Living Under the Shadow of Colossus, Ancient Wonder of the WorldIt is 226 BC. Tessa, a slave who is as beautiful as she is clever, lives in Rhodes where numerous gods, including Colossus, are worshiped. Before she becomes a Christian, Tessa feels that her entire life is wrapped around the magnificent statue of Colossus. His shadow hovered over her as her mother sold her into slavery at a young age. His shadow seems to call to her in her darkest moment when she decides to take her life. She runs to his statue even as a Christian who grasps for not only spiritual freedom, but bodily freedom as well.
I love historical fiction and thought there was much promise in Isle of Shadows. The good characters were likeable, the evil characters were detestable. Tessa herself was very interesting. She was a courtesan to Rome's political leaders (the highest bidder seemed to own her; when the book begins she is owned by a very powerful man, Glaucus) Interestingly, Tessa actually advised on political affairs. Reading about a woman like her made me want to find out if any women slaves truly did have such a voice. The book seems to ask the question: Is Glaucus powerful only because of Tessa? Or is he truly wise via his own merits?
The entire book leads up to the historical Rhodes earthquake, which stood for 56 years until 226 BC, when the earthquake hit and significant damage was done to large portions of the city, including the harbor and commercial buildings, which were destroyed. The statue, which was actually at the harbor, snapped at the knees and fell over on to the land. In the book, Tessa was there when it happened. Afterward, the Rhodians were afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it. All of these events worked in Tessa's favor.
This book was a quick read but it definitely whetted my appetite for more Roman history. You can read the first chapter on Amazon here.
If ancient Rome interests you like it does me, I also recommend Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. It's amazing! But unlike this one, it's not a quick read. More like deep and thought-provoking. If I were you, I'd read them all. ;)
Special thanks to the awesome people at Tommy Nelson for providing me with this book for review!