This is a historical book. And it came to pass in Rome after the kalends of September, and when Caius Julius Cæsar Caligula ruled over Imperial Rome. Arminius Quirinius, the censor, was dead. He had died by his own hand, and thus was a life of extortion and of fraud brought to an ignominious end through the force of public opinion, and by the decree of that same Cæsar who himself had largely benefited by the mal-practices of his minion. Arminius Quirinius had committed every crime, sunk to every kind of degradation which an inordinate love of luxury and the insatiable desires of jaded senses had suggested as a means to satisfaction, until the treachery of his own accomplices had thrown the glaring light of publicity on a career of turpitude such as even these decadent times had seldom witnessed ere this. Enough that the end had come at last. A denunciation from the rostrum, a discontented accomplice thirsting for revenge, an angry crowd eager to listen, and within an hour the mighty, much-feared censor was forced to flee from Rome to escape the fury of a populace which would have torn him to pieces, and was ready even to massacre his family and his womenfolk, his clients and his slaves.
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Seven years earlier, Roman official Taurus Antinor witnessed the teaching and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and recognized in Him an authority higher than Caesar. Now praefect of Rome under the half-insane Caligula, Antinor endeavors to "render unto" an unworthy "Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." When he thwarts the will of Caesar's kinswoman, Dea Flavia Augusta, to protect a slave, he makes many deadly enemies. Surrounded on all sides by treachery, his loyalty both to the Caesar and to God are put to the ultimate test. In such times of testing, the love of a woman can be either a staunch support to duty, or an unbearable temptation away from it.
Dedicated "to those who believe," this is the most overtly Christian book Emmurska Orczy ever wrote, to my knowledge. Every chapter begins with a Scripture quotation. It is one of those books that leaves you with an aura, a powerful emotional response that lingers for days after you have read it. A week after I had read it for the first time I just had to start it all over again. It would make an intense movie!