Jonathan clash in the courtroom only to come together later in a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” adventure as they uncover a mystery of ancient artifacts unfolding before them.
In the middle, the Italian Cultural Heritage Guard, led by a man called the Prophet is in the midst of an antiquities crime investigation. Their journey into this story begins as they discover the moved and preserved remains of an ancient woman. Profeta (the Prophet) grabs what evidence he can and runs just as a bomb goes off destroying the entire warehouse.
From Rome to the Old City of Jerusalem, Salah ad-Din is hard at work with illegal destruction and excavation in search of an ancient artifact for which Titus conquered the entire city of Jerusalem in 70 CE. His evil and illegal efforts only become more atrocious and, unfortunately believable, as the story unfolds.
The entire mystery revolves around Flavius Josephus, born Joseph Ben Matthias. He was a Jewish historian who witnessed, survived and recorded Titus’ destruction of Jerusalem. Jonathan Marcus spent his graduate years researching Josephus and attempting to prove that there was more to this Jewish man’s legacy beyond the story of his captivity by the Romans, his alleged role as a traitor, and subsequent rise in Roman culture
With bad guys where you least expect them and good guys right where they’ve always been, The Last Ember will have you entranced from cover to cover. The reader will frequently discover his or her mouth hanging open in anticipation, tension and wonderment.
I fear I am unable to say enough to convince you that you must read Daniel Levin’s The Last Ember. If you like mysteries, historical fiction, adventure, thrillers, suspense, love stories, real stuff, pretend stuff, Rome, Jerusalem… you need to pick up this book.
The only downfall I experienced during my reading is that I didn’t speak to or see my children for days because I just had to see what happened in the next chapter!
I received a copy of this book for the purpose of reviewing it.
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