Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Last Ember by Daniel Levin

I've already confessed to a weakness for Dan Brownian novels, so the latest one I've read shouldn't come as a surprise choice to anyone--and the subject matter of choice is of particular interest to me. The Last Ember features a young American lawyer named Jonathan Marcus, a former classics student, now a corporate lawyer, summoned mysteriously to Rome in order to testify in an antiquities case regarding broken pieces of the Forma Urbis, a stone map of ancient Rome. His opposite number, Dr. Emili Travia, former girlfriend of Jonathan, quickly becomes involved in the mysterious reason for his visit, a millennia-old cover-up regarding the true fate of the Menorah of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, long believed to have been brought back to Rome by Titus and then lost to history. Jonathan and Emili must struggle against corrupt police, nefarious artifact destruction around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and even Jonathan's past in order to uncover the truth and preserve the past, using Flavius Josephus's writings to bring light to the mystery.

Levin, a Harvard-educated man, writes well and constructs a great narrative with compelling characters who are actually three-dimensional, unlike some of his counterparts in the Dan Brownian world. The novel appears to be meticulously researched, full of classical quotations and fascinating information, and while obviously a work of fiction gains a great sense of reality from the details woven into the story.

Highly recommended for fans of history as well as lovers of Dan Brown!

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