The Last Ember Review
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It’s been several years since Jonathan Marcus left Rome. Then, he was a disgraced antiquities student who was deemed responsible for a tragic accident. Now, he’s a lawyer with the prestigious American firm of Dulling and Pierce, where his knowledge of artifacts makes him a favorite with antiquities dealers.

Jonathan’s latest case involves a fragment of stone that was allegedly stolen from the Italian state archives—and his job is to disprove the accusations brought by his former classmate, Dr. Emili Travia. On examining the stone, though, Jonathan finds markings that could solve a 2,000-year-old mystery.

Once again caught up in a world that he thought he’d left behind, Jonathan races beneath the streets of Rome to follow the ancient clues. With some help from Emili and another old friend from the Academy, he might even be able to prove the theories that he’d been researching years ago. But Jonathan isn’t the only one in search of this ancient artifact. And he soon finds himself racing against a mysterious radical who’s determined to find it first—and destroy it.

The Last Ember takes readers on a fascinating journey through ancient ruins in Rome and hidden tunnels in Jerusalem. So if you’ve ever wanted to explore the passages where the gladiators prepared for battle—or wander through ancient city streets—here’s your chance. It’s all described so vividly that, after you finish reading, you’ll feel as though you’ve actually been there.

In weaving historical and political facts throughout this work of fiction, though, first-time author Daniel Levin (who, incidentally, is also a lawyer who once studied at the American Academy in Rome) does more than just tell an interesting story about ancient artifacts. He also gives readers a look at the shocking situation at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, making a strong and memorable statement without succumbing to the temptation to climb onto his soapbox and start preaching.

Levin is obviously well-versed in the story’s subject matter. He’s definitely done his homework—because the details are really quite stunning. But the story—and the action—sometimes get bogged down in the facts. It’s clear that Levin is passionate about the topic—and for good reason. He wants to share everything he knows with his readers—and that, too, is understandable. Still, the story could have used some trimming—cutting back on some of the historical details that aren’t necessarily relevant or that disrupt the flow or distract away from the action.

Because it’s so richly detailed, The Last Ember requires more time and concentration than the average thriller. It’s not the kind of light reading that you bring along on your daily commute—but it makes for a captivating read nonetheless. So if you’re interested in archaeology or ancient history, The Last Ember is worth the extra effort.

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