An Historical Mystery
Ancient Rome -- era of corruption, intrigue and seduction. Caesar Augustus has died and Tiberius is about to become the second emperor of Rome.
Marco, former slave in the house of Claudius, is now a freedman and has become master of the grain shipments at the Claudia Procula estate in Ostia. Procula and her cousin, Claudius the Stammerer, unwittingly involve Marco in a political scheme that could threaten the throne and puts them all at risk. For everyone's safety, Marco is forced into the Roman Legion and is eventually posted in Judea.
Several years later he is reunited with his former mistress, who is now the wife of the procurator of Judea, and the old political maneuver once again threatens their safety. When Marco stands trial for aiding a new sect of fanatics who promote a false faith, he is faced with an agonizing choice--where does his allegiance lay? With Rome, or with the truth?
Alex Domokos and Rita Y. Toews
Hard Shell Word Factory
Review by Peter Jones of Great New Books That Are a Must Read
"I'm a big fan of historical fiction, especially those that take the time to include well researched historical facts that are interwoven into an enthralling read. Well, The Centurion is just that, a historical mystery that interweaves facts with intrigue, creating one of the best books of the year (the book has already won an Eppie Award)..." Read the full review at Great New Books
Absorbing Read .... Recommended 5 stars
Reviewed by: Molly Martin
". . . Caesar Augustus, Tiberius, the house of Claudius, Judea, the Roman Legion, Jerusalem, Herod, the birth of Christ, Annas, Caiphas, Pilate, Golgotha, names, places and events found on the pages of history are all part of the tale woven with expertise by writers Domokos and Toews...
Writers Domokos and Toews have done their homework. The Centurion is filled with more than enough historical and Biblical fact to keep the most discerning reader turning the pages. The tale of Marco and his coming awareness that life can hold more than he had realized is convincing. Dialog is gritty, filled with human emotion and typical of the time portrayed in the narrative as well as typical of us all today. Venues are abundantly represented as they draw the reader into the tale from the outset. Reader interest is held tight from the opening paragraphs right to the end of the narrative as we follow Marcos through ups and downs, excitement, despondency, awakening belief, despair and hope.
Lives of historical figures are enlarged or strengthened as we come to see some of them in a more human light. Inscrutability, stratagem, life and death struggle, historical fact and historical 'might have been' are all intermingled into a compelling read. The Centurion is a must have for those who find history enticing and want to immerse themselves in a well written account concerning the lives of lesser along with well-known figures from earlier days.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for the home pleasure reading list, the high school library shelf and the community library reading public.
A Reader Review:
"I very much enjoyed reading this very well written and well researched book and can warmly recommend it for lovers of historical novels about the Roman Empire." -- JÝrgen Dybdahl, Spain
Reviewed by Dr. Bob Rich, M.Sc., Ph.D.
The times of Jesus have always had a fascination for people. Like today, they were turbulent, troubled and ominous. The Centurion does an excellent job of bringing them to life through the beliefs and activities of very realistic people, some Romans, others Hebrews.
The Centurion of the title is Marco, a freedman who has to join the Army because he had been used as a tool in some political intrigue, and it's the Legions or being killed in the Circus. He leaves behind his love, and unknown to himself, a son.
His moving story is the device for presenting the events that changed the world.
The book is based on impeccable research. The times, traditions and values of Rome are brought to life. The people, their motivations, joys and fears are genuine. You can learn more about Rome from this novel than from a library full of dry history books.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of this book is the language: it's very easy reading.
Reviewed by Brad Eden of Historical Novel Society
THE CENTURION Alex Domokos and Rita Y. Toews, Hard Shell Word Factory, 2006, $7.50, e-book, 342pp, 0759942439
This novel is a retelling of events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, specifically the life and background of Pontius Pilate. According to the authors, Pilate was most likely appointed governor of Judea by Lucius Aelius Sejanus, a well-known Roman anti-Semite. In 31 CE, Sejanus attempted to overthrow Emperor Tiberius Caesar and was executed. Tiberius then issued a decree that all persecution of Jews was to stop. Tiberius also executed many of Sejanusís friends and family, and Pilate may have been under intense scrutiny regarding his relationship to Sejanus. At Jesusís trial, Pilate attempted not to pass judgment on him, probably so that this particular incident would not bring him unwanted attention from Tiberius. Only after the crowd reminded Pilate that he was not a friend of Caesarís (perhaps a threat that someone would link him to Sejanus), did he finally pass judgment on Jesus.
Pilateís wife, Claudia Procula, came from the noble Roman Claudian house, and it is interesting that someone of so old and noble a clan should be located in a backwater province like Judea. Her responses and warnings to Pilate during Jesusí trial are also a point of interest in this novel. Finally, the role of Longinus during the crucifixion is detailed and examined near the end of the book.
The authors provide a foreword, explaining some of their theories, and a glossary of terms at the end. I found the historical information from which this novel was produced very interesting, and the authors go out of their way to construct the drama based on logical lines of historical reasoning and justification. -- Brad Eden
Reviewed by: Karen Treanor for The New Mystery Reader
Current events in the Middle East may seem turbulent and dangerous to those who live in the 21st century, but this part of the world has been a focus for violence since the beginning of history.
Authors Domokos and Toews have written about one of the most dramatic periods in that history: the first millennium CE. Jerusalem and all of Judaea are in ferment under the apparently quiet surface. Roman troops and Roman governors have clamped down on free speech and movement, and are keeping the populace repressed, sometimes with savagery that rivals anything we are seeing today.
Through the life of the Centurion Marco Claudianus Secundus, we experience the political machinations and the military campaigns that put Judaea in turmoil. Murder and treachery are rife all over the Roman Empire, and a wise man trusts nobody. The early Christians are seen by many in Rome as potential traitors, and by the High Priest in Jerusalem as apostates. It's a brave man or woman who openly confesses the faith. Life is hard for a common soldier who's just trying to do his job.
In Rome, Sejanus is plotting to overthrow the Emperor Tiberius. The emperor didn't survive to be an old man by being stupid, however, and thanks to a network of spies and loyalists, the plot is uncovered. Sejanus and all who appeared to support him are condemned to death--even those whose association was quite innocent.
Marco and his wife and child are caught up in the web of power and fear, which only becomes worse when Marco volunteers to guard a tomb wherein lies the body of a man known as the Teacher. Pushed by his superior officer to admit to having collaborated with those who stole the body of the crucified man, Marco stubbornly tells the truth, and gets prison as his reward.
Things look grim for Marco and his family, despite the best attempts of Claudia Procula, Marco's former owner, and wife to Pontius Pilate. The story appears to be at a premature end when intervention by a most unlikely character changes things, but not before a tragic death tests Marco's belief in the Teacher to the limit.
If you like the Marcus Didius Falco series of Lindsay Davies, you will enjoy this book. It's darker, longer (120,000 words), and heavier on the history, but deals with almost the same period and is based on careful research by the authors. Building on what we know of first century Rome and Romans, the authors have fleshed out the characters to make them into very believable people. The handling of Pontius Pilate and his wife are particularly good. Pilate is a man torn by conflicting motivations: expediency, loyalty, self-preservation, and that little voice in the dark of night that makes you wonder if you are doing the right thing. He could well have walked out of any political arena in today's world.
This is the perfect book for a long weekend when you really didn't want to mow the lawn or clear out the garage anyway.
You can buy a copy at Fictionwise
3 3/4 bolts --Karen Treanor
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