Healer of Carthage

Healer of CarthageHealer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry
Series: The Carthage Chronicles
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Howard Books on March 14, 2014
Pages: 416
Also in this series: Return to Exile, Valley of Decision
Also by this author: Return to Exile, Valley of Decision


First-year resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings doesn’t take her father’s letter summoning her to Egypt seriously, but after making a tragic mistake at the hospital, she decides to go to him, eager to escape the failure that her career seems to have become. While exploring a cave at her father’s archeological dig, Lisbeth falls through a hole and time itself, awakening to find herself on a slave trader’s auction block and the ruins of Carthage restored to its former Roman Empire glory. Once she realizes she has truly gone back in time, the bigger question remains – can she return home? Cyprian Thascius buys Lisbeth at the auction, feeling called by God to do so. What he doesn’t understand, is what role she will play in saving the church of his recently found faith. Their worlds collide, while an intense attraction develops between them, uniting them to fight a deadly epidemic. While facing persecution and traitors in their midst, Cyprian and Lisbeth fight to change the medical treatment of the poor. Meanwhile, Roman rule overshadows all and threatens to separate them forever.

Healer of Carthage is full of action and danger, as well as full of fascinating details of the history and setting of Carthage.

Healer of Carthage is full of action and danger, as well as full of fascinating details of the history and setting of Carthage. Ultimately, the exciting plot is what won me over. Lynne realistically portrays how dangerous life was for Christians, slaves and those living in poverty under Roman rule. On the flipside, she shows readers how the wealthy of the Roman Empire lived lavish lifestyles, with more than they truly needed, while the poor suffered and toiled for very little. The comparison that this draws to modern times is truly striking. The medicinal practices of the time period are fascinating and sometimes a bit gruesome. Healing is believed to depend on the “will of the gods” rather than any true skill of the person doing the doctoring. Lisbeth has to mesh her present-day doctor skills with the limited resources she has in Carthage. One of the most exciting scenes is a surgery in which she has to be inventive with what the past has to offer in terms of medical technique and supplies. With this scene of heightened tension, I was hooked for the duration of the story.

Although I enjoyed Lisbeth’s character for the most part, there were some points that she came across as immature or unrealistic. I thought that once she understood she really had traveled back in time somehow that she would try not to be so conspicuous. Instead, she seems to court danger, and I felt like she was supposed to be smarter than that. For example, if you are one of the only Roman citizens visibly reacting to the Roman arena, that will probably get you noticed. It’s not the moral objection that I found unrealistic, but rather the way her reaction was portrayed. I only noticed a few instances of similar behavior, so while it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story as a whole, I did feel it was obvious enough to merit noting here. For the most part, Lisbeth’s spunk and tenacity are endearing.

 For the most part, Lisbeth’s spunk and tenacity are endearing

My favorite character is definitely Magdalena. I can’t imagine being torn between two worlds, and essentially two families as she found herself to be. I think she made the right choice, but I know that had to be something that haunted her for all those years. I don’t want to go into too many details, so I can avoid spoilers for any potential readers, but I will say that I admire her strength of character and her willingness to sacrifice her well-being for those she loves.

The romance aspect was missing a little something for me. I suppose it seemed to move a little quickly, and I wanted to feel more. I wanted to be head-over-heels for their relationship, and though I never was, I did enjoy their interactions together. It took me a while to warm up to Lisbeth and Cyprian together, but by the end of the story, I was rooting for them. The way things end for them is sure to make readers eager for the next book – not exactly a cliff-hanger, but it leaves enough questions to keep you wondering until their story continues.

I admired the development that these characters went through as a result of their hardships and hope to see them pull through in book two.

I’m sure there are several themes to pull from Healer of Carthage, but the two that are prominent to me are the themes of selflessness versus selfishness, as well as sacrificial love and the often difficult choices that surround these ideas. This novel is also about fighting for change, especially when it goes against popular belief and how difficult it is to sway a general selfishness of the “haves” into bettering the lives of the “have nots.” It’s about fighting for change despite an overall bleak picture. Lisbeth and Cyprian fight for change at great personal risk to themselves, and Cyprian, especially in the end, must make a difficult choice in regards to standing up for Christ or compromising on his faith. As evident by the characters, these choices come with great consequence. I admired the development that these characters went through as a result of their hardships and hope to see them pull through in book two.

Although plots involving time travel are not new, they are not often done in Christian fiction. Lynne does a wonderful job with the time travel aspect in this novel, as well as portraying the above themes and the historical details of the time. Book two promises to be just as riveting and exciting as this one, and I’m looking forward to it. I recommend Healer of Carthage for readers who are intrigued by time travel plots, and in general, those who love an exciting historical story.

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