Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
A beacon in the dark, The Lighthouse takes readers on a heartbreaking journey to first-century Egypt.
Author Karin Ciholas’s talent is on full display in in The Lighthouse. Reading this novel is akin to examining an intricate painting, one with a subject of burning houses and people fleeing for their lives. The Lighthouse is a powerful genesis for the Cyrenian trilogy and a riveting historical novel.
This story is centered around Simon, a gifted yet haunted physician who fights to balance his duties as both a healer and a family man. He’s dedicated to saving as many lives as possible, but he is persecuted and hunted for being Jewish.
Meidias, a particularly violent felon who has escaped from the mines, has kidnapped Simon’s sister Rachel. Simon is dedicated to bringing Rachel back, and he is simultaneously torn between his love for Aurelia, the daughter of a Roman senator, and his religion. As all of this is occurring, blood is beginning to flood the streets of Rome, as senators start fatal witch hunts against one another. With no order or structure, will the once glorious Rome crumble under its own weight?
There’s a lot to love about this book. As a fan of historical fiction, I tend to read the description first and then set out to learn more about the time period it’s set in. With The Lighthouse, Ciholas includes so much information that it ends up as informative as it is riveting.
On top of that, I really grew to love Simon as a character. Ciholas’a decision to make him so complex—kind, yet vengeful—always kept me engaged. His biggest moral issue of whether to prolong someone’s life or to let them die mercifully is never answered and one that still hasn’t found its answer centuries later. Ciholas begins the novel with death and ends it with multiple, so be ready.
The exposition in the book is extremely strong, and I was glued to the search for Rachel. However, as the book moves along, some beloved characters become somewhat invisible, like Valerius, and the plot slows down. The book also leaves some parts unanswered, like the future of the illegal slave trade, but these plot points may come up again in future books, even if I did long for more of them here.
The Lighthouse has got me hooked into this series. I’d gladly recommend it to those historical enthusiasts who are looking to dive deep into human history.
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