Pompeii by T.L. Higley

I was instantly drawn into the story of Pompeii, but when the girl slave decided to switch places with a boy slave heading for gladiator training I just lost all interest because of the historical inaccuracy. Gladiators were well known for their honor and allegiance to their lanista, and female gladiators were so highly prized they lanista would pay just about any price to have one. Ariella could have easily petitioned him to become one. Apparently, it was done so much so...

Ultimately, in A.D. 200, Emperor Septimius Severus outlawed such female demonstrations when he issued a decree banning single combat by women in the arena, for “[a] recrudescence among some upper-class women, and the raillery this provoked among the audience” (Gardner, 1986, p. 248).
This is  why I've had such a problem with this plot. Higley has visited these places. She has studied these cultures. She could so easily have braided the plot to include historical fact. Although, to be fair, the girl was a runaway slave and had to keep her identity secret albeit she was found out anyway. We can't run from our demons. Only God can send them to the pit so they won't harangue us any more.

I have a heavy portion of the motivational spiritual gift  of teacher. This means that I have a huge problem with good writing that has some historical, or any other, errors. I have a tendency to toss the baby out with the bath water so I must work on this. Take that as your grain of salt in this review.

The girl changing places with a boy and pretending to be a boy is a good plot twist, and Higley didn't dwell over long on that situation but brought her into the hero's home early in the story. The introduction of the villain was also done very well. Character development was a bit slow, but probably necessary for a little tension in the beginning. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and if you like 1st Century stories, you'll like this novel.

I give this one 3 out of 5 stars.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
B&H Books (June 1, 2011)
T.L. Higley


A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley, author of Pompeii: City on Fire (B&H Publishing House, June 2011) started her first novel at the age of eight.

Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.

“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley. “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”

In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.

“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.

When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four online retail companies, including – a family-run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.

Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Pompeii, a city that's many things to many people. For Cato, it's the perfect escape from a failed political career in Rome. A place to start again, become a winemaker. But when a corrupt politician wrongfully jails Cato's sister, he must oust the man from power to save her.

For Ariella, Pompeii is a means to an end. As a young Jew, she escaped the fall of Jerusalem only to endure slavery to a cruel Roman general. She ends up in Pompeii, disguised as a young man and sold into a gladiator troupe. Her anger fuels her to fight well, hoping to win the arena crowds and reveal her gender at the perfect time. Perhaps then she will win true freedom.

But evil creeps through the streets of Pompeii. Political corruption, religious persecution, and family peril threaten to destroy Ariella and Cato, who are thrown together in the battle to survive. As Vesuvius churns with deadly intent, the two must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love, before the fiery ash buries Pompeii, leaving the city lost to the world.

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the Prologue of Pompeii, go HERE.

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