REVIEW | Cry For Jerusalem, Book 1

Historical Fiction

Cry For Jerusalem is one of my client projects (a 4-book series). Book 1 published last year by Stadia Books, Book 2 publishes this summer, and we just started planning/outlining Book 3 for publication Summer 2021.

Historical Novels Review | Issue 91 | February 2020
J. Lynn Else

First in a four-novel series, Resisting Tyranny introduces readers to four unlikely friends brought together by a life-threatening accident at sea. A Roman centurion, an auxiliary soldier, a wealthy and soon-to-be-married noble lady, and a Jewish scholar form a bond of friendship that could save Jerusalem from the greed of their Roman overlords. But can they stop a war before it’s too late?

The story sweeps across a first-century world that’s diverse, gritty, and laced with tension. Majestic and colorful landscapes such as Jerusalem, Rome, and the many places in between, both on land and sea, are richly detailed. I loved the maps that are included at the beginning.

Sanford uses his characters well. Men and women have strong influence on the plot, including women who interacted with and changed their circumstances despite social constraints. Everything is supported by an incredibly well-researched foundation. The time period and social customs are delightfully developed.

My only concern is I found the book a little long. Some sections start at the end of a battle, which is slightly disconcerting. I wasn’t with the characters because I was still figuring out how we got that far into the confrontation in the first place. [Note from Dennis: this was intentional–a jump cut–or the book would have been even larger, and any necessary details ‘jumped’ were revealed in subsequent events.] However, there is political and religious strife, moments of ancient beauty, and well-developed characters to carry the plot forward. Sanford is a talented author with an exciting new series to get lost in.

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More of the reviews at Amazon:

“Seriously, don’t judge a book by its cover. I really did not know what to expect with this book. But it is a period in history that I find interesting, so I gave it a shot. When I started I thought it might be a dry history book, but it is fascinating. The characters come to life and the setting is vivid. Such a pleasant surprise. A really good read. I’m a little bummed I can’t find anything else by Sanford. Hopefully, this won’t be the last thing he writes.” –Amazon Customer

“A thorough look at the chaotic era leading up to the fall of Jerusalem. Well-researched and described as if the author had personal experience in the time and places. He paints the settings in great detail, making it easy to picture the action. This detail does slow the story, but this is not a quick light read, but rather a look at the powers and influences at play while told in the context of a fiction story. In the genre of historical fiction, it leans heavier on the historical than the fiction. Character development was spot on. I appreciated the growth that was discernable in several of the main players. I’m looking forward to the second book.” –Lanita R., Canada

“I really enjoyed reading this book! The author successfully immerses you not only in the historical details of the time period he writes about; he also draws you into the day-to-day lives of the people involved. As I read about Yosef, his brother Matthew, and his sister Miriam, I began to feel as if I, too, was experiencing what they were experiencing in the tense circumstances they were living – rooting for the “good” guys and hoping for the defeat of the “bad”. I eagerly await Book 2 in this series to see how the battle for Jerusalem continues to make heroes out of ordinary men and women who are passionate to protect their beloved city.” –Susan Wood

“Fascinating fact-filled historical account. Excellently written action packed with characters that participate in the events leading to Jerusalem’s destruction in the year 70. You will not be able to put it down.” –Elmer Landis

“Great read! Really enjoyed the characters and the historical time line. Can’t wait for the next one!” –Stephanie Maye

“Very compelling story. It’s a very interesting story. I loved all the characters. It is hard sometimes to realize how it really WAS back then. We are so removed from that time, and yet as Christians, we know that we have our roots in Israel, and this is really what it was like. Ward has great characters, fictional though they be, there were people then just like Yosef, Cleo, and the others. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to know more about Israel and about the Christian faith.” –Lacers

“This is an excellent read. “Cry for Jerusalem…Resisting Tyranny” is a very well-researched, highly evocative, and a richly imagined portrait of the period. It is a fascinating read, and one that will long be remembered in the imagination of the reader.” –Michael Kamandulis

“A wonderful read! Keeps you riveted from beginning to end. I can’t wait until the next book comes out.” –Dennis Karp

“From the beginning, this book had me. The storyline has everything you might want in a good read. It has intrigue, great plot, perceptive character development, romance, epic themes of good and evil, all woven into a backdrop of history that is brought to life through the characters in this book. After a recent visit to Israel, this story had me reliving the experience of walking these lands with new eyes to see and feel what this great drama in history may have been like. I am eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.” –Chuck

“I was so excited to get a chance to review this new story before publication. As a Christian who has studied the Bible a great deal, I have often been compelled to search out extra-biblical references to this pivotal period of ancient history. My personal preference as an avid read is novels, so the idea of an historical novel connecting my passion for this period in our past with my love of a compelling story was exciting. Ward weaves an amazing tale from the perspective of a first-century observer. He connects history, geography and characters from our past into a story of adventure, danger, intrigue and deception. He takes us on a journey throughout the Middle East from the dangers on the high seas, to the secret meetings of Roman officials and Jewish leaders, to the average person living through these tumultuous times. I highly recommend this book and I personally look forward to his next installment!” –Paul Patti

“Great history lesson with intriguing character development. I loved it and believe it’s definitely worth a read. The story grows on you as the characters develop living in this high drama time period.” –Volner S. Robertson

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to read this book ahead of its delivery to Amazon. I’m an avid reader but have not typically been a fan of historical fiction, but this book absolutely captivated me from the first chapter. I couldn’t put it down. The characters are interesting and complex, the scene is fascinating (right before the fall of the temple and Jerusalem), the story is engaging, the situations very real… so good!” –Allen