A gripping literary thriller about the highstakes search for the legendary Tabernacle Menorah, a priceless historical artifact stolen from the Second Temple in Jerusalem two thousand years ago and never recovered.
Jonathan Marcus was a promising young archeologist studying at the American Academy in Rome when a terrible accident during an illegal excavation resulted in a friend's death and Jonathan's expulsion from the academy. Jonathan abandoned archaeology for the law, developing a reputation as a skillful advocate for some of the art world's less scrupulous antiquities dealers.
When his firm sends Jonathan to Rome to discredit the testimony of a prominent U.N. antiquities official, he's stunned to discover that the expert is Dr. Emili Travia, a friend and fellow student at the academy who was also at the excavation. This chance reunion prompts Jonathan, against his better judgment, to help Emili as she searches for the fabled Tabernacle Menorah, a priceless historical artifact seized by Roman invaders in the first century A.D. and brought to Rome where it disappeared. As they scour the ancient sites of Rome for hints to the menorah's whereabouts--deciphering clues to its location left by ancient spies and eighteenth century art restorers--it quickly becomes clear that they are not alone in their quest.
What follows is a treasure hunt like no other, a race to find the menorah in order to control a historical perspective of who can define--and redefine--the past.
By turns a riveting page-turner and a compelling character study, set in the high-stakes arenas of art, politics, and terrorism, The Last Ember is a provocative and fast-paced glimpse into history, religion, and international law.
Da Vinci Code addicts will enjoy Levin's debut, a dense, complicated novel of religious suspense. Jonathan Marcus, classics scholar-turned-lawyer, is sucked back into his former life in archeology after becoming involved in an antiquities theft case his law firm is handling. A few minutes in the presence of a chunk of the ancient Roman Forum and a reunion with an old girlfriend from his student days, Dr. Emili Travia, and Jonathan is ready to cast off his three-piece suit and return to unearthing ancient subterranean mysteries. The prize this time is the 2,000-year-old Tabernacle menorah, eight feet of solid gold stolen from Herod's Temple in Jerusalem and hidden somewhere in Rome. The forces of evil are represented by Sheik Salah ad-Din, who seeks to find and destroy the menorah. The fevered pace slows only to deliver a multitude, perhaps too much of a multitude, of interesting historical factoids. (Aug.)
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August 05, 2009
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