I just finished RETRIBUTION by Randy Ingermanson. Absolutely riveting. His action races along and his prose is so engaging that I couldn't put it down. I felt as if I, too, were sucked into the world of first century Jerusalem.
From the back cover:
Jerusalem, A.D. 66
The City of God seethes with rage against imperial Rome...and, in an act of unspeakable brutality, Rome takes deadly retribution. War looms on the horizon--but one woman already knows the outcome...
Transported from the far future, Rivka Meyers has made her home in Jerusalem with her husband and fellow time traveler, Ari Kazan. But in a turbulent age, Rivka's foreknowledge of history is a heavy responsibility. She knows Jerusalem will be destroyed--and that a prophet will warn the fledgling church to flee the city. Is Rivka herself that prophet? And if so, will the people heed her warning?
Rivka's fears deepen when Jewish zealots demand Ari's help to design weapons of war. Ari faces the impossible choice: join the "men of violence" in their doomed cause, or leave the people defenseless against Nero's legions.
Desperate to know God's will, Ari and Rivka are about to face the cost of forgiveness...gain an unexpected ally...and learn the extraordinary power of sacrifice.
I don't read many historical novels, but this is a mix of both history and science fiction because the main characters are from our near future, stuck in the ancient past through the actions of a theoretical physicist. I've heard that time-travel is actually theorized in physics, although I would never understand the complex mathematics, so the characters' plight isn't through a magical talisman or something that *Bibbity-bobbity-boo* zaps them back in time. This dabbles in the realm of possibility, which is rather neat. The author has a short, amusing article on time travel on his website:
I've heard about the historical account of Josephus but never read his work. However, I thoroughly enjoyed how the author revealed and compared events transpiring with the slightly exaggerated writings of Josephus and other historians. The way the plot unfolds is intriguing and surprising. Things never fall into a predicted pattern or lose their richness, even though all the events are taken from actual historical writings.
Each character, whether good or evil, is very complex. No one is a cardboard cutout, not from the most devout Rabbi to the most evil Roman. It adds incredible emotional depth to the story.
Slight warning here: the author describes a true Roman crucifixion, which is a horrific thing, not the white-washed images of the Renaissance painters. The violence might offend some readers used to the typical fare of most CBA publishers.
This is third in the author's City of God series. Before reading RETRIBUTION, I had not read TRANSGRESSION (book 1) but I did read PREMONITION (book 2). This book stands alone, but I do believe that reading PREMONITION (book 2) made this novel much more enjoyable, because I had already come to care for the main characters, had seen their struggles and conflicts in PREMONITION (book 2). Many of those conflicts are slightly related to the struggles in RETRIBUTION (book 3).
Note: Randy now offers a PDF version of TRANSGRESSION as an ebook FREE on his website.
Kathy Tyers, author of SHIVERING WORLD and her FIREBIRD trilogy, endorses this novel and mentions that she "devoured the book and wished it were longer." I was exactly the same. Randy Ingermanson's writing style is incredibly engaging, and the characters so 3-dimensional you can almost touch and talk to them. The ending comes as a bit of a shock because you want there to be more.