Friday, March 14, 2008

The City of God, Part 3: Retribution

Title: Retribution

Series: The City of God #3

Author: Randall Ingermanson

Genre: Time Travel/Historical

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Retribution:

Rivka woke from a light sleep, her heart aching. The room was pitch black and smelled of incense and sweat and cheap wine. Like her apartment building back home in Berkeley.

A dull sigh caught in Rivka’s throat. She was not in Berkeley. Not even in America. She was in Jerusalame, a city of shimmering white stone, simmering with rage. And she was in the biggest trouble of her life.

Beside her, Ari moaned quietly. Dear, sweet, opinionated, lovable, infuriating Ari Kazan. They had been married for five year, and she knew now why people said it was a mistake to marry an unbeliever. More accurately, a half-believer. Ari believed in God. He did not believe in Yeshua. Three days ago, that unbelief had saved his life.

Deep grief welled up in Rivka’s heart. She felt so very grateful Ari had been saved. But not that way.

She could smell him in the deep darkness, the stale sweat rank on his naked body. Rivka touched a gentle finger to his jagged back. Thank God, Ari had survived the flogging. Blessed be HaShem, as they said here in Jerusalem, where they were too polite to say God’s name, but they had not qualms about torturing in his name.

Stranded in 1st century Jerusalem, 21st century couple Ari and Rivka prepare for the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

The Writing: Retribution carries all the strengths of Premonition: clean and straightforward writing; strong characters; steadily building tensions; thorough research that adds flavor to settings and characters; a satisfying climax.

Actually, I should say a mostly satisfying climax. The ending left me vaguely discontented. Too many loose ends remained for my tastes.

The end probably would have been fine, if it weren’t for the fact that this is the last book in the series, and that final bit of closure was lacking. Why? I’m not wholly sure. Maybe some false expectations on my part or perhaps this book was never intended by the author to be the final book. It’s hard to say.

Nonetheless, the writing provides a good reading experience overall, and the flow is smother than in Premonition.

The Story: Retribution is…intense. The time surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem ran high with emotion—emotions that bleed through the characters and across the page. The basic themes—relinquishment of rage and the power of sacrifice—don’t ease the mood any either. But the story brings to life this history and the Jewish heritage like few books I’ve read.

However, be forewarned: This deals with the brutality of this period with historical accuracy. This includes a long, detailed section covering the random and mass crucifixions by Governor Florus, for those familiar with ancient history (necessary to the story). This is not for the weak of stomach.

Summary: The lack of closure is a bit disappointing with this final book of The City of God Series, but overall Retribution is an excellent but intense story—a good read if you can handle the violence. Not recommended for kids under 16.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

Order Retribution here.

(Book 2 reviewed here.)

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