Saturday, August 20, 2016

To the Ends of the Earth

     The year is AD 338. The Roman Empire, recently Christianized by the emporer Constantine, encircles the Mediterranean Sea from the Gates of Hercules to the destroyed city of Jerusalem. Her outposts thrive in Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa. But there are gaps in the empire's armor, dark spaces filled with terror and chaos. There corruption reigns, and power belongs to the cunning and the ruthless.
     T. Davis Bunn's intricately woven historical thriller, To the Ends of the Earth, opens just after the death of the emperor Canstantine. Danger snares the empire's outer reaches in a festering grip as various factions struggle for control. The rising tide of lawlessness comes to Africa and threatens the lives of Travis and his father, Cletus, who manages a Roman consul's estate. Travis sets sail for the glittering new capital, Constantinople, where he must find his vanished brothers, and uncover the Byzantine plot against his life and home.
     Entwined with Travis's fate is the beautiful Lydia, who faces her own challenges in Constantinople. Each represents to the other an alien way of life and belief. Their love is forbidden, impossible, but cannot be denied.
     This vivid novel has the feel of a traveler's tale, told by one who has smelled the salt and dust and blood, tasted the wine, heard the ring of swords and creaking of oars. The author draws the willing reader into a time of crumbling empire, of enormous spiritual upheaval, and limitless possibility--an ancient time, yet one that speaks to us across the centuries with eternal human problems of love, faith, and courage.

     For all I love T. Davis Bunn's books, I have a hard time reviewing them. His books have depth, which, while it makes the book better, it also makes it harder to review.
     Travis is the third son of Cletus. He is sent to Constinople to review the problems they have been having with the manor over which his father rules. Just before leaving, Travis is poisoned. With the help of his faithful servant, Raffa, he regains his health and makes his journey. Along the way, he stops to ask for financial help from one of his older step-brothers, but is treated with the same hostility which was bestowed upon him since childhood. In this city, they allow Hannibal and his daughter, Lydia, to travel with them to Constinople. When they arrive, Travis realizes that his oldest step-brother, Brutus, resides in the city and is the cause of his father's financial problems. Surviving several attacks on his life, Travis manages to accomplish his objective and return home alive and well, the manor issues resolved.
    I really enjoyed this book, even though (as with most of T. Davis Bunn's books) I really didn't understand the setting very well. The whole controversy between religions I didn't grasp real well, but I still enjoyed the book. Two thumbs up!

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