Coming off the first book in the series, I’m going to be honest – I wasn’t that excited to read the second. I enjoyed the first book, but I’d gotten my fill of it and didn’t really want anymore. And then I started reading this one, and my mind was changed!
First off, though, about the characters. Dear ol’ Lukio, from book one, makes his reappearance, and now he’s the feared champion of Ashdod. This was probably my main complaint with the whole book (not that it’s really even that massive of a complaint), but I just didn’t buy Lukio’s whole persona. For the first part of the book, I felt like the author was trying to convince me that Lukio was bad. (He was.) But then he started acting like he wasn’t that bad and kind of became very moral all of a sudden before he really had a change of heart. So his character, to me, was quite unsteady. I would’ve rather seen him just be the bad dude he was, or just start off with him not being completely heathen. Anyway. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to Shoshana. I loved her. She was so brave and strong even after everything she’d gone through. And her love for her kids? So sweet! I would’ve liked to see even more of Shoshana throughout the book. And the romance! I’m a little partial to the whole renewed romance after knowing each other when you were kids (except this one was a little young, I have to say. Shoshana was like nine years old and saying she’d fallen in love. That seems a wee babe for me, but ok.) Anyway. The romance was cute, and it was mostly clean throughout.
And now … the plot! The pace moved well even though there wasn’t a lot of action. I enjoyed watching Lukio start seeing his world differently and how the king kind of turned on him. And the whole thing with Mariada! (Also, a very cool character. She was sweet.) I was unsure how that was going to turn out, but it turned out way better than I’d hoped. Overall, though, the plot moved through lots of character interaction and a little bit of action at the end. The climax wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go, but everything resolved appropriately, so I’ll accept.
Finally, the themes. One thing that I really loved was the comparison between what Lukio had seen when he lived with the Jews and when he lived in Ashdod. Seeing how radically different God and His Law is from humans was really impactful and well-done. There was also a wonderful theme about love in spite of failure and betrayal. Although this one didn’t include quite as many morals as the first in the series, it still had some really nice moments!
In the end, I’m quite glad I read this book. The author did a great job bringing alive Biblical times, and her writing fit her style really well. I’ll probably be checking out more from Connilyn Cossette in the future!