Claudia Lucretia Pilate, the fictional daughter of the historically accurate governor Pontius Pilate, is not happy with her father’s choice of husband for her: the handsome Roman Tribune Marcus Gaius Sejanus, who has been assigned the task of ridding Palestine of the troublesome Zealots. The fact that one of these young Jewish Zealots, Judah ben Hillel, has stolen Claudia’s heart makes the story even more compelling.
The Pilates are citizens of Rome, but Pontius’ service as governor to Judea has brought them to a troubled part of the Empire at a very inauspicious time—when a Jewish prophet from Galilee is wreaking havoc on the same powers that Rome hopes to keep under their firm control. From the lurid halls of Herod to the over-turning of the Temple stalls, these facts are interspersed with genuine, believable responses created from the author’s painstaking research.
True to the genre, this historical novel brings to vivid detail the strife and struggles of a well-known time and place. Seamlessly weaving facts and people with imaginary events and characters just as vibrant, Smith has written a satisfying read that leaves you with much to ponder. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, she takes a turn you never expected. Very well done!