It’s the time of the greatest prophet, the Messiah, awaited by the Jewish people of Jerusalem. It’s also the time of fierce Roman rule and a determination to stamp out anything and anyone providing a threat to Caesar. During the time of Pontius Pilate, the Procurator of this hotbed land, everything always seems on the brink of rebellion. Nissa lives with her blind brother, Cedron, and has been forced to become a thief, an option that could have her stoned at the Temple or brutally lashed by Roman centurions. Longinus is one of those centurions, a bitter man who mourns a great loss. He hates his service post until he finally makes a gamble to earn his way out of Jerusalem. For all his initial planning, even his best-laid plans go awry.
Stephanie Landsem has written a beautifully crafted, inspiring novel that parallels two paths of turmoil. The inability of Roman soldiers to control these spiritual people, especially at the time of the Passover, parallels the danger for those who live day by day, never knowing if each will be their last. It also parallels the path Jesus has chosen, misunderstood by his followers but dramatically impacting all he meets. There is an interesting addition with the focus on just what it means to die for another’s sin or guilt – and no, you can’t imagine what it is, so unusual is this part of the story. As we approach the celebration of Passover for Jews and the Easter cycle for Christians, this is a wonderful, credible historical novel. Highly recommended!