Historical Novels Review Issue 91 February 2020
J. Lynn Else
First in a four-novel series, Resisting Tyranny introduces readers to four unlikely friends brought together by a life-threatening accident at sea. A Roman centurion, an auxiliary soldier, a wealthy and soon-to-be-married noble lady, and a Jewish scholar form a bond of friendship that could save Jerusalem from the greed of their Roman overlords. But can they stop a war before it’s too late?
The story sweeps across a first-century world that’s diverse, gritty, and laced with tension. Majestic and colorful landscapes such as Jerusalem, Rome, and the many places in between, both on land and sea, are richly detailed. I loved the maps that are included at the beginning.
Sanford uses his characters well. Men and women have strong influence on the plot, including women who interacted with and changed their circumstances despite social constraints. Everything is supported by an incredibly well-researched foundation. The time period and social customs are delightfully developed.
My only concern is I found the book a little long. Some sections start at the end of a battle, which is slightly disconcerting. I wasn’t with the characters because I was still figuring out how we got that far into the confrontation in the first place. However, there is political and religious strife, moments of ancient beauty, and well-developed characters to carry the plot forward. Sanford is a talented author with an exciting new series to get lost in.