How far would you go to save the ones you love?
Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.
Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He’s lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian’s true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.
Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spellbinding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.
This is the second title in The Carthage Chronicles and is a continuation of the story begun in Healer of Carthage. I strongly recommend reading that book first or little in Return to Exile will make sense.
It’s been one year since Cyprian was exiled from the great city of Carthage by his enemy, Proconsul Aspasius Paternus. But a proconsul must also enforce edicts from Rome, and Emperor Valerian has demanded that Cyprian be allowed to return home. Another edict, however, may help Aspasius permanently defeat Cyprian and his Christian friends. That’s if Aspasius can stay alive long enough to do so, and a debilitating medical issue may prevent that. Meanwhile, six years have passed for Cyprian’s wife, Lisbeth. She’s the single parent to their daughter, Maggie, and holding down a full time job as a doctor at a busy hospital. She’s also facing a disease she last saw in third century Carthage. Maggie, meanwhile, wants a daddy, and Lisbeth’s father thinks his granddaughter deserves to know the truth.
Return to Exile is a tense affair. The reader is never quite sure who will live and who will die. The Christian community faces persecution and disease, with the proconsul believing they are responsible for the epidemic in Carthage. Lisbeth’s reappearance gives them additional ways of fighting the sickness, but also provides unforeseen complications, including a personal one that I thought came across as awkward and perhaps unnecessary to the plot. I also could have done without the vivid descriptions of Aspasius’s ailments. I was, however, unprepared for the resolution of his story since it contradicts established history.
Fans of alternative history and science fiction would appreciate this novel, if they’ve read Healer of Carthage first. There’s a contemplation of time travel paradoxes after Lisbeth discovers the fate of the historical Cyprian. What would it mean for history if she could change that? Was Aspasius’s fate a result of her time traveling? Perhaps time travel fans can also understand why time passes at a different speed for Lisbeth and Cyprian in their separate lives, because it’s not something I comprehended.
Don’t expect a neatly wrapped up ending. This is the middle book of The Carthage Chronicles and it does feel like filler at times. It’s another episode of Lisbeth down the Tunisian rabbit hole. I do expect, however, for there to be full resolution in book three. Valley of Decision will be released in September 2015.
Thank you to Howard books for my complimentary copy of Return to Exile, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read Return to Exile? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Howard Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster)
Publication Date: 06 January 2015
Page Count: 384