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The Last Ember (edition 2012)
by Daniel Levin
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 159448872X, Hardcover)Product Description
An Italian antiquities squad discovers a woman's preserved corpse inside an ancient column. Pages torn from priceless manuscripts litter the floor of an abandoned warehouse. An illegal excavation burrows beneath Jerusalem's Dome of the rock, ground sacred to three religions.
Jonathan Marcus a young American lawyer and a former doctoral student in classics, has become a sought-after commodity among antiguities dealers. But when he is summoned to Rome to examine a client's fragment of an ancient stone map, he stumbles across a startling secert: a hidden message carved inside the stone itself. The discovery propels him on a perilous journey from the labyrinth beneath the Colosseum to the biblical-era tunnels of Jerusalem in search of a hidden 2,000-year-old artifact sought by empires throughout the ages. As MArcus and a passionate UN preservationist, Dr. Emili Travia, dig more deeply into the past, they're stunned to discover not only an anicent intelligence operation to protect the artifact, but also a ruthless modern plot to destroy all trace of it by a mysterious radical bent on erasing every remnant of Jewish and Christian presence from the Temple Mount. With a cutting-edge plot as intricately layered as the ancient sites it explores, The Last Ember is a gripping thriller spanning the high-stakes worlds of archaeology, politics, and terrorism in its portrayal of the modern struggle to define--and redefine--history itself.
Steve Berry and Daniel Levin on The Last Ember
Interview conducted by Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Charlemagne Pursuit.
Steve Berry: Let me say that The Last Ember is a winner. Secrets, history, conspiracies, adventures. Great stuff. Where did the idea come from?
Daniel Levin: First of all, thanks – it’s an honor to hear that from someone like you. As for the story, the level of espionage in Rome and Greece has always fascinated me. I was a classics student and was surprised to discover loads of intrigue around every corner. So I thought, what if some of that came with modern consequences?
SB: Worked for me. You really brought the ancient world alive. What about that corpse you describe in the opening pages of the novel? The one the Italian antiquities squad finds floating inside an ancient column. Great scene. Is that level of preservation possible?
DL: Amazingly, it is. Embalming techniques in the ancient Roman world used amber and preservative oils. What got my imagination stirring was when I read a historical report that some 15th-century Roman masons once found a perfectly preserved ancient woman floating in an oil-filled sarcophagus. Now that’s a powerful image.
SB: The illicit antiquities trade couldn’t be a timelier topic, especially with many museums currently investigating what artifacts in their collections may have been illegally obtained. Did current events affect your writing?
DL: Absolutely. While I was researching in Rome, there was a case brought against the former curator of the Getty museum, which has one of the finest antiquities collections in the world. I attended the trial and listened to the Italian prosecutor’s opening arguments as to why many of the artifacts should be returned. Fascinating stuff to me, both as a writer and a lawyer. I ended up working much of that Italian courtroom atmosphere into the novel.
SB: Did you actually research some illegal excavations?
DL: I did, and the more I researched illegal excavations around the world, the more I started to see a pattern: some of the largest sites of archaeological destruction were damaged for purely political purposes – simply as a way to erase the past. That's when one of the novel’s themes began to take shape. What if someone was politically motivated to control not the future, but the past?Read the entire interview [PDF]
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:26 -0400)
Jonathan Marcus, a young American lawyer and a former doctoral student in classics, has become a sought-after commodity among antiquities dealers, but when he is summoned to Rome to examine a client's fragment of an ancient stone map, he stumbles across a startling secret: a hidden message carved inside the stone itself. The discovery propels him on a perilous journey from the labyrinth beneath the Colosseum to the biblical-era tunnels of Jerusalem in search of a hidden 2,000-year-old artifact sought by empires throughout the ages.--From publisher's description.
(summary from another edition)
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