Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ by Carol Wallace

So I just finished reading Ben-Hur by Carol Wallace, which is a new updated version of the classic book.
When reading the Authors note at the beginning of the book, I was thrilled to see that the Author, Carol Wallace is the great-great Granddaughter of  author, Lew Wallace who wrote the original book that was published in 1880.
When I found out that I was going to be able to review this book for you, I was so excited!  I remember watching the classic movie Ben-Hur that featured Charleston Heston with my family when I was little and I LOVE the movie but have never read the book, So If you are not familiar with the story, let me tell you a little about it.

Ben-Hur is the story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Young 17 year old boy who is a prince in Israel. The book opens with Judah waiting for his friend, Messala, A Roman boy who went away to study and Judah has not seen in 5 years .  When they finally meet, Judah is surprised at how old Messala looks. As they talk, Judah discovers that it is not only Messala's looks that have changed but his views as wel. He used to not care that Judah was Jewish, but now he had a Roman way of thinking and during their conversation, He talks bad about Jerusalem, Judah's faith and the sheltered life that Judah's has lived. Judah is confused and mad about what his friend said but is helped by some advice given by his mother.  The next day Judah is on the roof of their palace watching the procession for the new Procurator, Valerius Gratus. He tries to get a better look and knocks a loose tile off of the edge and it hits the Procurator right on the forehead. Immediately, Soldiers break down the door and arrest Judah and his family. Messala comes in the house and Judah is thankful because his friend knows he would never hurt anyone. But Messala pronounces them all guilty of attempted murder and sends Judah's Mother and Sister to jail and Judah was to be sent to the Galleys.
To be sent to the Galley was a death sentence because you were sent to a roman war ship and with several other prisoners and forced to row the oars for the rest of your life. Most people did not last more then a year in the Galleys.  Judah was on his way to the Galley when he collapsed of exhaustion. The soldiers were making him walk the desert with no water and he was practically being dragged behind their horses. As the soldiers got some water in the small town of Nazareth, Judah is given water by a young carpenter who defied the soldiers orders to not give any water to the prisoner. This gave Judah hope to continue on to the Galleys and whatever God had planned for him. The book skips to about three years later when a new commander was coming aboard the ship that Judah was currently working on. Commander Quintus Arrius was not new to war and the galleys but was intrigued by one slave that appeared to be about 20 years old. He questioned Judah about why he is in the galleys and is shocked that he has survived for so long. After he has spoken with Judah he is still thinking about his story when the fleet are forced into battle against a band of pirates. As the slaves were being chained to their seats, Commander Arrius tells them to leave Judah unchained. This single act is what saved Judah's life. A few hours later ( or minutes, the book does not say) the battle intensifies and the ship catches fire. Judah manages to escape by jumping off the burning ship and he finds a piece of wood floating that he manages to climb on. As he is floating he spots Commander Arrius and saves him from drowning.  Commander Arrius and Judah are rescued by a Roman ship and Commander Arrius adopts Judah as his son and his heir. Judah stayed with Arrius until he died, Then he left to discover what happened to his mother and sister.  As Judah reaches Antioch, the home of the Hur Family's steward. He is met with suspicion as to his identity. The steward has been questioned and almost beaten to death by Roman soldiers in order to find the Hur fortune so he is not sure Judah is who he says he is. After Judah meets with the steward to convince him that he is Judah Ben Hur, He wanders around and ends up in the Grove of Daphne, a place where your every desire could be met for the sake of pleasing the idols of Rome. The Steward sent someone to follow Judah because he wanted to see what kind of person Judah was.  While in the Grove, Judah saves the life of a old man and his daughter and through them, he meets the Sheik who owns the most beautiful Arabian Horses that Judah had ever seen.  After speaking with the Sheik, Judah decides to enter into the upcoming Chariot race, especially since he discovered Messala was also racing and Judah remembers that sometimes people get hurt or killed in the arena, that it is just part of the sport. Will Judah kill Messala out of revenge?  Will Messala recognize Judah?
Looking at the bigger picture... Will Judah ever be able to find out if his mother and sister are still alive and if they are... Where are they?

What did I think of the book?
I liked the movie better. The book was OK,
Again I want to say that I have not read the original book, so I do not know about the accuracy of the book. but I did not like how Judah was portrayed. In the movie, his faith is strong and it is his belief in God that helped him to get through his time in the Galleys, In the book, it is his quest for revenge against Messala for destroying his family. Yes it is the Tale of the Christ but on the only Biblical part, When Balthasar was speaking about seeing Baby Jesus,  He told the story wrong. In the Bible it says that the Wisemen went to King Herod and asked him where was "the King of the Jews" born ,after that they found the Baby and were told in a dream to go home a different way... In the book, Balthasar says that they found the Christ Child and then were told in a dream to go to King Herod and ask where the "King of the Jews was born.
Overall, I thought the story was OK, But it was a very long book and tt had some graphic scenes, like the battle on the ship and there was also a riot. I give the book 2 out of 5 Stars.   **

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 Happy Reading :)

 I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was not asked to write a favorable review, Just a honest one.

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