The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence

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The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Elaine Dingsdale
Reviewed by Elaine Dingsdale
Summary: The 16th book in the highly acclaimed Roman Mysteries, following the adventures of a quartet of young sleuths.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1842551912

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The novel opens - and indeed ends - on a note of tension and excitement. The four young companions are now found far from home - their families don't know if they are dead or alive, and are searching for them with the limited resources available to them at that time. Posters offering rewards for any information are seen by the group, and on this note of pathos, the adventure begins. Isolated, penniless and alone - and suspected by the authorities of treason, the group most certainly have their work cut out for them. They once again take up the trail of child kidnappings, which formed the basis of a earlier adventure, and we find the group hot on the trail in Asia. A strange, exotic and frightening world for them, they are intrigued at the proliferation of mystics, healers, and other groups alien to their culture - will they help or hinder the children in their quest?

This was an interesting, well researched, and well paced novel, aimed at the pre-teen market. I was at a slight disadvantage, as I hadn't read the preceding fifteen books in the series, but it works quite adequately as a standalone novel in its own right. The author is very careful to ensure that the potentially new reader to the series has enough information to figure out the previous events and histories of the young group. I believe that there is now a TV series, on CBBC based on the books, so clearly the author has captured the imagination of parents and children alike!

Overall the novel reminds me of the hugely popular Blyton series of The Famous Five. The time periods are centuries apart, but children will be children, and I'm sure that today's audience will relate equally well to the worries and concerns, the comradeship and adventures undertaken by this band of adventurers. The settings are exotic, and attention to detail is excellent, gently leading the young reader to no doubt wanting to learn more about the life and times of the era in which it is set.

The plot moves along steadily, but keeps the reader guessing until the last possible moment. I envisage many parents having to wrest the book form their children's' hands at 'light's out' time!

Themes and topics can be challenging - or alternatively, potentially of no interest to a younger audience. For example, I'm not too sure that many would relate/understand/be terribly interested in the tradition of marriage contracts for pre-teens? But perhaps I'm nit picking slightly! Another minor irritation was the convoluted, almost contrived language at times:

Poor Pater, poor Soso, poor Toto

Ms Lawrence, we know you can do much better than this !

The book is beautifully presented. A most eye catching front cover, which should stand out well on the bookshelves. Inside we have some very useful maps and a glossary of terms/names. The last scroll gives a brief summary of John the Evangelist, so central to the book, so the vast majority of queries which the younger reader may have are answered within. However, any outstanding questions may set them off on some literary sleuthing of their own - highly desirable when trying to encourage young readers.

This book works so well, on so many different levels, and I think it would make a useful addition to the school history curriculum, as well as being a very enjoyable and well written novel in its own right - I may in fact be tempted to read a few more of them - children's books or not!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman and Fire Dreamer by Beth Webb.

Buy The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence at

Buy The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Prophet from Ephesus (The Roman Mysteries) by Caroline Lawrence at


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