~ About the Book ~
After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.
Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.
When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.
Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”
Genre: Biblical Fiction/Historical Fiction
Release date: 7 August 2018
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
~ Excerpt ~
You asked me once how a woman like me could become a thief. How could I, having everything—a father’s love, a lavish home, an athlete’s accolades—turn to lawlessness and crime?
Were I in a flippant mood, I could blame it on sleeplessness. That fateful night, when I abandoned my bed and went in search of a warm tincture of valerian root to help me rest, and found instead my father slithering out the side door into the dark alley beyond.
He was a man of secrets, my father, and that night I resolved to discover the mystery that surrounded him. A mystery so cumbersome, its weight had shattered my parents’ marriage.
Snagging an old cloak in the courtyard, I wrapped myself in its thick folds and followed him along a circuitous path that soon had me confused. The moon sat stifled under a cover of clouds that night, shielding my presence as I pursued him.
Finally, Father came to a stop. The clouds were dispersing and there was now enough light to make out the outline of the buildings around me. We had arrived at an affluent neighborhood.
During the day, we Corinthians left our doors open as a sign of hospitality. At night, we shut and latched them, both for safety and to indicate that the time for visitation had passed and the occupants were in bed. As one would expect, the door of this villa had long since been barred.
I hunkered down behind a bush, wondering what Father meant to do. Rouse the household with his knocking? He fumbled with something in his belt and proceeded to cover his face with a mask.
I gasped. Was he playing a jest on the owner of the house? Did he have a forbidden assignation with a lady within? He was an unmarried man, still handsome for his age. I had never considered his private life and felt a twinge of distaste thinking of him with a woman. Now was perhaps a good time for me to beat a hasty retreat. But something kept me rooted to the spot.
My father approached the south wall of the villa and nimbly climbed a willow tree that grew near. I had to admire his agility when he jumped from the tree to the wall. Deftly, he grabbed hold of the branches of another tree growing within the garden and swung himself into its foliage. I lost sight of him then.
I sat and considered the evidence before me. Father’s stealthy movements in the middle of the night. The mask. The furtive entry into the villa. The answer stared me in the face. But I refused to believe it.
As I waited, I found it hard to gauge the time. How long since he had scrambled into the villa? An hour? Less? No alarm had been raised . . . yet. I began to fret. What was he doing in there? What if someone caught him? I left my hiding place and, slinking my way toward the villa, made a quick exploration of the area. The place seemed deserted. Tucking my tunic and cloak out of the way, I climbed the same willow my father had and nestled in its branches. Still I could discern nothing.
I laid my forehead against a thick branch. What should I do? Wait? Go in search of him? Then I heard a noise. Feet running through bushes. More than one pair of feet.
A man cried, “Halt! You there! Stop at once!” My hold on the branch slipped. I thought a guard had seen me and prepared to leap back into the street. What I saw next made my blood turn to ice.
Father was running toward me with a large man in close pursuit, his hand clutching a drawn sword. The man bearing the weapon was quickly gaining on my father. I estimated Father’s distance from the wall, the time he would need to climb up the tree on one side, and then back down the other. He would never make it in time.
He was about to be caught. Killed, as I watched helplessly from my perch of branches.
Taken from “Thief of Corinth” by Tessa Afshar. Copyright © 2018
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved
For a longer PDF excerpt, go to Tyndale’s page for Thief of Corinth
~ Review ~
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read—possibly my favourite of those I’ve read by Tessa Afshar so far, with just one small caveat that I’ll mention in a moment. As you would expect from this author, first century Corinth comes alive with authentic historical detail. In fact, the reader probably doesn’t realise just how much they’re being educated on ancient Corinthian culture, so seamlessly does the narrative weave historical nuggets and explanations into the story.
Ariadne is the kind of lively, energetic character you can’t help loving in spite of her flaws, and the first person narrative is bursting with personality. After a reflective prologue from a slightly older and wiser Ariadne, the reader meets her as a headstrong and defiant, but lonely sixteen-year-old, escaping from her grandfather’s home in Athens with her foster brother, Theo. What follows is an engaging coming-of-age story in both a physical and a spiritual sense. Ariadne pursues athletic prowess and popularity only to discover their hollowness. She navigates the tempestuous waters of family relationships and romantic love. And, of course, she becomes a thief.
This story departs a little from Tessa Afshar’s previous books in that the main character is fictional rather than an actual historical person; however, the apostle Paul plays a pivotal role in changing the course not just of Ariadne’s life, but of her father’s and brother’s lives as well. And it is at this point that I once again felt like shouting the power of fiction from the rooftops. Paul’s words about love, forgiveness, and about staying the course are brilliantly illuminated in their application to Ariadne’s life.
And yet it is here that I also offer my caveat. I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler, but I was a little bit surprised at the way Ariadne’s career as a thief resolved. I’m still processing all my thoughts on this point, and it would definitely make an interesting talking point for book clubs, but I’m not convinced Ariadne and her family were justified in taking the action they took. There is a lively debate going on in my head even as I write this!
That point aside, I’ll simply reiterate my opening remark: This was a thoroughly enjoyable read!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel, Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of five top Christian Fiction titles of 2016, and nominated for the 2016 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Inspirational Romance. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book, Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. Her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, won her “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011.
Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being addicted to chocolate.