Guardian of the Flame
Sophia passes her days shut up in the lighthouse of Alexandria, blaming herself for a tragedy of twenty years past. She dedicates her life to keeping the flame alive and preserving her husband’s intellectual legacy at the Museum, sure she neither wants nor deserves anything more. Bellus is a commander in Julius Caesar’s sixth cohort, respected by his centurions, with a beautiful fiancée back in Rome. Yet he knows that he longs for something more in life. When Caesar descends on Alexandria, Bellus is charged with keeping the lighthouse. However, Sophia is using it to guard something more precious from Caesar’s grasp: knowledge, in particular the Proginosko, a device that will enable mankind to have control over time.
Amidst this turmoil, Cleopatra, a former pupil of Sophia’s, has returned from exile to claim power from her brother Ptolomey. She is determined to save herself and Egypt by winning Caesar’s alliance at any cost, but does not realize that cost may be greater than anything she has yet given: her heart. Culture, ambition, and faith clash as each woman meets her match and must make a decision that will change her life forever.
Guardian of the Flame is the third in Higley’s Seven Wonders series. Part romance, part suspense, and part political novel, it defies a standard categorization. I have reviewed several inspirational novels for HNS and found this to be a cut above most. I enjoyed Higley’s retelling of the Beauty and the Beast myth in the unlikely romance of the plain, surly Sophia and cultured Bellus, as well as her blending of fact and fiction to create a suspenseful story leading to one of the most famous fires in history.